Review

Fighting Dirty: The Inside Story of Covert Operations From Ho Chi Minh to Osama Bin Laden

by Peter Harclerode



For those who enjoy reading about covert operations, there is
rarely a lack of good books to read, and Peter Harclerode's
FIGHTING DIRTY is one of those books. Harclerode, early on, lets
the reader know exactly how robust the worlds of covert operations,
spy games, and proxy wars truly are. In fact, it was surprising to
this reader that the world of secret operations is so intense that
the epic battle and subsequent fall of Diên Biên
Phú, the longest, most furious battle of the French
Expeditionary Corps in the Far East, could be reported upon in a
sentence fragment.

With this as a backdrop, I can tell you that Harclerode's book is
an amazingly dense work that traces the dirty business of covert
operations from the late 1940s through the devastating attacks on
American soil on September 11th. The early coalition response in
Afghanistan is also discussed, although understandably at a more
superficial level. The author takes the reader on a startling ride
through time and space where the lives of so many clandestine
operatives are used then discarded and where proxy armies are
employed like pawns in a perennial game of global chess.

This well written history focuses on special operations carried out
primarily by Western forces, starting in the post-bellum years of
the late 1940s and moving into the new millennium. The earliest
part of these 50 or so years was marked by a rapid drawdown of
American and British conventional armed forces as well as their
special operations forces. During this period, China and the Soviet
Union embarked on political agendas divergent from their wartime
partners in the West, while Western powers struggled to put proper
infrastructures in place to counter what they deemed as the
increasingly ominous threat of global communism.

Throughout his work, Harclerode chronicles the many conflicts that
have threatened world peace since the end of the Second World War.
The Malayan Emergency, the Korean War, Indochina, Borneo, Algeria,
and the chronicle of so many other conflicts is impressive. The
catalog of out-of-the-way countries where the uninitiated may think
Western powers have not intervened is as vast as this dangerous
game is complex.

From Indochina to Korea to the Gulf and finally Afghanistan,
readers are given an enormously detailed look at the secret battles
and the aftermaths that are shaping the world today. Von Clausewitz
stated "War is not a mere act of policy but a true political
instrument, a continuation of political activity by other means."
Harclerode's hefty work makes us realize that the twisting,
threadlike tendrils of political power, as Von Clausewitz notes,
are long, greedy and all consuming. To claim that Harclerode's work
is anything less than chilling would be an understatement just shy
of the truth

Fighting Dirty: The Inside Story of Covert Operations From Ho Chi Minh to Osama Bin Laden
by Peter Harclerode

  • Publication Date: April 28, 2002
  • Genres: History, Nonfiction
  • Hardcover: 640 pages
  • Publisher: Cassell
  • ISBN-10: 0304353825
  • ISBN-13: 9780304353828