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Decent Interval: An Insider's Account of Saigon's Indecent End Told by the CIA's Chief Strategy Analyst in Vietnam Paperback – Deluxe Edition, November 13, 2002

ISBN-13: 978-0700612130 ISBN-10: 0700612130 Edition: 25 Anniversary

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 616 pages
  • Publisher: University Press of Kansas; 25 Anniversary edition (November 13, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0700612130
  • ISBN-13: 978-0700612130
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.4 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,026,981 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"A great service to everyone’s understanding of what happened in Vietnam in the spring of 1975" -- Kevin Buckley, New York Times Book Review<br /><br />"An astonishing book. . . . Brilliantly argued and elegantly written." -- Seymour Hersh, Los Angeles Times<br /><br />"By far the richest document yet produced on the American and South Vietnamese end game." -- Laurence Stern, Washington Post Book World<br /><br />"Important revelations. The incredible history of the American role in Vietnam would have been forever poorer without Snepp’s perspective." -- Boston Globe<br /><br />"Provides the most detailed account to date of the operations of the CIA inside South Vietnam." -- New York Times<br /><br />"Those who read the book will shudder anew at the tragedy, confusion, and gross incompetence Snepp lays bare." -- John Barkham Reviews<br /><br />"Vigorous, gripping, novelistic in its evocation of mood, setting, and character." --Robert Kirsch, Los Angeles Times

From the Back Cover

"The value of Snepp’s book is that it teaches us, in an absorbing and brilliant manner, where the mistakes were made in the CIA and in the highest ranks of officials. . . . Even the most ardent critics of the war could not have ever guessed what Snepp the [CIA] insider has revealed."—-Gloria Emerson, winner of the National Book Award for Winners and Losers: Battles, Retreats, Gains, Losses, and Ruins from a Long War

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Customer Reviews

A must read for anyone interested in the topic.
MJS
And although making the exit may very well have been the right thing to do, the way we left violated the principles that make up the character of our nation.
Amazon Customer
Also essential reading would include Street Without Joy by Bernard Fall, Vietnam by Stanley Karnow and Sideshow by William Shawcross.
M. C. ELLIOTT

