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Back Story to the Writing of a Military Classic
by Jeffrey Race
Now being reprinted in an updated and expanded edition, War Comes to Long An was first published in 1972 and was the book I longed to buy in 1965 as the most junior lieutenant in Vietnam—but could nowhere find. Thereby hangs this tale of my adventures then in Vietnam and since elsewhere—a tale with implications for the creative process in academic writing, for the study of institutional change and of the learning disabilities of military institutions, and for priorities in public policy-making in America and elsewhere.
Birthing War Comes to Long An changed my life. I had no inkling when I began the project with trepidation in mid-1967 at the age of 24—using my own funds to satisfy my private curiosity—how it would change both my life and the lives of so many others. Perhaps these notes on the creation of that work may inspire others so inclined to dare the same creative act that summoned me, while at the same time illuminating some issues of public policy.
Between the covers of War Comes to Long An, I kept myself out. In these pages I beg to convey the private side of that public act, inseparable from the process of creation and from what came next. Some readers may find what follows entertaining or amusing; a few may find it helpful or even stimulating. You are my real target.
Jeffrey Race is author of War Comes to Long An: Revolutionary Conflict in a Vietnamese Province. This landmark study of the Vietnamese conflict, examined through the lens of the revolutionary and counter-revolutionary movements in the rural province of Long An up until American intervention in the area, offers a human, balanced, penetrating account of war. Two new forewords by Robert K. Brigham of Vassar College and Jeffrey Record of the Air War College explore the book's enduring influence. A new end chapter offers previously unpublished scholarship on the conflict. The new version is to be published soon by University of California Press.