VIETNAM

General

C

Cable, Larry E.

1. Unholy Grail: The U.S. and the Wars in Vietnam. New York and London: Routledge, 1991.

2. Conflict of Myths: The Development of American Counterinsurgency Doctrine and the Vietnam War. New York: New York University Press, 1986.

Gibson, Library Journal (1986) (via Amazon.com), believes that the author "succeeds in showing that America's failure in Vietnam was the result of faulty military doctrine, not a loss of will." lesson from the past were too often "invalid, leading to an almost total misunderstanding of the struggle in Vietnam." This work is "well researched and well written," and it "strongly challenges the idea that the United States could have won in Vietnam."

Cassidy, Robert M. "Back to the Street without Joy: Counterinsurgency Lessons from Vietnam and Other Small Wars." Parameters 36, no. 2 (Summer 2004): 73-83.

"[T]his article aims to distill some of the more relevant counterinsurgency lessons from the American military's experiences during Vietnam and before.... This analysis also offers a brief explanation of US military culture and the hitherto embedded cultural obstacles to learning how to fight guerrillas."

Chandler, Cory. "CIA Releases Newly Declassified Assessments of Vietnam War-era Intelligence." Texas Tech Today, 16 Mar. 2009. Available at: http://today.ttu.edu/2009/03/cia-releases-documents-of-vietnam-war-era-intelligence/.

On 13 March 2009, the CIA Center for the Study of Intelligence released "six volumes of previously classified books detailing various aspects of the CIA's operations in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos in the '60s and '70s. The works were distributed and discussed at a conference hosted by Texas Tech University's Vietnam Center and Archive." The documents were written by "CIA historian Thomas L. Ahern Jr.," and "draw on operations files as well as interviews with key participants." The materials are available as six PDF files at the IRL above. The individual volumes are listed under Ahern, Thomas L., Jr.

Chandler, Robert W. War of Ideas: The U.S. Propaganda Campaign in Vietnam. Boulder, CO: Westview, 1981.

Channell, Norm [CAPT/USN (Ret.)] "Naval Intelligence in South Vietnam." Naval Intelligence Professionals Quarterly 20, no. 2 (Jun. 2004): 11-13.

The focus here is on events in 1964-1965.

Chiles, James R. "Air America's Black Helicopter: The Secret Aircraft that Helped the CIA Tap Phones in North Vietnam." Air & Space, Feb.-Mar. 2008. [http://www.airspacemag.com].

A limited-edition model helicopter from the Aircraft Division of Hughes Tool Company, "was modified to be stealthy. It was called the Quiet One -- also known as the Hughes 500P, the 'P' standing for Penetrator.... The CIA bought and then handed over two of the top-secret helicopters to ... Air America." The helicopter was used for a "single, secret mission, conducted on December 5 and 6, 1972." The mission placed a tap on a telephone line used by the country's military commanders, located in North Vietnam near the industrial city of Vinh.

Chomsky, Noam. Rethinking Camelot: JFK, the Vietnam War, and U.S. Political Culture. Boston: South End Press, 1993.

Clutterbuck, Richard L. The Long, Long War: Counterinsurgency in Malaya and Vietnam. New York: Praeger, 1966.

What the British did right in Malaya and the Americans did wrong in Vietnam.

Cohan, Leon, Jr. "Intelligence and Vietnam." Marine Corps Gazette, Feb. 1966, 47-49. [Petersen]

Colby, William E., with James McCarger. Lost Victory: A Firsthand Account of America's Sixteen-Year Involvement in Vietnam. Chicago: Contemporary Books, 1989. 1990. [pb]

Clark comment: The title sends a clear message of Colby's theme. The former DCI was convinced that mistakes, both of omission and of commission, made in the White House and by the military cost the United States a victory in Vietnam.

For Valcourt, IJI&C 3.4, Colby's book "should have been the definitive insider's guide to the intelligence side of the Vietnam conflict. Perhaps not so surprisingly he has fallen short." Colby's explanation of how he developed the Phoenix Program "is inadequate because he fails to delve deeply enough into his own frame of mind.... Despite its shortcomings,... [this is] an informative book, giving numerous personal insights of a sad and controversial period in American history."

