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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 25 Anniversary Edition

36 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0700612130
ISBN-10: 0700612130
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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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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 (36 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,268,067 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

40 of 41 people found the following review helpful By Barron Laycock HALL OF FAME on September 20, 2002
Format: Hardcover
When this book was originally published in the late 1970s, it caused a firestorm of controversy due to its savage critique of the conduct of both the CIA and military advisory units within Vietnam. Written by a career CIA officer who resigned in disgust over the ways in which American policy both undermined and betrayed the very purposes we were supposed to be in Vietnam to promote, the book quickly became an international best-seller. Frank Snepp was the chief strategy analyst for the Central Intelligence Agency in Saigon, and from his unique vantage point was able to discern most of policy discussions regarding the American approach to the ongoing conduct of the war assistance being provided to the South Vietnamese. What he discovered alarmed and surprised him, for the authorities were making plans to allow the fall of the Saigon regime even while reassuring their Vietnamese clients they would support them to the very end.
As the title of the book indicates, the most salient characteristic of the American policy was to withdraw our forces in such a way as to allow a sufficient amount of time to go by before the North Vietnamese forces made a final fatal thrust into the south to take over, so that America would save face by not directly involved in the action resulting in the losing of the decade-long war. Instead, according to this strategy, there was to be a so-called "decent interval" of time separating the associated events of American withdrawal on the one hand, and the final campaign by the NVA (North Vietnamese Army) forces, on the other.
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37 of 38 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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32 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Rod D. Martin on June 9, 2000
Format: Hardcover
As the CIA's chief strategy analyst in South Vietnam, Snepp is in a unique position to speak to the issues involved, and to chronical the final fall of the Republic of Vietnam. That the fault for that fall lies with us really goes without saying, even though without question he shows in great detail the ineptitude and corruption of many in the Saigon regime along with similar in our own ranks.

Snepp shows all too clearly how the CIA (and the US generally) failed to honor its commitments in a thousand different ways, and undermined the RVN time and time again. In this, of course, Kissinger would agree; and yet Snepp painfully shows that it was Kissinger's own failures at the table in Paris that lead to much of what transpired in 1973-75.

The account of the final days is riveting, just as it is tragic.

You do not have a complete picture of what happened in Vietnam without this vital conclusion.
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56 of 63 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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