Malaya & Vietnam

I will shortly be writing an essay on "Counter-Insurgency in the 20th Century; A comparison between Malaya and Vietnam" or a title to that effect...

can anyone recommend any good books on these two conflicts that focus on the counter-insurgency aspects of the conflicts?


John A Nagl - Learning to Eat Soup with a Knife: Counterinsrugency Lessons from Malaya and Vietnam (Chicago Press) might be a useful starting point.
thanks Archimedes, your help is appreciated.

I've already done a bit of research into the topic, but was wondering before I have to spend money on books, what ones are worth getting!
Archimedes said:
John A Nagl - Learning to Eat Soup with a Knife: Counterinsrugency Lessons from Malaya and Vietnam (Chicago Press) might be a useful starting point.
Have you read it ? I'm thinking of buying it.


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The French Foreign Legion by Douglas Boyd has a chapter or two on what the French failed to learn in French Indo-China, including Dien Bien Phu.

May be worth a look.
VB - I've - what's the phrase? - 'dipped into it' and it looks to be worthwhile; it was useful background for the COIN stage of ICSC(L) .
Try ....
The Jungle Beat: Fighting Terrorists in Malaya by Roy Follows - a real good read.
The War of the Running Dogs: Malaya 1948-1960 by Noel Barber
Confrontation, the War with Indonesia 1962-1966 by Nick Van Der Bijl
Malayian Emergency by Robert Jackson
and the ultimate cheat ...
Unconventional Conflicts in a New Security Era: Lessons from Malaya and Vietnam by Sam Sarkesian
You might also like to try: Psychological Warfare of the Malayan Emergency 1948-1960. Herbert A.Friedman (2006),and anything alluding to Field Marshal Sir Gerald Templer, KG, GCB, GCMG, KBE.

Templer's tactics against the communists were held up as a model for counter-insurgency operations.
Not books but a couple of websites you might look at:

This one has some pretty good resources on it which cover your proposed subject pretty well.

This will give you a good overview on Malaya and also some good perspectives from the jungle bashers point of view.

This site has got some academic stuff about Vietnam and Malaya on it

Finally this link should serve you pretty well

Hope this helps and saves you spunking cash on books.
Have you come across H. John Poole in your research? He's a retired US Marine who has written a great deal about current insurgency/counter-insurgency tactics in the Middle East; but I'm sure he references past wars, as well - 'Another Bridge to Cross'.

Anyway, here - from the Hitchhiker's Guide - includes a bibliography:

He seems very well respected - and even if he doesn't have exactly what you want, it might be worthwhile to trawl through his sources/bibliography at the back of his book.
A fantastic read is ''the Jungle is neutral'' by F. Spencer Chapman, DSO.


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CREEEEEAK........" it LIVES! Come Igor, more power! "
" Yeth, Marthter!"

I imagine that the dissertation is long-buried. But having searched on 'Malaya' this thread seemed quite apposite. Saw this, thought of y'all:

PsyWar during the Malayan Emergency | University of Cambridge

Sound link HERE

The Malayan Emergency of 1948-1960 is widely regarded as having involved the most successful British counter-insurgency (COIN) campaign in history. Similarly, it also included one of the most successful British psychological warfare operations ever undertaken. This important aspect of the COIN campaign, however, has only been examined in a handful of studies – something which remains true more broadly of British psychological warfare efforts throughout the period of imperial decolonisation and the Cold War.

In this seminar paper (originally given on Friday, 22 February, 2013), Thomas J. Maguire provides an insight into how psychological warfare played an increasingly important part in the largest British counter-insurgency operation of the decolonisation era.

Psychological warfare was conceived as a potential “force multiplier” which would reinforce other counter-insurgency strategies and tactics employed against the communist Malayan National Liberation Army (MNLA). It targeted the insurgents’ morale and sought to induce surrenders and defections, while creating dissent, division and instability in their ranks. It was, therefore, intended to both remove insurgents from the battlefield and hasten a greater supply of intelligence.

Maguire explains how, after a relatively ineffective start, the Federation Government psychological warfare strategy became more systematic and refined from about 1950 onwards, eventually playing an important part in the insurgents’ defeat. The talk shows how ‘psychological intelligence’ was collected, analysed and disseminated – in particular through the careful interrogation of surrendering enemy personnel. Using this intelligence, the Government information services constructed a number of influential propaganda themes and utilised a variety of techniques to disseminate finished productions, most notably by dropping over 400 million leaflets over the jungle during the course of the conflict.

The paper also highlights the broader political and cultural context in which psychological operations took place, showing how they influenced British strategy and contributed to the Emergency’s outcome.

The seminar is part of the regular Cambridge Intelligence Seminar organised through the Faculty of History and the Department of Politics and International Studies (POLIS) at the University of Cambridge. It is chaired by Prof. Christopher Andrew (Corpus Christi), an expert in the international relations sub-field of intelligence and security studies. Prof. Andrew’s extensive list of publications include the recent and much-vaunted The Defence of the Realm: the Authorized History of MI5 (2009).

Thomas J. Maguire (Gonville & Caius) is a PhD candidate in POLIS. This paper forms part of a chapter on interrogation and psychological warfare in the forthcoming publication, Simona Tobia & Christopher Andrew (eds), Interrogation in War and Conflict. The principal focus of his research is British and American psychological warfare and counter-subversion in early Cold War Southeast Asia. His broader research interests lie within the fields of intelligence and security studies, psychological warfare, and the Cold War
Couldn't be more apposite Goatman, considering the current goings-on on Sabah.
Whilst academics hate the Wikipedia, one thing it will normally provide is a useful list of references to books quoted in the article. Could be good to pad your bibliography if nothing else.


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the last valley martin.. Windrow Explains why he thinks Dien Bien pHU WAS A SORT OF VICTORY THROWN AWAY BY THE politicians. In that over 80% of Giaps' resources were being used and abused by less than a third of the French resources. It's a "Haynes book of battles" if you get to read it .

However there is no comparison between how Britain handled the Malayan Campaign and how the Yanks handle the Viet Nam war .
Malaya was a small bunch of Chinese who looked and ate and thought differently to the indigenous population who hated them and would grass them up for a tanner. Unlike the VC they stood out from the locals who did not support them .

The VC, well you can see the differences so I wont waster your time .
How about a comparison between Viet Nam- and 10 years In Afghan?


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If you can find a copy, 'The Camp Across the River' by Jack William Grace Moran. It's the recollections of a Malayan Police officer who served in the Jungle Squads. I read it years ago and have been looking for a copy ever since.
Amazon do have one but I'm mean.
The Camp across the River Panther Books. no. 1468.: Jack William Grace Moran: Books

As for Vietnam, William Shawcross wrote some very good stuff, and 'Once a Warrior King' is excellent.

'Crossfire' is good,
as is this one.

Noel Barber's 'War of the Running Dogs' is very good, and I have just started on this one. ( IWT)
and this one is very useful.

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