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A Great Place to Have a War: America in Laos and the Birth of a Military CIA
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Simon & Schuster 2017
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The untold story of how America's secret war in Laos in the 1960s transformed the CIA from a loose collection of spies into a military operation and a key player in American foreign policy.January, 1961: Laos, a tiny nation few Americans have heard of, is at risk of falling to communism and triggering a domino effect throughout Southeast Asia. This is what President Eisenhower believed when he approved the CIA's Operation Momentum, creating an army of ethnic Hmong to fight communist forces there. Largely hidden from the American public—and most of Congress—Momentum became the largest CIA paramilitary operation in the history of the United States. The brutal war lasted more than a decade, left the ground littered with thousands of unexploded bombs, and changed the nature of the CIA forever. With "revelatory reporting" and "lucid prose" (The Economist), Kurlantzick provides the definitive account of the Laos war, focusing on the four key people who led the operation: the CIA operative whose idea it was, the Hmong general who led the proxy army in the field, the paramilitary specialist who trained the Hmong forces, and the State Department careerist who took control over the war as it grew. Using recently declassified records and extensive interviews, Kurlantzick shows for the first time how the CIA's clandestine adventures in one small, Southeast Asian country became the template for how the United States has conducted war ever since—all the way to today's war on terrorism.
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Format:
Adobe EPUB eBook, Kindle Book, OverDrive Read
Street Date:
01/24/2017
Language:
English
ISBN:
9781451667899
ASIN:
B01CO34O3Y
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APA Citation (style guide)

Joshua Kurlantzick. (2017). A Great Place to Have a War: America in Laos and the Birth of a Military CIA. Simon & Schuster.

Chicago / Turabian - Author Date Citation (style guide)

Joshua Kurlantzick. 2017. A Great Place to Have a War: America in Laos and the Birth of a Military CIA. Simon & Schuster.

Chicago / Turabian - Humanities Citation (style guide)

Joshua Kurlantzick, A Great Place to Have a War: America in Laos and the Birth of a Military CIA. Simon & Schuster, 2017.

MLA Citation (style guide)

Joshua Kurlantzick. A Great Place to Have a War: America in Laos and the Birth of a Military CIA. Simon & Schuster, 2017. Web.

Note! Citation formats are based on standards as of July 2010. Citations contain only title, author, edition, publisher, and year published. Citations should be used as a guideline and should be double checked for accuracy.
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      • bioText: Joshua Kurlantzick is a senior fellow for Southeast Asia at the Council on Foreign Relations. He has been a correspondent in Southeast Asia for The Economist, a columnist for Time, the foreign editor of the New Republic, a senior correspondent for the American Prospect, and a contributing writer for Mother Jones. He has written about Asia for publications ranging from Rolling Stone to The New York Times Magazine. He is the winner of the Luce Scholarship and was selected as a finalist for the Osborn Elliot prize, both for journalism in Asia. He is the author of multiple books on Asia, including A Great Place to Have a War: America in Laos and the Birth of a Military CIA. For more information on Kurlantzick, visit CFR.org.
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shortDescription
The untold story of how America's secret war in Laos in the 1960s and 1970s transformed the CIA from a loose collection of spies into a military operation and a key player in American foreign policy.
In 1960, President Eisenhower was focused on Laos, a tiny Southeast Asian nation few Americans had ever heard of. Washington feared the country would fall to communism, triggering a domino effect in the rest of Southeast Asia. So in January 1961, Eisenhower approved the CIA's Operation Momentum, a plan to create a proxy army of ethnic Hmong to fight communist forces in Laos. While remaining largely hidden from the American public and most of Congress, Momentum became the largest CIA paramilitary operation in the history of the United States. The brutal war, which continued under Presidents Kennedy and Nixon, lasted nearly two decades, killed one-tenth of Laos's total population, left thousands of unexploded bombs in the ground, and changed the nature of the CIA forever.
...
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title
A Great Place to Have a War
fullDescription
The untold story of how America's secret war in Laos in the 1960s transformed the CIA from a loose collection of spies into a military operation and a key player in American foreign policy.
January, 1961: Laos, a tiny nation few Americans have heard of, is at risk of falling to communism and triggering a domino effect throughout Southeast Asia. This is what President Eisenhower believed when he approved the CIA's Operation Momentum, creating an army of ethnic Hmong to fight communist forces there. Largely hidden from the American public—and most of Congress—Momentum became the largest CIA paramilitary operation in the history of the United States. The brutal war lasted more than a decade, left the ground littered with thousands of unexploded bombs, and changed the nature of the CIA forever.

