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In the early 1960s, the American-backed South Vietnamese government began an aggressive counterinsurgency programme aimed at eliminating the Viet Cong. The policy – known as the Strategic Hamlet Programme – seriously hurt and ‘cut up’ the VC.
The second volume in this series, Hunting the Viet Cong: The Fall of Diem and the Collapse of the Strategic Hamlets, 1961–64 looks at why the strategy ultimately failed. Focussing on events in South Vietnam, the book exposes Viet Cong atrocities, South Vietnamese corruption and American military and political negligence. The book reveals just how violent and aggressive the Viet Cong were towards their own people. Fear was a weapon of choice: beheading civilians, mutilating children and destroying schools and hospitals were all legitimate tactics in the VC toolbox. The book also explains how a strategy designed to protect Vietnamese villagers made them easy targets for violent guerrillas. Finally, it reveals that there were many decent Americans in South Vietnam who understood the nation and its people but who were constantly ignored by those in power.
Using the Viet Cong’s own written documentation, in-field reports from American advisors and the testimony of the South Vietnamese themselves, the second volume in the Hunting the Viet Cong series shines a light on multiple failures in South Vietnam: terror, corruption, ineptitude and arrogance caused the Strategic Hamlet Programme to fail. The book covers the collapse of the Strategic Hamlet Programme, the rise of the insurgency and the overthrow of President Diem.
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