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Book reviews for "Prados,_John" sorted by average review score:

Valley of Decision: The Siege of Khe Sanh
Published in Hardcover by Houghton Mifflin Co (1991)
Authors: John Prados and Ray W. Stubbe
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Bait on the end of the hook
In Valley of Decision, The Siege of Khe Sanh, the authors chronicle the trials of both the Marines and the North Vietnamese who fought there. Both sides attempted to turn this remote outpost on the Laotian border into a decisive campaign that would ultimately determine the outcome of the war. Both sides failed in this attempt despite their best efforts.

After reading this book I find Khe Sanh to be the war in Vietnam in microcosm. The problems of differing perceptions held by Westmorland, Marine General Walt, the CIA, Special Forces, Marine Force Recon and the Bru tribesmen who occupied Khe Sanh illustrate the violations of the principles of war of objective and unity of command. Hovering above it all was the President of the United States exercising personal control of a battlefield from his office, 10,000 miles away.

In retrospect, Khe Sanh was a victory in a sense for the U.S. An isolated U.S. garrison that blew reville and raised a tattered American flag each day despite the inevitable mortar/artillery barrage it drew, told the Bru tribesmen and the North and South Vietnamese that he U.S. was still in control despite being outnumbered significantly. Almost unlimited American artillery and air support helped make the point.

Reading this book, one almost feels the fear, frustration, and misery the garrison endured there. Yet the reader senses the fierce pride that only combat soldiers doing a dirty, thankless job can feel. You can also imagine the rage felt when they were told simply that Khe Sanh was no longer important and to simply walk away.

Valley is essentially a foxhole level analysis of this campaign that shows how decisions emenating all the way from Washington and Saigon impacted the lives of the men on the ground. They were indeed the bait that lured thousands of North Vietnamese to their deaths. Like elsewhere in Vietnam, they were left with nothing to show for their heroic efforts.

The definitive volume on this subject to date.
As a Marine who was in the trenches at Khe Sahn, Mr. Prados and Ray Stubbe have done all of us an immeasurable service. Ray's recollection of places, people and events is phenomenal. As a "grunt" PFC then, I certainly lacked the macro-knowledge provided by Mr. Prados. They have succeeded in helping me,(and many others, I'm sure), construct a better picture of why we were there and what we did. There are a few defects, generally due to information not then available to the authors. However, until something better comes along, this book is, in my opinion, definitive.


Combined Fleet Decoded: The Secret History of American Intelligence and the Japanese Navy in World War II
Published in Paperback by United States Naval Inst. (05 November, 2001)
Author: John Prados
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Misleading title
This book starts off describing both sides' codebreaking efforts prior to WWII, something not available elsewhere, certainly not in such stunning detail.

With the onset of the Pacific War, though, there's a new thread to follow: naval operations (hence my review's title). John Prados certainly excels at describing naval operations in the light of knowledge gained through intelligence, all the while throwing in an amazing amount of detail, but there are other books describing operations (although minus the recent codebreaking informations), and better ones at that.

Sadly, by switching to operational history, Prados almost forgets about the war behind the scenes, the sleepless nights in crowded rooms, during which some "super-brains" solved incomplete puzzles, which were to prove vital in the war effort, without earning themselves the honors they deserved. Only this reason keeps me from awarding 5 stars - there are 4 for being one of the most detailed and fascinating to read operational histories of the Pacific War.

Excellent detail -- but a great narrative too
The detail in examining all aspects of intelligence in the Japanese and American navies during WWII -- from fleet recognition, to traffic analysis, to wartime production information, to the role of Ultra and decryption -- make Prados' book an excellent study. Those familiar with WWII issues will find lots of fresh material.

Prados is wise enough to limit the topic to just naval intelligence issues, but still fills 735 pages with detail and skill. The pleasant surprise is that it's so well-written, building each issue to its climax in the wartime theater. And, with 50+ years of perspective, you can feel the tide of the war shift after Guadalcanal.

The art of intelligence-gathering increased dramatically during this war because of radio intercepts, so Prados covers the topic chronologically. He has an excellent analysis of Japanese Naval strategy at Pearl Harbor, during the Pacific conquest period, and the shift to a "defensive" strategy of the homelands.

Prados does an excellent job comparing the structure of Japanese and American intelligence-gathering; also in indicating both opportunities and limitations of intelligence in war-time. The reader also sees the dramatic impact that war-time propaganda has in mis-leading military leaders.

