Clear, Hold, and Destroy: Pacification in Phú Yên and the American War in Vietnam

Univ. of Oklahoma. May 2021. 352p. ISBN 9780806168692. $39.95. HIST
Pacification defined American strategy in the Vietnam War. In his first book, historian Thompson (history, Films Team, Army Univ. Press) succinctly argues that the process of pacification cannot be separated from the United States’ other economic and political efforts in Vietnam, such as developing the countryside, internal improvement, and building loyalty to Saigon. The conventional destructive elements of warfare, aimed at destroying communist influence in the region, existed alongside these other efforts. According to Thompson, the province of Phú Yên, a mountainous and agricultural province situated in Vietnam’s central highlands, is a good case study of pacification. Almost continuous military operations by U.S. forces led to a decline in communist operations in the province. As Thompson recounts, the Tet Offensive in 1968 revealed the limits of that view and, by the time South Vietnamese forces took over the war from the United States, security in the province was basically illusory. Based on U.S. and Vietnamese governmental reports, including those of Advisory Team 28, based in Tuy Hoa City, this study examines pacification efforts from all vantage points, giving a complete picture of the war in Phú Yên.
VERDICT This academic yet highly readable study will appeal to readers interested in the Vietnam War and its failures and lessons.
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