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The Long Road Home. U.S. Prisoner of War Policy and Planning in Southeast Asia

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The Long Road Home is a companion work to the recently published book on the prisoner of war experience in Southeast Asia-Honor Bound by Stuart I. Rochester and Frederick Kiley. The two books were prepared at the request of former Deputy Secretary of Defense William P. Clements, Jr. Some of the early research and drafts of a few chapters are the contribution of Wilber W Hoare, Jr., and Ernest H. Giusti, former JCS historians who helped initiate the project. Davis carried forward the research and writing to completion over a period of many years and is entitled to the fullest credit for production of the final text and documentation. This history of Washingtons role in shaping prisoner of war policy during the Vietnam War reveals the difficult, often emotional, and vexing nature of a problem that engaged the attention of the highest officials of the U.S. government, including the president. It examines frictions and disagreements between the State and Defense Departments and within Defense itself as a sometimes conflicted organization struggled to cope with an imposing array of policy issues efforts to ameliorate the brutal conditions to which the American captives were subjected relations with families of prisoners in captivity the proper mix of quiet diplomacy and aggressive publicity and planning for the prisoners return. At a pivotal juncture the Department of Defense exerted a major influence on overall policy through its insistence in 1969 that the government Go Public with information about the plight of prisoners held by the North Vietnamese and the Viet Cong. There is evidence that this powerful campaign contributed to the gradual improvement in the treatment of the prisoners and to their safe return in 1973. The detailed account of negotiations with the North Vietnamese for the withdrawal of American forces from South Vietnam makes clear how important in all U.S. calculations was securing the release of the prisoners.

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  • Government and Political Science
  • Personnel Management and Labor Relations

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