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The Phoenix Program Paperback – August 7, 2000


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 484 pages
  • Publisher: iUniverse (August 7, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0595007384
  • ISBN-13: 978-0595007387
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.2 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (48 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #233,923 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This shocking expose of the CIA operation aimed at destroying the Vietcong infrastructure thoroughly conveys the hideousness of the Vietnam War. Photos.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Designed to destroy the Vietcong infrastructure and ostensibly run by the South Vietnamese government, the Phoenix Program--in fact directed by the United States--developed a variety of counterinsurgency activities including, at its worst, torture and assassination. For Valentine ( The Hotel Tacloban , LJ 9/15/84), the program epitomizes all that was wrong with the Vietnam War; its evils are still present wherever there are "ideologues obsessed with security, who seek to impose their way of thinking on everyone else." Exhaustive detail and extensive use of interviews with and writings by Phoenix participants make up the book's principal strengths; the author's own analysis is weaker. This is a good complement to Dale Andrade's less emotional Ashes to Ashes (Lexington, 1990) and such participant accounts as Orrin M. DeForest and David Chanoff's Slow Burn (S. & S., 1990).
- Kenneth W. Berger, Duke Univ. Lib., Durham, N.C.
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

56 of 67 people found the following review helpful By sitka@teleport.com on August 26, 1998
Format: Paperback
The Phoenix Program is a grim history of one of the darkest episodes of the Vietnam War, the CIA's civilian torture and assassination program called Phoenix. Phoenix was the grotesque brainchild of William Colby and may have resulted in the elimination, to use Colby anaseptic phrase, more than 40,000 South Vietnamese civilians, suspected by the CIA of having anti-American sentiments. This was a difficult story to excavate, taking all of the professional and human resources of one of America's most gifted and tenacious investigative reporters, Douglas Valentine.
Valentine dares to tred across territory long considered taboo to reveal the shocking and baldly criminal behavior of the CIA and its South Vietnamese clients at the peak of the war in Vietnam. Wholesale arrests of non-combatants, burtal interrogations, torture of the most unspeakable nature and murder. Valentine shows that the My Lai massacre was no isolated incident, but an outgrowth of a systematic, decade-long program of state sponsored terrorism.
Dare to tell the truth about the CIA and you will pay a heavy price. Valentine's book has oddly disappeared from the shelves of American bookstores. This a historical tragedy, since it is one of the few volumes that has dared to tell the truth about the true nature of the CIA's role in Vietnam. This book demands to be republished, as it is quite simply one of the best histories of the Vietnam war.
Jeffrey St. Clair Co-author Whiteout: The CIA, Drugs and the Press
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46 of 58 people found the following review helpful By Paul Fassa on December 21, 2003
Format: Paperback
After having read Douglas Valentine's essay on how the Phoenix is coming home to roost via Homeland Security on his website, I decided to look into his book, The Phoenix Program. Besides his comprehensive, journalistic coverage of the details involved with the program, unafraid to uncover the deeds of all sides involved, two things impressed me even more.
First, this type of book usually has alphabet soup groups, projects and missions labeled with acronyms, and so many individuals' names woven through that I grow weary of reading half way through, if that far. Not so with Valentine's opus. Somehow he presents all these details in a readable fashion, which if you begin from the beginning, unfolds those normally boring and confusing details without losing the reader. At least not this one, who is easily confused by such matters.
Second, and even more impressive were his interviews. It was more like watching a good documentary than reading. Valentine conveyed the characters and their personalities so that they became real people to me, and he let them tell their stories in a very human, honest way. At times even touching, those interviewed were equally human regardless of rank, station, deed or misdeed. It's rare that an interviewer gets the interviewee's real voice and viewpoint. Great stuff, really soulfull and heartfelt. Read it and check out his article on his website, the Phoenix Program is not just history, and it's not just Vietnam.
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44 of 58 people found the following review helpful By Daniel L. Brandt on May 18, 2001
Format: Paperback
Along with saturation bombing of civilian populations, Operation Phoenix has to rate as America's most atrocious chapter in its collection of fun facts from Vietnam. Between 1967 to 1973 an estimated 40,000 Vietnamese were killed by CIA-sponsored "counterterror" and "hunter-killer" teams, and hundreds of thousands were sent to secret interrogation centers. William Colby's records show 20,587 dead between 1968 and 1971, though he likes to believe that most were killed in military combat and afterwards identified as part of the VC infrastructure.
Other testimony suggests that Colby was a bit disingenuous in these 1971 hearings. At one point Congressman Ogden Reid pulled out a list signed by a CIA officer that named VC cadre rounded up in a particular action in 1967. "It is of some interest that on this list, 33 of the 61 names were women and some persons were as young as 11 and 12," noted Reid.
Valentine spent four years researching this name-intensive book, and managed to interview over 100 Phoenix participants. If post-Vietnam America had ever looked into a mirror, this book might have become a bestseller. Instead it was published just as the Gulf War allowed us to resume business as usual, and went virtually unnoticed.
(Daniel Brandt is founder and president of Public Information Research, Inc.)
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31 of 41 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 14, 1999
Format: Hardcover
During the past few months, I have been devouring the literature on covert ops during the Vietnam War. By far the most candid, unflinching examination of these controversial programs is the excellent book by Doug Valentine. He carefully explains all the special operations techniques of compartmentalization, cover stories, plausible deniability, and secrecy oaths which are designed to keep covert ops secret forever. Moreover, he appears to have interviewed at length all the central players in Phoenix. Many books on covert ops, (which sometimes tend to glorify the operatives), rely on supposedly secret or newly declassified documents to buttress their claims. The problem with such an analytical approach is that frequently such documents are bogus, especially designed to camoflouge controversial or illegal activities. Valentine goes directly to the source -- the men of Phoenix and the officers in the chain of command. Valentine has succeeded in gaining access to many special operators who appear to have spoken from the heart about their missions. Moreover, he thoroughly and concretely lays out the structure of the controversial Phoenix program, in all of its complicated facets, from Provincial Reconnaissance Units to Studies and Observations Group missions. His book is likely to be criticized by those who wish to bury the uglier side of covert ops forever. It is precisely for this reason that his is such an important contribution to literature on Vietnam. April Oliver (former producer, CNN)
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