Surprisingly low-tech intelligence issues are important at various points during the war: such as the absence of photo-reconnaissance early in the war for Americans. For the Japanese navy, poor ship-recognition skills by Japanese pilots and skippers leads to assumptions that American carriers present no threat because they've been reported as sunk -- or that destroyers were cruisers or even battleships.

The book is closed by an excellent post-war period which does two things: follows the careers of major intelligence participants and discusses social aspects of military training.

The december 2001 edition was worth the 3 month wait.
From an inteligence and operations viewpoint this is the standard
for the WW2 pacific conflict. (american viewpoint)
Well written,detailed and a great value.

Presidents' Secret Wars: CIA and Pentagon Covert Operations from World War II Through the Persian Gulf (Elephant Paperbacks)
Published in Paperback by Ivan R Dee, Inc. (1996)
Author: John Prados
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Good, but not that good
Some research was definetly put into writing this book. And at times, the author just throughs out some abstract, needless information. Almost as if he just to put it in their, because he thought the trival knowledge would make the book better.

Well it doesn't. It does fine all by itself. It gives some great insightful information to the reason behind some of U.S invasions, wars, and other candelstine efforts foreign and domestic.

Anybody that lived through the era that the book was covered will get bored easily as no true secrets are revealed. But for those born around the 80's, will become very informed.

A good book, but not that good. I give it three stars because the title does not match the book.

excellent overview
Every voter should read this book. This is perhaps the best book to give an overview on the major covert activities of the CIA and its ancestor agencies. A very well researched book. The author appears to have done an immense amount of research to write this book. Very informative and an easy read. The author appears to be unbiased and without an agenda. Every tidbit of covert CIA activity that I read about in past years was discussed in this book, plus many more activities new to me were discussed. Drawing upon this text I believe the average American can get a better feel for the sucess and failure rate of covert activities, risks v.s. advantages.
These covert activities ofter are the first steps that leads the U.S. into succeedingly hostile overt activities. The process is complicated by the fact that a covert operation has some loose oversight within our democracy. The author gives the reader a good feel for the past endeavors of the agency and analyzes the results.
I would recommend this book to any American because wherever the CIA is most active will generally be a place where crucial and influential American foreign policy decisions will follow. It is beneficial to have the past record of covert activity available. Covert activity is as the author states probably the most convenient and easiest way to accomplish a short term foreign policy objective and always a temptation to every U.S. administration, but it often comes with the price of a longterm political backlash from the populace involved.

New insight on the continued insurgency struggles in Europe
John Prados begins the book with seldom related histories, particular are the accounts of Baltic and Ukrainian insurgents in post WWII. This is the first time I have run into modern cold war accounts were the planning of covert operations in Central and Eastern Europe ran so close to the end of WWII. Prados underlines that the "youth" of Central Intelligence Agency and the treachery of Philby severly undermined any attempts to support these insurrectionist movements behind Soviet lines. Further declassfication of past interogation reports throw new light on the extent of these movements and how unstable Central Europe actually was. Prados contines into the Cold War up to the 80's and 90's where the bilateral covert conflict no longer seemed to have the raw personal nature of covert action in post WWII and the fifties. Author has obviously had a very generous access to herby unpublished documents. A must for those concerned with Cold War history

The Blood Road : The Ho Chi Minh Trail and the Vietnam War
Published in Hardcover by John Wiley & Sons (16 October, 1998)
Author: John Prados
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A Good Synthesis, but Weak Conclusion
John Prados, a veteran writer of military history, has attempted to write the first detailed scholarly examination of the role of the Ho Chi Minh Trail in the Vietnam War. The Trail, dubbed the "Blood Road," was a vital pathway through the jungles of Laos and Cambodia that enabled the North Vietnamese regime to conduct a protracted guerrilla struggle in South Vietnam. Without the Trail, the indigenous Viet Cong in South Vietnam would have been virtually on their own. Nor is Prados content just to examine the history of the Trail; rather, he poses the critical question: could the United States have severed the Trail and thereby achieved a military victory in Vietnam?

There is no doubt that The Blood Trail has historical value. Prados has pulled together high and low-level accounts from both sides to produce the first real synthesis on this subject. Unfortunately, far more is promised than is delivered by this book. One major problem is the over-focus on Washington strategy sessions by Bundy, McNamara, LBJ, et al. It seems that every book written on the Vietnam War has to detour into the Oval Office, no matter how much this ground has been trampled before. The only germane aspect of these familiar policy debates is the issue of whether the insurgency in Vietnam would be handled with diplomatic or military means. Prados shows that severing the Trail by a variety of military means was the preferred option.

