Book Review: The Cambodian Wars: Clashing Armies and CIA Covert Operations by Kenneth Conboy

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    The Central Intelligence Agency. The name carries such a weight to it. Former President LyndonJohnson once said that the CIA "is made up of boys whose families sent them to Princeton butwouldn't let them into the family brokerage business."Indeed, the CIA's reputation as anagency of intelligent yet potentially mysterious people precedes it. Nowhere was this moreevident than in CIA dealings in Southeast Asia, where a litany of operations, including the contro-versial Operation Menu and Operation Freedom Deal, transformed the region considerably andhad the adverse effect of contributing to the rise of three communist regimes. While CIA dealingsin Vietnam tend to take the spotlight, covert operations in the "sideshow"of the Indochina conflict,Cambodia, remains unexplored terrain. Enter The Cambodian Wars by former policy analyst anddeputy director of the Asian Studies Center in Washington DC, Kenneth Conboy, who has com-posed the first study of CIA operations in Cambodia, and the first English-language analysis ofthe nation's non-communist resistance. The author builds on his previous works, Spies and Com-mandos (2000) and The CIA's Secret War in Tibet (2002), specifically, to argue that the CIAbecame "a pragmatic and attractive alternative"(p. xii) for support for anti-communist forces inCambodia, notably the Khmer People's National Liberation Front (KPNLF, 1979-1993).
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)138-139
    JournalJournal of East Asian Studies
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2017


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