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WAR IN THE MODERN WORLD

The University Press of Kansas has published Vietnam's High Ground, a really fine history of America's war as it was fought in the Central Highlands that made up much of the country's land mass, and that -- significantly -- also spread into Cambodia and Laos. Sparsely populated, and long shunned by the lowland Vietnamese, it was the perfect hideout and training field for North Vietnamese infiltrators all through the war. (Indeed, the first and final major battles of the war were fought in the Highlands.) Paul Harris of the British Army's academy at Sandhurst wrote the book from U.S. and Vietnamese sources, and -- a rarity in Vietnam histories -- salted it with excellent maps. Highly recommended.

Philippe Drouin aka Cowboy I got the book because I've decided to expand my web page about Cowboy, aka Philippe Drouin, aka Y-Mlo Krdruin, the Special Forces interpreter who became a warlord in his own right. This project took me back to Jim Morris's wonderful memoir of his time in Vietnam as a Green Beret captain. Dr. Harris's book is a history scholar's view of what the soldier lived and what I glimpsed as a journalist in 1964, when the conflict was changing from guerrilla insurgency to full-blown war. It's quite an experience to read the two books together.

That's Philippe on the right. The image is cropped from a much larger photograph of a Strike Force column en route to Tan Hoa, a mission that inspired me to write Incident at Muc Wa. I'd very much like to hear from anyone who met Philippe in his brief lifetime, from 1936 to 1968, when he was apparently executed by his own side. (That was FULRO, the rebel Highlanders who tried in vain to win their independence, first from the Saigon government, then from Hanoi. In the end, the victorious communists treated them much worse than ever the much-despised South Vietnamese did.) If you know anything about all this, please send me an email. Thank you.

Incident at Muc Wa

And yes, Ken Burns's Vietnam War documentary begins September 17 on PBS stations and online at the Public Broadcasting service. Its ten episodes begin with "Deja Vu" (1858-1961) and end with "The Weight of Memory" (1973 to the present) -- and no, you can't binge-watch them. This is old-fashioned television. Blue skies! -- Dan Ford

The essays (in more or less chronological order)

A Rebel in the County Cork, 1915-1923: case study of an insurgency
Was the Cold War an Inevitable Outcome of World War 2?
The Clayton Theorem: Did George Marshall Save the US from Economic Collapse?
To what extent is the US experience in Iraq comparable to their experience in Vietnam?
'Not Right, but British': The Superpower Role in the Falklands War
'But the Russians won, after all!: lessons from the Chechen wars
China: O brave new hegemon!
That's what presidents are for! (Why is 'planning' not the same thing as 'strategy'?)
When Sun-tzu met Clausewitz: John Boyd, the OODA Loop, and the invasion of Iraq
War sucks. Get over it. ('Hybrid war' is a novel concept that captures a real change in the character of warfare: discuss)
How would John Boyd have waged a counterinsurgency?

Other good stuff to read

Gaddis: George Kennan: An American Life
Finkel: The Good Soldiers
Arreguin-Toft: How the Weak Win Wars: A Theory of Asymmetric Conflict
Luttwak: Strategy: The Logic of War and Peace
Smith: The Utility of Force: The Art of War in the Modern World
Galula: Counterinsurgency Warfare: Theory and Practice
van Creveld: The Transformation of War
Bobbitt: 'Terror and Consent: The Wars for the 21st Century'
Ricks: 'The Gamble: Petraeus and the American Military Adventure in Iraq
Wright: 'The Looming Tower: The Road to 9/11'
Adams: 'The Army After Next: The First Postindustrial Army'
Was John Boyd a new Sun Tzu? (books about the OODA Loop)
A counterinsurgency reading list by John Nagl
50 best books about terrorism, by Joshua Sinai

Question? Comment? Newsletter? Send me an email. Blue skies! — Daniel Ford

A Vision So Noble

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Posted September 2017. Websites © 1997-2017 Daniel Ford; all rights reserved.