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

36 of 37 people found the following review helpful By S. A Troutt on June 1, 2004
Format: Paperback
History has a way of repeating itself. 'Intelligence is as only good as the analyst.' This book about events almost thirty years past is so totally relevant today. 'Facts and beliefs are not the same thing.' Agents in the field were getting and giving good information but it was ignored berated dismissed almost out of hand to the very end. Why? Simply 'the Powers that Be' did not like the truth and did not want the truth. They did not want it to be that way (Saigon falling) so the middle bureaucrats gave them what they wanted to hear, not what they needed to hear. And Saigon fell.
To draw parallels to 'intelligence' failures about 'WMDs', Iraqi-Osama ties, the very phrase 'welcome with rose petals' or Tennant's 'slam dunk' phrase is both disturbing and disheartening. This book tells it as it was (and is) 'Intelligence' can be used and misused.
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56 of 61 people found the following review helpful By John Anderson on April 20, 2006
Format: Paperback
ABout half way through DECENT INTERVAL one is brought to two conclusions: First of all this is a remarkably honest and straightforward piece of autobiography, and second, the author is without doubt THE Gadarene Swine. One is really not sure whether to laugh or cry at Snepp's cheerful descriptions of life inside the American Embassy in Saigon as the consequences of thirty years of botched military and political intervention came crashing down. At least we now know where the tough go when the going is tough -they go swimming in resort pools, as does our author/hero in between an almost ritualistic round of bar calls & various sorts of implied "involvements" with local and American women. Snepp has no apologies for having made a more or less complete mess of the "intelligence analysis" that he was supposed to be doing -he just points out that so did everyone else. He gets angry at co-workers who abandoned Vietnamese staff-members, spies, and "interrogators" to the mercy of the Viet Cong, or put personal profit above the safety of others -and then turns right around and comments on what a mess the movers made of his apartment when they packed up all his stuff to ship it home (on some of the planes that COULD have carried the people that he expresses concern for!. The writing verges from the mildly annoying to the totally over-blown, and in places it would be truly funny if the whole subject weren't so tragic. I gather that the CIA gave Snepp a hard time after the book came out. His behaviour suggests that SOMEONE had to! I give this book three stars and encourage people to read it because if this is REALLY what goes on in our government agencies one can only shudder at the prospects for the future.
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37 of 40 people found the following review helpful By MJS on January 6, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
In the 31 years since the "Fall of Saigon" no book has come out that better explains the events of April 1975 more thoroughly or more engagingly. Snepp had the advantage of actually being not only in Saigon for several years before and during the collapse but of being in the CIA. His insider's view is fascinating and honest. A must read for anyone interested in the topic.
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41 of 46 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on March 9, 2003
Format: Paperback
The Vietnam War was a product of the Cold War, that great conflict between titan powers that was spawned by the nuclear age and that dominated foreign diplomacy for decades. It was capitalism versus communism and democracy versus autocracy. The conflict raged not only in the battlefields of Vietnam, but also in the homeland, where the war took the center stage of a cultural and social revolution. In all of the commotion and of all the debate, the war, at the field level, became a product of the political chaos that characterized America during that period. Washington, who scrambled for a policy that worked, that appeased the nation, that placated the growing upheaval, in the end never found it. Its failure to do so produced the only solution that was politically viable albeit immoral: get out anyway you can, but by golly DO GET OUT! This is what Decent Interval is about.
Decent Interval is Frank Snepp's first hand account of the immoral exit the United States made from Vietnam in 1975. Aside from the issues concerning the righteousness of the war, of lost American lives, of a nation grown weary, and of the social/cultural revolution it became a part of, the fact is, that nevertheless, we were there, and we made commitments. And although making the exit may very well have been the right thing to do, the way we left violated the principles that make up the character of our nation. We failed to live up to the very values that we usually identify as American, or at least those values that we like to believe we possess. We value human life. We value freedom. We value honesty. And most of all we value being recognized as champions of all of that. We love that image of America. In Decent Interval we learn that America's darkest hour in Vietnam did not occur during the war.
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31 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Smallchief on October 13, 2005
Format: Paperback
"Decent Interval" is proably the most thorough insider's account we have of the fall of Saigon to the North Vietnamese army. Snepp, a CIA analyst, was an eye witness to the events leading up to the American evacuation on April 30, 1975. The CIA took offense at Snepp's account and I understand he has never received a penny in royalties for the book.

"Decent Interval" tells the story of the last three years of the American war in Vietnam, but most of the book is focused on the North Vietnamese offensive of Spring 1975 that led to the fall of the South Vietnamese government and the sudden, panicky flight of thousands of Americans from Vietnam. The story is told as seen from Snepp's eyes in Vietnam although he obviously interviewed hundreds of people in coming up with a full, complex account of who was doing what in those last frantic days in which the Americans were preparing to evacuate -- but hoping against hope that some sort of graceful exit could be negotiated. It couldn't and Snepp's theme is that people like Henry Kissinger and Ambassador Graham Martin gambled with lives -- especially Vietnamese lives -- by holding on to delusion too long.

Unlike Iraq, Vietnam was a picturesque war with lots of sex, booze, drugs, and rock n roll mixed in with the violence and human tragedy. "Decent Interval" captures the compelling atmosphere of the country. The book is often confusing with its plethora of characters, places, and scenes -- not unlike the chaotic situation in Vietnam. There is abundant heroism and nobility in these pages, as there is stupidity and venality. Ambassador Martin is probably the chief villain, but one has to feel a certain twinge of regret for him, thrust as he was into a no win situation. When writing this book, Snepp still burned with disgust and shame at the ignomious American rout -- and settles some scores with those he blames.

Smallchief
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