Wirtz, I&NS 5.3, comments that readers "interested in the conduct of CIA operations ... will be disappointed by the book, which largely provides Colby's interpretations of major developments during the Vietnam war." The author "fails to address adequately the reasons why Americans so badly miscalculated the gravity of the task they faced in Vietnam.... Colby's work does offer important insights into past and present American efforts at counter-insurgency."

Other reviews include: Robert Manning, "We Could Have Won Vietnam," New York Times Book Review, 12 Nov. 1989, 18-19; and Angelo Codevilla, "The Bureaucrat & the War," Commentary 89, no. 1 (Jan. 1990), 60-62.

Conboy, Kenneth, and Dale Andrade. Spies & Commandos: How America Lost the Secret War in North Vietnam. Lawrence, KS: University Press of Kansas, 2000.

Beede, JMH 64.3, sees this work as an "important study of U.S.-sponsored intelligence operations[] and guerrilla and psychological warfare efforts against North Vietnam.... Spies & Commandos attributes the failure of these efforts to the unwillingness of the United States to commit itself to the overthrow of North Vietnam; an overly complicated command structure; and severe limitations placed on the nature of these operations, among other factors."

Comparing this work to Shultz' The Secret War Against Hanoi (1999), Leary, I&NS 15.4, concludes that Shultz is better for understanding "the complex relationships between Saigon and Washington, the nature of high level policy-making, and the political infighting over covert operations." But "[f]or the details of failed special operations or for descriptions of the marvelous toys used by the covert warriors..., Spies & Commandos is best."

Gole, Parameters, Autumn 2001, says that the authors provide "a thoroughly researched and comprehensive account of America's failed clandestine war in North Vietnam." The reviewer notes, however, that "the book is very detailed, making it valuable to specialists in covert operations and to scholars, but perhaps a bit overwhelming to the general reader."

Conboy, Ken, and James Morrison. "Early Covert Action on the Ho Chi Minh Trail." Vietnam. [http://www.historynet.com/vn/blearlycovertaction/]

"In 1961 and 1962 the CIA-trained and -sponsored 1st Observation Group was formed to counter Communist operations along the [Ho Chi Minh] trail."

Cooper, Chester L., et al. The American Experience with Pacification in Vietnam: An Overview, Volumes I-III. Arlington VA: Institute for Defense Analyses, 1972. [Ahern]

Cross, John P. First In, Last Out: An Unconventional British Officer in Indo-China. London: Brassey's, 1992.

Tonnesson, I&NS 10.3, notes that Cross served with the Gurkhas who suppressed the revolution in southern Vietnam in 1945. In 1972-1976, he was the British defense attaché in Vientiene. The first part of the book "adds nothing to our understanding of what happened in Indochina in 1945-46." The second part provides an "at times fascinating ... account of the atmosphere within the ... international community of Vientiene.... Cross has some arresting episodes ... to recount, but they are drowned in the author's unrelenting attempts to satisfy his own vanity.... The normal reader is likely to be ... disgusted by the author's frenetic self-praise." It is likely that, when they become available, Cross' reports from Vientiene "will be valuable sources.... But if you do not have to read the book, don't."

Currey, Cecil B. Edward Lansdale: The Unquiet American. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1988. Washington, DC: Brassey's, 1998.

According to a review in JAH 77.1, Currey has presented "a spirited defense of Lansdale's career." The problem is that neither Lansdale nor Currey's other informants were willing to talk about "what serious students of intelligence want to know most about -- what they did as intelligence operatives.... Because of the difficulty with sources, Currey's account is probably the most detailed that could be written of Lansdale's career."

Commenting on the 1998 edition, Jonkers, AFIO WIN (30-1998), notes that "this book provides both an important contribution to literature of the Vietnam war as well as a monument to a legend." Ahern, CIA and Rural Pacification in South Vietnam [2001], 4/fn.10, suggests that "Currey's credulity regarding many of the claims for and by Lansdale makes the book frequently unreliable."

Return to Vietnam Table of Contents