Cover image for The Phoenix program
The Phoenix program
Valentine, Douglas.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Morrow, 1990.
Physical Description:
479 pages ; 24 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
DS558.92 .V35 1990 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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The Phoenix Program was in theory an antiterrorist program, designed by the CIA to target Viet Cong officials and sympathizers. This covert operation was responsible for the killing, imprisonment, or torture of countless Vietnamese in the name of neutralizing the Viet Cong infrastructure. The first book to shed light on and analyze the details of the whole operation.

Reviews 4

Booklist Review

The author has pulled together a small body of fact and a large amount of informed speculation to produce this account of the Vietnam War's Phoenix Program, a secret American counterinsurgency project emphasizing the assassination of alleged Viet Cong leaders. Valentine argues that Phoenix was inept, corrupt, and ineffective. However, like many writers on Vietnam, he seems to overlook the nature and sometimes even the existence of a formidable and ruthless opponent. A controversial yet thorough work, deserving of a place in larger Vietnam collections. Notes, glossary; to be indexed. ~--Roland Green

Publisher's Weekly Review

This shocking expose of the CIA operation aimed at destroying the Vietcong infrastructure thoroughly conveys the hideousness of the Vietnam War. Photos. (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Designed to destroy the Vietcong infrastructure and ostensibly run by the South Vietnamese government, the Phoenix Program--in fact directed by the United States--developed a variety of counterinsurgency activities including, at its worst, torture and assassination. For Valentine ( The Hotel Tacloban , LJ 9/15/84), the program epitomizes all that was wrong with the Vietnam War; its evils are still present wherever there are ``ideologues obsessed with security, who seek to impose their way of thinking on everyone else.'' Exhaustive detail and extensive use of interviews with and writings by Phoenix participants make up the book's principal strengths; the author's own analysis is weaker. This is a good complement to Dale Andrade's less emotional Ashes to Ashes (Lexington, 1990) and such participant accounts as Orrin M. DeForest and David Chanoff's Slow Burn (S. & S., 1990).-- Kenneth W. Berger, Duke Univ. Lib., Durham, N.C. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

The Vietnam War was a political and military struggle to defend the Republic of Vietnam from subversion and invasion. In 1967, efforts to counter subversion were consolidated by the CIA into the Phoenix Program with the explicit purpose of "neutralizing" the Vietcong infrastructure (VCI), defined as Vietnamese civilian supporters of Vietcong and North Vietnamese combatants. Valentine describes the origins, methods, and abuses of this controversial effort. Phoenix methods involved the collection of lists of suspected VIC, the accumulation of dossiers on each, and ultimately, the dispatch of forces to arrest or kill suspects. Quotas, deception, and political rivalries resulted in death or detention for the innocent as well as the guilty. Based on interviews with participants, Valentine's narrative is thinly corroborated, often depending on a single source. Valentine sees the Phoenix Program as "a symbol of the dark side of the human psyche," and as a threat to the democratic ideals that once defined the American self-concept. Although the evidence may never be conclusive, the issue is deeply troubling. General readers. -D. L. DeBerry, formerly United States Air Force Academy

Table of Contents

Introductionp. 9
Chapter 1 Infrastructurep. 19
Chapter 2 Internal Securityp. 31
Chapter 3 Covert Actionp. 43
Chapter 4 Revolutionary Developmentp. 57
Chapter 5 PICsp. 73
Chapter 6 Field Policep. 89
Chapter 7 Special Branchp. 100
Chapter 8 Attack on the VCIp. 113
Chapter 9 ICEXp. 127
Chapter 10 Action Programsp. 142
Chapter 11 PRUp. 159
Chapter 12 Tetp. 174
Chapter 13 Parallax Viewsp. 193
Chapter 14 Phoenix in Flightp. 198
Chapter 15 Modus Vivendip. 213
Chapter 16 Advisersp. 223
Chapter 17 Accelerated Pacificationp. 253
Chapter 18 Transitionsp. 266
Chapter 19 Psyopsp. 280
Chapter 20 Reformsp. 291
Chapter 21 Decayp. 303
Chapter 22 Hearingsp. 315
Chapter 23 Dissensionp. 327
Chapter 24 Transgressionsp. 340
Chapter 25 Da Nangp. 351
Chapter 26 Revisionsp. 362
Chapter 27 Legalitiesp. 376
Chapter 28 Technicalitiesp. 389
Chapter 29 Phoenix in Flamesp. 404
Epiloguep. 420
Appendixp. 431
Glossaryp. 435
Notesp. 447
Indexp. 463