"These are the heroes no one told you about" - Tom Clancy.
Officially the war in Laos did not exist - both North Vietnam and the USA denied they had troops there. In fact, thousands of North Vietnamese were invading the country and pouring down the Ho Chi Minh Trail on their way to the south, and the Americans were fighting a vigorous war against them from the air.
The Ravens were the pilots, all volunteers, who flew through heavy groundfire to identify targets and call in air-strikes. Their mission was so secret that they were 'sold' their prop-driven planes for a dollar apiece so they could be struck from US Air Force records. They wore no uniform and carried no identification. Refugees from the bureaucracy of the war in Vietnam, they accepted the murderous casualty rates of what was known as the Steve Canyon Program in return for a life of unrestricted flying and fighting.
Devoted to the hill tribesmen they fought alongside, the Ravens did their job with extraordinary skill and crazy courage and with a humour that was all of its own. This is the story, brilliantly told for the first time, of these extraordinary men. Based on extensive interviews with the survivors, it is a tale of undeniable heroism, blending real-life romance, adventure and tragedy.
|Publisher:||Apostrophe Books Ltd|
|Sold by:||Barnes & Noble|
|File size:||4 MB|
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
Excerpt: “Want to take a chance?’ The men who found themselves in the secret war had first chosen to draw the Chance card in Vietnam. Later it would all seem part of the peculiar nature of things that their very first experience of war should be the board of a Monopoly-style game.”
“A book of outstanding integrity. These are the heroes no one told you about.” - Tom Clancy
“His investigative pieces for the Observer Magazine on CIA assassination plots led to his first book, Assassin, and encouraged him to write two books about the war in Vietnam, Air America and The Ravens – the former about the CIA’s secret airline in the Indo-China war, the latter about the pilots who flew during the secret war in Laos.
“These were not anti-war polemics, but written with the happy cooperation of many pilots, and they described superbly the airmen’s courage, joys and disappointments – and sometimes their deaths.” - The Telegraph
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
The Ravens is a very well written and moving story of an aspect of the Americans in SE Asia which is usually over shadowed by the War in Vietnam. However unlike the war in Vietnam the American involvement in Laos could be justified. Instead of being involved in a civil war in Vietnam the US forces were secretly supporting the Hmong people against Chinese and North Vietnamese forces invading the country. This great book tells the story of the hanful of US pilots, CIA agents and mercenaries who fought a bloody, secret, dangerous war against huge odds and with little or no thanks and most people in the West not caring or knowing what has happened in Laos. I felt very moved by their stories and sacrifice.
I understand the history from individuals is difficult to piece together, but the fragmented story line results in repeats of several stories or topics. It was difficult to keep interested only because of the writing style and lack of a true story line.
Reader 'anonymous' posted on May 4, 13 that the author of the book was a pilot. He most certainly was not and says so in the ending credits of the Ravens.
The book illustrates how this country can forget or ignore those who helped in South East Asia. I served in Viet Nam in 1963 as a crew chief 1963 & understand what these guys went through. Held back by rules set down by "REMFs" & lack of support for our program, Helping the ARVN troops & people by hauling supplies & troops for them. In '62, I met a bunch of guys who worked for Air America & CAT. They were discharged, served in Cambodia, Thailnd & Laos for 6 months and were reintated in the Marine Corps. Their view was that they were doing something worthwhile. This was probably our most effective operation during the Indochina period of 1956 to 1973. Unfortunateley, the Brass Hats, politicians & State department refused to listen to anyone. The saddest thing we did over there was to forget those people who worked with us such as the Hmong, Montagard, Laotians, Cambodians and Vietnamese. It was goodby, it was nice knowing you but but we are out of here. It's too bad we don't take care of those people as well as we do our welfare majority. Read the book!!
A great story but poorly edited. (This is for the nook edition ebook). I really enjoyed this story about the CIA's secret war in Laos. The author was a pilot in the war and drew on both personal experiences and extensive research to illustrate the experiences of the Ravens who served as both forward air controllers and sometimes strike pilots in Laos, and the history of both Laos and the war there and how it related to the war in Vietnam. The book alternates between telling absolutely hair-raising stories about the combat sorties the men flew, reviewing the political and military history of Laos, and the politics of the CIA and the US Air Force in the conflict. It can sometimes drag a bit in the historical sections but stick with it because it starts moving rather well after the chapter titled "The Big Picture". This is such an unknown part of the war in Southeast Asia and is recommended reading for anyone with an interest in the topic. There's also a set of photos in the middle of the book. However, I was disappointed in the editing quality of the book. I don't know if they are original errors in the 2000 release of the book or if they are artifacts of the translation to digital format. But there are several typos and misspellings in the book, and it seemed to get worse as the book went on. Better editing could have also organized the sequencing a bit to keep a more even distribution between the very exciting anecdotes and the historical passages. But ultimately, this is a great book on a rarely discussed part of American history and I'm thankful the author took the time to write it.