VIETNAM

Pacification, Counterinsurgency, & the Phoenix Program

G - Z

Grant, Zalin. Facing the Phoenix: The CIA and the Political Defeat of the United States in Vietnam. New York: Norton, 1991.

Herrington, Stuart A. Stalking the Vietcong: Inside Operation Phoenix: A Personal Account. Novato, CA: Presidio, 1997. 2004. [pb]

From publisher: The author was a U.S. "intelligence advisor assigned to ... Hau Nghia province. His two-year mission to capture or kill Communist agents operating there was made all the more difficult by local officials who were reluctant to cooperate, villagers who were too scared to talk, and VC who would not go down without a fight. Herrington developed an unexpected but intense identification with the villagers in his jurisdiction -- and learned the hard way that experiencing war was profoundly different from philosophizing about it in a seminar room.

Hunt, Richard A. Pacification: The American Struggle for Vietnam's Hearts and Minds. Boulder, CO: Westview, 1995.

Moyar, Mark. Phoenix and the Birds of Prey: The CIA's Secret Campaign to Destroy the Viet Cong. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 1997. Lincoln NE: Bison Books, 2007. [pb]

Peake, History 26.3, calls the book "remarkable," and notes that Moyar's account is both balanced and corrective of the popular view of the Phoenix program, the Viet Cong, and the nature of the Vietnam War. Along the way, the author "displays an uncommon grasp of the problems of agent recruitment and handling peculiar to Vietnam." He also uncovers a number of often-repeated fabrications that continue to mar discussions of Phoenix.

Lauding Moyar's "balance and objectivity," Periscope 22.2 says that Phoenix and the Birds of Prey "is the definitive work on the Phoenix program to date, and will remain so for a long time." Similarly, Jonkers, AIJ 18.1&2, comments that Moyar "does not engage in moralizing, provides a clear-eyed account and thereby contributes to understanding of the facts." Dunn, Infantry, Jan.-Apr. 1999, refers to the author's thorough research and balanced perspective, and concludes that "[t]his is a fine, readable, and captivating book that I recommend most highly."

Interestingly, McGehee, from cloaks-and-daggers@maelstrom.stjohns.edu, comes to somewhat the same conclusion as the above reviewers: "The book presents a thorough description of the development of the Phoenix program and its administrative structure.... Mr. Moyar's presentation of this seems generally accurate and is the most detailed available." Regrettably, McGehee cannot resist a parting shot at one of his staple targets, commenting that the author's "reliance on William Colby raises serious questions of objectivity."

Moyar, Mark. "The Phoenix Program and Contemporary Warfare." Joint Forces Quarterly 47 (4th Quarter 2007): 155-159. [http://www.ndu.edu]

This article "is an abridged chapter" from a new edition of Moyer's Phoenix and the Birds of Prey. The author argues that "indigenous forces are much more effective than foreigners at quelling local subversion.... The great question is whether the local forces can become strong enough to establish and maintain security on their own."

Scotton, Frank. Uphill Battle: Reflections on Viet Nam Counterinsurgency. Lubbock, TX: Texas Tech University Press, 2014.

According to Peake, Studies 59.1 (Mar. 2015), this work "presents a meticulously documented firsthand chronicle of Scotton's experiences as a USIS officer in Vietnam." He "describes his personal and operational contacts with key Americans in Vietnam. These include Daniel Ellsberg, Lucien Conein, John Paul Vann, Edward Lansdale, and Frank Snepp. Scotton's observations on their roles are worth attention.... Uphill Battle adds a perspective on the Vietnam War that armchair critics cannot hope to match."

Valentine, Douglas. The Phoenix Program: A Shattering Account of the Most Ambitious and Closely-Guarded Operation of the Vietnam War. New York: Morrow, 1990. New York: Avon Books, 1992. [pb]

 

Return to Vietnam Table of Contents