PARTHIAN SHOT by Loyd Little


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Gone are the good old days when war was hell -- at least for boy-scout-in-green-beret Phil Warren who joined the Special Forces as a medic because they're ""all the things I dreamed about as a boy."" He'll tell you the CIA knew how to run a guerrilla war right, but once the Army took over, SNAFU. His team, which also includes an incompetent officer who's always getting wounded in his privates; a tough, knowledgeable stoic lifer; a ""brilliant"" beatnik type from NYC; a black who thinks he's Oriental and a white who thinks he's black; gets lost in the bureaucratic machine and they are recruited as benign mercenaries by local provincials, the Hoa Hao, who distrust VC and ARVN equally. Warren, who's portrayed as the second Tom Dooley anyway, becomes famous as the saint-doctor who walks on water after a water-skiing expedition. The cadre's textile factory (VC flags and bras) and other feats of American ingenuity bring people's capitalism and enough prosperity to ""their"" village to subsidize a Rand Corp. study whose brainchild is Operation Parthian Shot. This maneuver climaxes with a silly scene where a Patton-like American and an inscrutable VC general are each convinced the other is a double agent, thus neutralizing the village's position. And with tacticians like that and tasteless low-humor romps like this, is it any wonder we lost?

Pub Date: April 10th, 1975
Publisher: Viking