Although the Americans tried everything from ground attacks, bombing, mining and raiding, they could not sever the Trail. Thus Prados concludes that, "the truth is that the war fighters lost their gambit". Well, that's rather obvious Dr. Prados, given that we lost the war. Unfortunately, by asserting that we couldn't sever the Trail by military means (which actually is not proven, only that the means employed did not work), the author leaves the reader high and dry. What then should the United States have done about the Trail? Abandon South Vietnam in 1964? Negotiate surrender? How could we have known that interdicting the Trail would fail if we did not try it? There is nothing worthy of being called a conclusion here. I also believe that Dr. Prados overstates the effect of severing the Trail in any case. Even if the US military had successfully interdicted the Trail for say 6-12 months, thereby disrupting the enemy build-up, Hanoi would merely have asked for a temporary cease-fire. They could then use the period of cease-fire to repair any damage to the Trail.

I think Prados misses the boat on this one. The Vietnam War was not an exercise in military logistics, whereby if we had severed the enemy lines of communication their war effort would have collapsed. Prados has been influenced too heavily by Jomini and Clausewitz, instead of Mao. First, the enemy would always find a way to get some troops and supplies into South Vietnam, no matter how painful we made this to them. Even if we stopped 80-90% of the troops and supplies - a real success - the remaining 10-20% would probably be enough to keep a low-level insurgency burning in South Vietnam. The war was not about logistics, it was about motivation and protracted struggle. The fact is that as long as Hanoi's leaders remained committed to victory, they could outlast any temporary US military successes. The United States never intended to adopt a large-scale, open-ended defense of South Vietnam for decades on end. Thus, the Trail was probably not as critical to victory or defeat as Prados makes out.

Blood Road
As a participant in the air activity over the trail in 67&68,I was hopeing for more information regarding the ground activites during this period. In actuallity, there is little information about either. Onr glareing error is the authors continuing referance to all FAC aircraft as Ravens. The Ravens came into being in 1967 and were working days, flying from within Laos itself. In most cases when the author is calling the FACs Ravens, they were actually Nail or Covey FACs, flying from Thailand. Still waiting for a book that covers the construction crews, maintainers, truck drivers and GUNNERS that were a brave and awesome group.

A must for Vietnam Vets
This is a must-read for all Vietnam veterans and students of the Vietnam War. Author Prados outlines why we were never able to interdict the flow of troops and supplies down the Ho Chi Minh Trail through Laos into South Vietnam. As a veteran of C-130 flare missions searching for trucks over the Trail, I now understand why our task was often so fruitless.

Sam McGowan
Vietnam Veteran, author of "The Cave", a novel of the Vietnam War.

The Defeat of Che Guevara: Military Response to Guerrilla Challenge in Bolivia
Published in Hardcover by Praeger Publishers (24 July, 1990)
Authors: Gary Prado Salmon, John Deredita, and Lawrence H. Hall
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A clear-headed account of important history
This is an interesting book written in a direct and fluid style. The details and explanations are very credible and should be required reading for everyone that has a Guevara poster on their wall. Not that they would read anything that contradicts their distorted world view, of course. To the credit of the author and translator, this book seems like it would be dry and dull, but it is not. If you're interested in history and South America, then I recommend this book.

Pentagon Games: Wargames and the American Military
Published in Paperback by HarperCollins (paper) (1987)
Author: John Prados
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wargames and the Amirican military
for me i;m searching for military wargames traninig if you can help me with any informatiion or books it will be very helpful from you thanks

America Confronts Terrorism: Understanding the Danger and How to Think About It: A Documentary Record
Published in Hardcover by Ivan R Dee, Inc. (2002)
Author: John Prados
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Convert Operations Casebook, No 2 (Top Secret/S.I. Accessory)
Published in Paperback by TSR Hobbies (1988)
Author: John Prados
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Exercise Physiology
Published in Hardcover by Oxford University Press (15 February, 2001)
Authors: Charles M. Tipton, John M. Prados, Serge Duckett, Fleck, Arlene J. Klotzko, and Tipton
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The Hidden History of the Vietnam War
Published in Hardcover by Ivan R Dee, Inc. (01 January, 1990)
Author: John Prados
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