Sander, Robert D. Invasion of Laos, 1971: Lam Son 719. Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press, 2014.
Hanson, Military Review (Jan.-Feb. 2015), calls this "good history...--exhaustively researched, dispassionately written, and highly readable." It provides "meticulous tactical and operational details and analysis of the corps-level attack by the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) on North Vietnamese military installations inside Laos in early 1971." The author's "dispassionate description of the planning, equipment, and leadership challenges that adversely affected successful execution of this mission makes his analysis of Army shortcomings all the more damning."
Scott, Peter. Lost Crusade: America's Secret Cambodian Mercenaries. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 1998.
An advertisement identifies the author as a U.S. Army Special Forces adviser to ethnic Cambodian Khmer Krom paramilitaries from 1968. Clark comment: Fortunately, the author appears to be a different person than the conspiracy-oriented (fantacist?) Peter Dale Scott.
For Norman, MHQ Review, Winter 1999, the author "has found in own experience the material for a fine, honest, enduring book about a part of the Vietnam story that has remained largely untold.... The experiences of living out in the hamlets [in the western part of the Mekong Delta], in an alien culture during dangerous times, is powerfully described by Scott."
Seamon, Proceedings 125.6 (Jun. 1999), finds that Scott has captured the sights and sounds of his part of the Vietnam war "with a memorable clarity that testifies to the eye and ear of a truly talented writer." To Andrade, IJI&C 14.3, this book reflects the author's "keen powers of observation and his deep affection for the Cambodians he fought alongside.... The writing in Lost Crusade is highly literary, with a style that paints the scene rather than simply describing it."
Scott, Peter Dale. The War Conspiracy: The Secret Road to the Second Indochina War. Indianapolis, IN: Bobbs-Merrill, 1972.
Covert operations are seen as part of a conspiracy to engage the United States in Indochina. This was very difficult to take seriously even then.
Shultz, Richard H., Jr. The Secret War Against Hanoi: Kennedy and Johnson's Use of Spies, Saboteurs, and Covert Warriors in North Vietnam. New York: HarperCollins, 1999.
Click for reviews of this major work.
Shultz, Richard H., Jr. The Soviet Union and Revolutionary Warfare: Principles, Practices, and Regional Comparisons. Stanford, CA: Hoover Institution Press, 1988.
Valcourt, IJI&C 3.1, says that this book "breaks relatively new ground." The author seeks "to show ... that Soviet support of so-called 'wars of national liberation' is part of an evolving process." Shultz concludes that "the Soviet Union had no coherent plan to conquer the world, nor any significant revolutionary ideology to offer as unification to those waging guerrilla or political warfare." The book presents four cases: Vietnam, the PLO, Angola, and Central America, particularly Nicaragua. The author has undertaken a "comprehensive review of how Soviet newspapers and journals report and interpret that country's international involvements." The writing style is "dry and soporific."
Smith, Eric McAllister. Not By the Book: A Combat Intelligence Officer in Vietnam. New York: Ivy Books, 1993. New York: Ballantine, 1993. [pb]
Surveillant 3.4 identifies Smith as a "Military Intelligence Team (MIT) leader," work which "was dirty, dangerous and poorly staffed." The author gives a "close, unflinching look at combat intelligence in a brigade base camp.... To get the job done, he had to break a lot of rules." For Naeseth, MI 20.2, the book gives "a glimpse of what life is like in a combat field environment as an MI officer."
Smith, Warner. Covert Warrior: Fighting the CIA's Secret War in Southeast Asia and China, 1965-1967. Novato, CA: Presidio, 1996.
According to Bailey, Proceedings 123.3 (Mar. 1997), the author claims to have been recruited by the CIA in 1964 as part of a unit of junior naval officers "to conduct operations in areas outside of South Vietnam." Beyond the base fact that the unit "never existed," there are "scores of factual errors" in the book. "The dumbest story in this collection of tall tales" is the author's account of a one-man mission into southern China. Lane, Library Journal, Jan. 1997, suggests that Smith's "exploits seem too amazing to be true.... [T]oo much of this excitable account seems fanciful or perhaps blurred by the passage of 30 years. Entertaining but not recommended."
Smithsonian Channel. "The Spy in the Hanoi Hilton." [Press Release] 21 Apr. 2015. [http://www.smithsonianchannel.com]
"Using coded letters, secret writing, a technique called 'microdots' and clandestine radio transmissions, the POWs [led by James Bond Stockdale] inside the Hanoi Hilton were able to report on conditions, suggest military activities and bombing raids, and signal two of the largest rescue operations of the entire Vietnam War.... [A] single letter from Stockdale to his wife" began "an espionage operation that would grow to astonishing complexity and capability. Commander Stockdale enlisted other POWs to send coded letters, eventually bringing dozens of men into his spy network, including Captain Eugene 'Red' McDaniel, who spent six years in the Hoa Lo Prison."
See also, Jim Stockdale II, "My Father, the Spy in the Hanoi Hilton," The Daily Beast, 27 Apr. 2015.
