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Target Saigon Volume 1: 1973-75

Target Saigon Volume 1: 1973-75 Book Review

By David L. Veres

Date of Review May 2019 Title Target Saigon Volume 1: 1973-75
Author Albert Grandolini Publisher Helion
Published 2019 ISBN 9781911512349
Format 88 pages, softbound MSRP (USD) $29.95


Regarding American withdrawal from Vietnam, Henry Kissinger scribbled “We want a decent interval” in the margins of his “Polo I” briefing book for July 1971’s trip to China.

Kissinger’s comment, some claim, confirmed Nixon Administration exit strategy aimed at simply postponing – not preventing – communist military victory.

That charge implicitly stalks much of Albert Grandolini’s superb Target Saigon 1973-75 (Volume 1): The Pretense of Peace – fifth in Helion’s illuminating “Asia@War” series. And his competent chronicle certainly suggests the reality of a “decent interval”.

Communist forces, Grandolini notes, simply “did not see themselves bound by the Paris Peace Accords”. Regular North Vietnamese units still controlled considerable South Vietnamese territory – and initiated “land-grab” attacks in advance of the ceasefire to acquire more.

“These zones would serve as jumping-off points for the final onslaught when circumstances allowed.”

Moreover, 1972’s fighting had decimated Viet Cong forces. And “to claim as much territory and population as possible to be placed under the control of the PRG [Provisional Revolutionary Government],” North Vietnamese units shamelessly posed as guerrilla formations.

Moreover, communist forces continued benefiting from over 3,000 remaining Soviet, Chinese, Cuban, and Warsaw-Pact advisory personnel. The US, by contrast, “had 60 days to withdraw its last troops from the South Vietnam, including all the advisers attached to the South Vietnamese units”.

And because North Vietnamese units brazenly “forbade any military inspection control in their ‘liberated areas’”, the sham International Commission of Control and Supervision (ICCS) – charged with overseeing the peace agreement – could operate “only on South Vietnamese-controlled territory”.

In short, the North openly pursued a conventional conquest of the South. And a “Pretense of Peace” truly characterized the period between the Paris Accords and Saigon’s eventually collapse.

Grandolini capably, thoroughly, and honestly charts the farce in seven, fact-packed chapters:

  • Peace without honor
  • A ceasefire that never comes
  • The South Vietnamese armed forces
  • The crucial modernization and expansion of the VNAF
  • The communist armed forces
  • Wearing down the ARVN
  • The communist logistical build-up

As Grandolini arguably penned the finest popular study of South Vietnamese airpower, I especially enjoyed his VNAF coverage. His notes on North Vietnamese “logistical preparations for the coming campaign” also proved illuminating.

Helion’s lavishly illustrated opus includes 18 of Tom Cooper’s superb color profiles – nine armored vehicles and nine aircraft. Lots of potent project potential here.

Photos, maps, and an abbreviations glossary also augment the effort. And a selected bibliography capably concludes contents. Unfortunately, unlike most “@War” titles, this one lacks annotations.

Make this superb study your introduction to South Vietnam’s betrayal and collapse. Then line-up behind me for Target Saigon sequels.

Roundly recommended!

My sincere thanks to Casemate Publishing for this review sample!