Memories of a Combatant Marine Officer

As a result of recently reviewing The Lost Mandate of Heaven, Geoffrey D.T. Shaw’s well-documented book on the Vietnam War and the manifold cumulative betrayals of South Vietnam’s Catholic President Diem (d. 1963), I came to know of Andrew R. Finlayson. He is another author who has written — often with piercing pathos and resonantly elegiac tones — about Vietnam and about his own memorable years there. With gratitude, I therefore soon came to read his two lucid books about the Vietnam War and about our arguably blinkered, overall unstrategic conduct of that war. For, it was a war hotly contested, but a sappingly protracted war that truly required our deeper understanding and should thus have strategically involved us — as we all too belatedly learned — in a much more inclusive and extensive theater of operations in Southeast Asia, to include Laos and Cambodia, and even Thailand.

After Andrew Finlayson and I had first become acquainted and had reciprocally exchanged some of our private and published writings — to include an exchange of ideas about “the concept and reality of strategy” and about our own distinctively different experiences in Vietnam and in a larger Southeast Asia and East Asia — he sent me an unexpected gift. It was a gift of both of his recent books on Vietnam: Killer Kane (2013) and its sequel, Rice Paddy Recon (2014).

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