Finding the Dragon Lady: The Author’s Search to Discover South Vietnam's Infamous Madame Nhu

Monique Brinson Demery, Author


Monique Brinson Demery will recount her quest to track down Madame Nhu, the deposed first lady of the Republic of South Vietnam whom David Halberstam labeled “the beautiful but diabolic sex-dictatress.” Madame Nhu’s allure, feisty character, and unapologetic rhetoric both appalled and captivated the public during one of the darkest periods of American history. When the US government decided to support the 1963 military coup to overthrow the Ngo Dinh Diem regime, Madame Nhu was sent into obscurity. For decades, she lived, as the “Dragon Lady,” in secluded exile–until Demery discovered her whereabouts.


Demery took her first trip to Vietnam in 1997 as part of a study-abroad program with Hobart and William Smith Colleges. She was the recipient of a US Department of Education grant to attend the Vietnamese Advanced Summer Institute in Hanoi; in 2003, she received her master’s degree in East Asia regional studies from Harvard University. Demery’s initial 2005 interviews with Madame Nhu were the first time Nhu had spoken to the Western press in nearly twenty years. Demery lives in Chicago. More information about her and her book can be found on her website:

Tuesday, April 22, 2014 | 4:30 pm — 6:00 pm

Hoover Institution