Facing the Phoenix

Zalin Grant, Author W. W. Norton & Company $22.5 (395p) ISBN 978-0-393-02925-3
Grant's absorbing book deals with the so-called Other War in Vietnam, fought by Americans and South Vietnamese who believed the key to victory lay not in counting corpses but in defeating the Communist political organization in the villages. The central figure: Tran Ngoc Chau, who served the Saigon government in turn as a province chief, head of the pacification training program and secretary-general of the national assembly. According to the author, Chau probably contributed more to the pacification effort than any other Vietnamese. Grant traces his activities in concert with Edward Lansdale and other political-action operatives, bringing into focus the local successes of the Other War (especially during William Colby's tenure as U.S. pacification chief) and revealing how the program was compromised by the actions of ``murderous mercenaries operating as enforcers for corrupt province chiefs.'' Chau was ultimately betrayed by his Viet Cong brother, abandoned by the CIA, jailed by President Thieu on trumped-up charges and captured by the North Vietnamese after the fall of Saigon. He survived and now lives in Los Angeles. Grant ( Over the Beach ) tells Chau's dramatic story well, and readers will learn much about the failed pacification effort. Photos. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1991
Release date: 01/01/1991
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