INSIDE THE VC AND THE NVA by Michael Lee Lanning


The Real Story of North Vietnam's Armed Forces
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 A look at the other side, by Vietnam vets Lanning (Inside the LRRPS, 1988 paperback, etc.) and Cragg (The Soldier's Prize, 1986 paperback, etc.). Lanning and Cragg draw upon some 2600 Rand Corporation interviews with VC/NVA POWs and defectors, Defense Department documents, and their own knowledge to present a unique portrait. In letters home, NVA regulars expressed loneliness, fear of dying, great discomfort, and weariness--exactly like their American counterparts. But, apparently to a man, they believed in their cause--unlike the Americans they fought. Most were conscripts who went through a three-month period of training and political indoctrination and then were committed for the war's duration. The unit that trained together walked down the Ho Chi Minh trail together and engaged the enemy. The NVA were constantly on the move among a series of well-camouflaged complexes. They had hot meals, but their rations were poor, little more than dried fish, and they often were in ill health, if not from their diets then from lack of sleep. While a key to the Communist victory lay in their total mobilization and resolve, just as vital, say the authors, were their remarkable logistics. Even as peace accords were drawn up in 1954, Viet Minh cached weapons in the South, in jungle enclaves. The Chinese and the Soviet bloc provided still more munitions, and medical supplies. Cadres of civilians bicycled supplies to 26 locations along the Ho Chi Minh trail, to Laotian or Cambodian sanctuaries; one youth corps laid a pipeline through the DMZ, often beneath streambeds, to fuel the eventual tank assault toward Saigon. Impeccably researched, unbiased, and revealing. This fills a gap. (Eight-page photo insert--not seen.)

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 1992
ISBN: 0-449-90716-3
Page count: 416pp
Publisher: Ballantine
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15th, 1992


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