I recently published on the Washington Independent Review of Books website a series of questions I posed to George J. Veith, author of the newly published Drawn Swords in a Distant Land: South Vietnam’s Shattered Dreams (Encounter Books, 2021) and the answers he provided. I’ve known Jay (that’s what he goes by) Veith since 2008, when he interviewed me about my own long history of operating in Vietnam as a clandestine agent supporting U.S. and friendly forces with signals intelligence against the North Vietnamese. At the time, Veith was working on his first book about the Vietnam war, Black April: The Fall of South Vietnam, 1973-75 (Encounter Books, 2012), in which he briefly quoted me.
During our interview earlier this year, Jay confirmed that he, like me, saw Hanoi as the iron control over Vietnamese communists operating in South Vietnam during the war who were not regular members of the People’s Army of Vietnam (PAVN), as the north Vietnamese styled themselves. We Americans called these people the Việt Cộng or VC, an abbreviation for Việt Nam cộng sản that means Vietnamese communist, but the communists themselves never used that term. The North Vietnamese called them the National Liberation Front or the Provisional Revolutionary Government, pretending that they were an independent movement opposed to the government of South Vietnam. They were in fact communist military irregulars—local forces and guerrillas—controlled by Hanoi.
Jay pointed out the two big surprises in Drawn Swords: the true nature of the Anna Chennault affair and the offer the Chinese communists made to Dương văn Minh (the Americans called him “Big Minh”), South Vietnam’s last head of state, to insert troops into South Vietnam to defend against a conquest by North Vietnam. Jay was taken aback that neither of those revelations took me by surprise. As I thought about it, I realized that I had already known about both events at the time they occurred from classified sources.
You can read the full Q&A at http://www.washingtonindependentreviewofbooks.com/features/an-interview-with-george-j-veith