Association of Former Intelligence Officers

A BETTER WAR: The Unexamined Victories and Final Tragedy of America's Last Years in Vietnam, by Lewis Sorley, Harcourt Brace, 1999, ISBN 0-15-100266-5. This is a "revisionist" view of the last phase of the Vietnam war - revising some of the verities that became commonplace in the media, universities and public mindset during the late sixties and seventies, and the extraordinary process whereby the communist dictators in North Vietnam were glorified and left the spoils of their ruthless invasion of the south (as well as Laos and Cambodia).

Sorley, a graduate of West Point, retired CIA officer, and holder of a PhD from Johns Hopkins University, examines the course of the Vietnam War during the years 1968 - 1975, and particularly during the years when General Abrams (1968 - 1972), working with CIA's Bill Colby and Ambassador Elsworth Bunker, crafted the "clear and hold" pacification strategy to replace General Westmoreland's search and destroy campaign. Sorley describes successes - the positive side of our efforts - the increases in South Vietnamese military capability, the number of villages and hamlets secured, the effectiveness and bravery of our troops, the improvements in intelligence during these years - but also the fact that while successes were achieved on the ground, the game was being lost in the media, at the "peace" table, on the streets, and in Congress. For those detached from a commitment to the war protesters and draft evaders of yore - probably another generation away - this book contributes a balancing view to the many self-serving apologia ubiquitously available, and is worthwhile and recommended reading. (RoyJ)

Reviewed in AFIO Weekly Intelligence Notes #32-99, 12 August 1999

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