The Psychological War for Vietnam, 1960-1968
Mervyn Edwin Roberts III
The Psychological War for Vietnam, 1960–1968, for the first time fully explores the most sustained, intensive use of psychological operations (PSYOP) in American history. In PSYOP, US military personnel use a variety of tactics—mostly audio and visual messages—to influence individuals and groups to behave in ways that favor US objectives. Informed by the author’s firsthand experience of such operations elsewhere, this account of the battle for “hearts and minds” in Vietnam offers rare insight into the art and science of propaganda as a military tool in the twentieth century.
The Psychological War for Vietnam, 1960–1968, focuses on the creation, capabilities, and performance of the forces that conducted PSYOP in Vietnam, including the Joint US Public Affairs Office and the 4th PSYOP Group. In his comprehensive account, Mervyn Edwin Roberts III covers psychological operations across the entire theater, by all involved US agencies. His book reveals the complex interplay of these activities within the wider context of Vietnam and the Cold War propaganda battle being fought by the United States at the same time. Because PSYOP never occurs in a vacuum, Roberts considers the shifting influence of alternative sources of information—especially from the governments of North and South Vietnam, but also from Australia, Korea, and the Philippines.
“Roberts offers considerable insights into the United States’ and the DRV’s psychological warfare, which highlights the need to look beyond combat and gain a more complete appreciation of the range of ways in which Americans and Vietnamese fought over the fate of Southeast Asia.”
—American Historical Review
“Roberts has forged a new path in this in-depth examination of an oft-overlooked aspect of not just the Vietnam War but warfare in general.”
—Journal of American HistorySee all reviews...
“Both revisionist and orthodox Vietnam War historians will benefit from Roberts’ thorough and thoughtful analysis.”
—Journal of Interdisciplinary History
“This book is very well written and documented. Most importantly, it covers an overlooked part of one of the most contentious conflicts this nation experienced—the role of psychological operations and what the soldiers did to fight a determined and formidable enemy.”
“[This] well-written book is interesting on several levels because it addresses PSYOP during the Cold War and in the advisor years and the overwhelmingly American phase of the war in Vietnam. It possesses a depth of knowledge beyond the operational and tactical levels of application and is philosophical and intellectual in its understanding of how propaganda affects decision making. Roberts draws a valuable summary of lessons learned in his analysis of American PSYOP efforts in Vietnam.”
—Air Power History
“Roberts’s book is a good primer on PSYOPs as he includes definitions of different types of propaganda and a short history of US use of psychological warfare before the Vietnam War.”
—Journal of Military History
“A comprehensive, well documented, multi-layered, and appropriately illustrated study of US psychological operations (PSYOPS) during the war in Vietnam. Roberts has done historians and students of the Vietnam War a great service by so persuasively clarifying why those efforts fell short.”
—Michigan War Studies Review
“This book is a must read for psychological operations and counterinsurgency stakeholders at policy and practitioner levels.”
“Psychological warfare (PSYOP) has always played an important role on the battlefield. In this important and well-researched study, Mervyn Roberts explores PSYOP techniques employed by the United States in Vietnam through the 1968 Tet Offensive and concludes that while these registered considerable success, this went for naught given the US decision to depart Vietnam.”
—Spencer C. Tucker, author of Encyclopedia of the Vietnam War, Revised Edition
“Mervyn Roberts goes far toward filling a gap in our knowledge of the Southeast Asian conflict with his The Psychological War for Vietnam, 1960–1968; a nicely researched overview of what formed a significant part of the fight for hearts and minds that lay at the center of the war.”
—John Prados, author of Vietnam: The History of an Unwinnable War, 1945–1975
“Long overdue, this is a comprehensive study that focuses exclusively on the role of psychological operations in Vietnam during 1960–1968. It addresses the development of PSYOP doctrine, forces, and conduct of operations within the wider context of the war. The author demonstrates how these operations resulted in what he describes as the most sustained, intensive use of PSYOP in American history. Meticulously documented and extremely well written, this book is an important addition to the historiography of the Vietnam War.”
—James H. Willbanks, author of Abandoning Vietnam: How America Left and South Vietnam Lost Its War and A Raid Too Far: Operation Lam Son 719 and Vietnamization in LaosSee fewer reviews...
The Psychological War for Vietnam, 1960–1968, also addresses the development of PSYOP doctrine and training in the period prior to the introduction of ground combat forces in 1965 and, finally, shows how the course of the war itself forced changes to this doctrine. The scope of the book allows for a unique measurement of the effectiveness of psychological operations over time.