THE RAID by Benjamin F. Schemmer


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It took six months of planning, training and intelligence-gathering as well as millions of dollars to launch a team of volunteers to liberate 55 American pilots from Son Tay POW camp deep inside North Vietnam; since there turned out to be no prisoners at the camp, little was accomplished from a military point of view except to kill a few North Vietnamese. And since the reader already knows the outcome of the 1970 stunt, the details of the preparation seem somewhat pointless too. Schemmer reports that the CIA had nothing to do with the operation; Secretary of State Kissinger strongly recommended it to Nixon. The tone of the chronicle is one of maudlin sympathy for the captives with son-of-a-gun dialogue like, ""Okay, so we didn't get them. Christ, the thing was worth doing without getting them."" Snafu stories are followed by an ail-out armed forces search for leaks to justify the blunder. Schemmer interviewed hundreds of participants, reconstructed White House briefings, and mapped large areas of the Vietnam War intelligence machinery. Whether anything is really revealed, or anyone really cares, is doubtful.

Pub Date: Aug. 18th, 1976
Publisher: Harper & Row