Snepp, Frank. Decent Interval: An Insider's Account of Saigon's Indecent End. New York: Random House, 1977. New York: Vintage Books, 1978. [pb] London: Allen Lane, 1980. Decent Interval: An Insider's Account of Saigon's Indecent End Told by the CIA's Chief Strategy Analyst in Vietnam. Lawrence, KS: University of Kansas Press, 2002.
Clark comment: Frank Snepp is a former CIA intelligence analyst who served in Saigon at the end of the Vietnam war. Snepp's outrage and pain at the mishandling of the preevacuation and evacuation periods seem real. Nevertheless, his criticisms bear the mark of someone neither in a command position nor high enough up in the decisionmaking chain to know (nor in the final analysis to understand) the basis on which decisions were being made in Saigon and Washington.
Snepp's decision to publish his book without submitting the manuscript to the CIA for security review, as he was required by his employment agreement to do, brought about litigation that went all the way to the Supreme Court. The government's secrecy agreement was upheld and all profits from Decent Interval have gone to the government. As far as I can determine, the 1978 injunction that requires Snepp to submit all future writings for prepublication review remains in effect.
Decent Interval would be best read today with the following article, written by the CIA's Saigon Base Chief when Saigon fell in 1975, in hand: William R. Johnson, "Recalling Snepp's Indecent Breach of Trust," International Journal of Intelligence and Counterintelligence 9, no. 4 (Winter 1996/97): 473- 481. Johnson details what he calls "the inaccuracies and venal mendacities of Snepp's book."
Constantinides comments that the criticisms directed against Decent Interval "still leave much of Snepp's story ... intact." Nonetheless, it remains "one man's view." Pforzheimer notes that Snepp blames the CIA Chief of Station, the U.S. Ambassador, the Secretary of State, and the President for "the last disorderly days of the war and failure to evacuate many Vietnamese collaborators of the U.S." With regard to blame, Minnick, NameBase, says that Snepp's "negative portrayal of Saigon [Vietnam] station chief Thomas Polgar seems unfair given the complexity of the events." Otherwise, his "descriptions of the CIA's performance in Vietnam, particularly during the fall of Saigon, are stunning."
Commenting on the 25th anniversary edition, Berger, I&NS 20.2 (Jun. 2005), says that Snepp's account "remains one of the more important first-hand accounts of the internal workings of the US intelligence, military and political operations in Saigon and the eventual retreat in 1975."
Snepp has also published a book concerning his travails associated with publishing the first one: see Snepp, Irreparable Harm (1999).
Sorley, Lewis. A Better War: The Unexamined Victories and Final Tragedy of America's Last Years in Vietnam. New York: Harcourt Brace, 1999.
According to Isaacs, Washington Post, 8 Aug. 1999, "Lewis Sorley appears to have given himself two missions in this book. The first, which he largely achieves, is to rescue Gen. Creighton Abrams's reputation from the wreck of Vietnam. The second is to reevaluate the U.S. campaign there as a success, not a failure, even if in the end America's objective was not met. Here, Sorley is less persuasive.... Even if his conclusion is absurdly overstated, Sorley assembles a good deal of evidence that the United States fought more intelligently and effectively in the war's later years, due largely to Gen. Abrams's leadership."
Jonkers, AFIO WIN 32-99 (12 Aug. 1999), finds that "this book contributes a balancing view to the many self-serving apologia ubiquitously available, and is worthwhile and recommended reading." Similarly, Cushman, Proceedings 125.9 (Sep. 1999), calls A Better War "a gripping case study in leadership [that] makes a major contribution to our understanding" of the Vietnam War.
For Waller, CIRA Newsletter 24.4, Sorley's "deep inspection and his obvious writing skills make this book a major contribution to a dark hour in the history of America's Cold War. It surgically dissects the anatomy of war and counter-insurgency in Vietnam." The author has "produced a military history that both historians and war buffs should read." Lefever, IJI&C 13.2, sees A Better War as a "provocative and well-researched book" that "makes a consequential contribution to understanding the Vietnam enigma."
Sorley, Lewis. Westmoreland: The General Who Lost Vietnam. New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2011.
Nagl, Proceedings 137.12 (Dec. 2011), calls this "a profoundly sad book.... [Sorley] takes no apparent pleasure in demolishing Westmoreland's time in Vietnam.... Westmoreland was a conventional soldier constitutionally unable to find a way to win an unconventional war." For Daddis, Parameters 41.3 (Autumn 2011), "[i]n focusing narrowly on Westmoreland, Sorley omits crucial elements of the conflict's history, especially those at cross-purposes with his thesis that Westmoreland's inability to understand the war had 'gravely damaged' American efforts in Southeast Asia." This biography is "an incomplete view of Westmoreland and thus of the Vietnam War."
Sorley, Lewis, ed. The Vietnam War: An Assessment by South Vietnam's Generals. Lubbock, TX: Texas Tech University Press, 2010.
Peake, Studies 55.3 (Sep. 2011), notes that Sorley has edited 17 post-Vietnam interviews with senior South Vietnamese participants. The interviews contain "remarkably candid views on all angles of the conflict.... A chapter on intelligence discusses each functional element and then looks at how they contributed to major offensives."
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