With "revelatory reporting" and "lucid prose" (The Economist), Kurlantzick provides the definitive account of the Laos war, focusing on the four key people who led the operation: the CIA operative whose idea it was, the Hmong general who led the proxy army in the field, the paramilitary specialist who trained the Hmong forces, and the State Department careerist who took control over the war as it grew.

Using recently declassified records and extensive interviews, Kurlantzick shows for the first time how the CIA's clandestine adventures in one small, Southeast Asian country became the template for how the United States has conducted war ever since—all the way to today's war on terrorism.
sortTitle
Great Place to Have a War America in Laos and the Birth of a Military CIA
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reviews
      • premium: True
      • source: Publisher's Weekly
      • content:

        November 14, 2016
        In this excellent historical analysis, Kurlantzick (State Capitalism), a Southeast Asia specialist at the Council on Foreign Relations, relates how the U.S. got involved with Laos, seeing it as a vital piece in the strategy of containing communism in Southeast Asia. The ostensibly secret war the U.S. waged in Laos before and during the war in neighboring Vietnam was hardly a secret at the time. Kurlantzick focuses on the CIA’s Operation Momentum, which clandestinely supported ethnic Hmong fighters who were operating against the communist Pathet Lao. As his subtitle indicates, the CIA’s massive secret war was a “transformative experience,” changing the agency from a gatherer of intelligence into “a paramilitary organization whose primary purpose was killing and war fighting.” Using an effective combination of firsthand reporting and a thorough reading of the best primary and secondary sources, Kurlantzick tells the story primarily through four men: CIA operatives Bill Lair and the colorful Tony Poe, U.S. ambassador William H. Sullivan, and Hmong leader Vang Pao. It’s an instructive tale without a happy ending for any of the main players, and it continues to have relevance in the 21st century. Agent: Heather Schroder, Compass Talent.

      • premium: True
      • source: Kirkus
      • content:

        October 1, 2016
        A history of the CIAs involvement in the Laos war and the effect it had on the structure and evolution of the organization and its future role in foreign conflicts.The longest covert war in American history was fought in Laos, from roughly 1961 to 1975. While no American troops fought on the ground, the CIA led a massive anti-communist campaign against the North Vietnamese and Pathet Lao, a pro-communist Laotian group. Kurlantzick (Democracy in Retreat: The Revolt of the Middle Class and the Worldwide Decline of Representative Government, 2013, etc.), a senior fellow for Southeast Asia at the Council on Foreign Relations, describes the evolution of the CIAs entanglement in Laos. President Dwight Eisenhower, writes the author, viewed Laos as a nation where the United States could make a stand to prevent communism from spreading west out of China and North Vietnam into Thailand and India and beyond. By the end of the decade, it cost the U.S. upward of $500 million per year in 1970 dollars, and tens of thousands of lives were lostLao, Hmong, Vietnamese, and Thai among them. Since the U.S. government had little desire to send American troops to fight more foreign wars, the CIA took the reins, launching air strikes, managing battle strategy, and providing advisers to Vang Pao, the brutal Hmong leader whose forces were instrumental in fighting against the communists. According to Kurlantzick, the CIA was eager to expand its role, and the Laos war allowed it to become a paramilitary organization whose primary purpose was killing and war fighting. In his well-researched argument, the author relies on extensive materials prepared by other historians as well as first-person interviews with relevant characters (including Vang Pao) and recently declassified documents. The book is dense with information and might be difficult for lay readers unfamiliar with the Indochina wars, but its an important demonstration of the U.S.s ongoing, not-so-secret hand in world affairs. Kurlantzicks comprehensive account provides new insights into the CIAs objectives in the Laos war and the way that they were incorporated into its broader mission.

        COPYRIGHT(2016) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

      • premium: True
      • source: Library Journal
      • content:

        September 1, 2016
        Mobilizing ethnic Hmong in Laos to battle Communist forces, the little-known Operation Momentum became the largest CIA paramilitary operation ever, lasting nearly two decades and killing a tenth of the country's population. From a senior fellow for Southeast Asia at the Council on Foreign Relations.

        Copyright 2016 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

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America in Laos and the Birth of a Military CIA
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