Moyar, Mark 1971-

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Moyar, Mark 1971-


Born 1971. Education: Harvard University, B.A. (summa cum laude); Cambridge University, Ph.D.


Home—Quantico, VA.


Historian, educator, and writer. U.S. Marine Corps University, Quantico, VA, began as associate professor, became Kim T. Adamson Chair of Insurgency and Terrorism; previously taught at Cambridge University, Ohio State University, and Texas A&M University.


Phoenix and the Birds of Prey: The CIA's Secret Campaign to Destroy the Viet Cong, Naval Institute Press (Annapolis, MD), 1997.

Triumph Forsaken: The Vietnam War, 1954-1965, Cambridge University Press (New York, NY), 2006.

Phoenix and the Birds of Prey: Counterinsurgency and Counterterrorism, University of Nebraska Press (Lincoln, NE), 2007.


Historian Mark Moyar is the author of two books looking back on the conflict in Vietnam. In Phoenix and the Birds of Prey: The CIA's Secret Campaign to Destroy the Viet Cong, Moyar relies on government documents and numerous interviews to write about the CIA's controversial Phoenix Program, a collaborative effort to coordinate intelligence to battle the Viet Cong "shadow government" in South Vietnam. The program was controversial because of numerous allegations of torture and murder associated with the program, and the author challenges many of these allegations as being false. In addition, the author also writes about how the press presented life in South Vietnam following the end of the war.

"Throughout the book Moyar traces the political and bureaucratic conflicts for both the South and North Vietnamese," wrote Hayden Peake in History: Review of New Books. "He also displays an uncommon grasp of the problems of agent recruitment and handling peculiar to Vietnam, the social and practical challenges faced by the American advisors and the Vietnamese at all levels, and the blinkered reaction of those reading, watching, and criticizing at home." Ryan C. Hendrickson, writing in Perspectives on Political Science, noted: "The book's greatest strength is its investigative challenge to the authenticity of some veterans who criticized Phoenix."

Moyar continues his examination of the Vietnam war in Triumph Forsaken: The Vietnam War, 1954-1965. This time the author focuses on his view that the Vietnam War was justifiable and winnable. The author writes primarily about the early years of U.S. involvement in the war prior to sending U.S. troops to the battlefield. It was during this time, according to the author, that major policy decisions were made that both led to further U.S. involvement and ultimately defeat. In his discussion, the author focuses on key journalists who played an important role in forming the Americans' negative views of the Vietnam War, including David Halberstam and Neil Sheehan. The author also explores the various opinions and roles of important political leaders in America at the time, including John F. Kennedy, Henry Cabot Lodge, and Lyndon B. Johnson. "Moyar … has written a radically revisionist account of America's policy in Vietnam," wrote A.O. Edmonds in the Library Journal.

Reviews for Triumph Forsaken were mixed, with some critics claiming that the author does not make a completely credible case for his revisionist history. Nevertheless, most reviewers praised the author's effort to provide a new perspective on the early involvement of the United States. Referring to Triumph Forsaken as "thoroughly researched and richly informative," Booklist contributor George Cohen went on to call it a "a valuable appraisal." National Review contributor James S. Robbins wrote: "The book is meticulously documented; it draws on the substantial U.S. documentary record of the war, bringing fresh perspectives to familiar evidence." Robbins added: "Moyar augments and supports his analysis with extensive use of North Vietnamese archival material, most of which was unavailable to the orthodox historians of the 1970s and '80s."



American Historical Review, October, 1998, Rhodri Jeffreys-Jones, review of Phoenix and the Birds of Prey: The CIA's Secret Campaign to Destroy the Viet Cong, p. 1354.

Booklist, July 1, 2006, George Cohen, review of Triumph Forsaken: The Vietnam War, 1954-1965, p. 25.

History: Review of New Books, spring, 1998, Hayden Peake, review of Phoenix and the Birds of Prey, p. 159.

Journal of American History, March 1, 1999, John Prados, review of Phoenix and the Birds of Prey, p. 1675.

Library Journal, September 1, 2006, A.O. Edmonds, review of Triumph Forsaken, p. 160.

Marine Corps Gazette, December, 2006, "The Story behind the Vietnam Story," p. 58.

National Review, November 20, 2006, James S. Robbins, "Before Quag Met Mire," review of Triumph Forsaken, p. 44.

Perspectives on Political Science, spring, 1999, Ryan C. Hendrickson, review of Phoenix and the Birds of Prey, p. 103.

Publishers Weekly, July 17, 2006, review of Triumph Forsaken, p. 149.

Weekly Standard, January 15, 2007, Mackubin Thomas Owens, "A Winnable War; the Argument against the Orthodox History of Vietnam," review of Triumph Forsaken..


Empire Page, (June 26, 2007), Alan Knight, review of Triumph Forsaken.

Radical Alchemy, (June 26, 2007), Jonathan Dolhenty, review of Triumph Forsaken.

Triumph Forsaken Web site, (July 27, 2007).

Written Voices Podcasts, (June 26, 2007), brief profile of author.