HI Serra, author. Fiction??

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SternAAlbifrons
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HI Serra, author. Fiction??

Post by SternAAlbifrons » Thu Jul 18, 2019 6:34 am

Does anybody know anything about this author or his three (at least) books set in Cambodia?
H.I. Serra

Nilo Ha Tien : A Novel of Naval Intelligence in Cambodia
The Monk, and Other Stories
The Sihanoukville Inquiry : A Play in Two Acts

I came across the first when researching the US intelligence "failure" to fully understand the extent of arms flow thru Sihanoukville 1965 - 70.
All I have been able to discover was that the author was in Cambodia 1970 - 1974 and that the book is thought to be closely based on actual occurrences.

"This remarkable novel relates many events that our Naval Intelligence Liaison Officers actually experienced during the Cambodia episode of the Vietnam War. The details of these events are fascinating." - VADM Rex Rectanus (Ret.), former Director of Naval Intelligence
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Re: HI Serra, author. Fiction??

Post by fax » Thu Jul 18, 2019 7:03 am

"HL Serra served as Naval Intelligence Liaison Officer (NILO) Ha Tien on the Cambodian border under VADM Elmo Zumwalt in 1970, as an assistant Navigator and Officer of the Deck on a cruiser in 1968-69, and as Congressional Intern in 1966. He is a graduate of Princeton University and University of Arizona Rogers School of Law, and has practiced law in San Diego and been an adjunct professor of law for 38 years. He has lectured about the NILO experience at the Office of Naval Intelligence in Washington, Texas Tech University and to Navy and Army Vietnam veterans."
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Re: HI Sierra, author. Fiction??

Post by SternAAlbifrons » Thu Jul 18, 2019 7:27 am

Thanks for the name Fax.
Have you read any of his books?

I just found this 44 pg teaser from googlebooks

Nilo Ha Tien : A Novel of Naval Intelligence in Cambodia
(it might open on the Hak Ly Truck Co section as that is what i was researching)

https://books.google.com.au/books?id=F3 ... rt&f=false
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Re: HI Sierra, author. Fiction??

Post by fax » Thu Jul 18, 2019 7:34 am

No I haven't.

The Monk is available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle version

NILO Ha Tien only as paperback

The NILO Ha Tien cover looks very familiar for some reason. I may have seen it sold by the usual street folks or I'm imagining it. Perhaps it reminds me of something else and my memory is misleading me.
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Re: HI Sierra, author. Fiction??

Post by SternAAlbifrons » Thu Jul 18, 2019 7:42 am

fax wrote:
Thu Jul 18, 2019 7:34 am


NILO Ha Tien only as paperback

The NILO Ha Tien cover looks very familiar for some reason. I may have seen it sold by the usual street folks or I'm imagining it. Perhaps it reminds me of something else and my memory is misleading me.
If so, our memories are misleading us to similar places. The cover, or perhaps just the photo, definitely rings a vague bell with me too.
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Re: HI Sierra, author. Fiction??

Post by frank lee bent » Thu Jul 18, 2019 8:38 am

I have it. It is just ok. Barely. Fiction.
The Ravens is a pretty good book about the forward air controllers who worked with Vang Pao's Hmong army in Laos. Non fiction
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Re: HI Sierra, author. Fiction??

Post by SternAAlbifrons » Thu Jul 18, 2019 10:10 am

frank lee bent wrote:
Thu Jul 18, 2019 8:38 am
I have it. It is just ok. Barely. Fiction.
The Ravens is a pretty good book about the forward air controllers who worked with Vang Pao's Hmong army in Laos. Non fiction
I just finished the first 44 pages - provided free from googlebooks.
He is very old style gung ho. Not meaning to be disrespectful, but it is pure John Wayne script.
But that is how many of these guys are i guess. that's their culture.

I am interested because i read a lot of this history, including spending far too much time in the CIA reading room, the library of congress, the war college etc.
It's fascinating, but you very rarely get to read the actual field reports, or first hand accounts about the intelligence gathering by the operatives themselves. Particularly from Cambodia.
I would like to know more from first source.

Despite the bad writing, he does seem to have been at the pointy end of the hard field-intelligence from this part of the US/VN/Cambodian war story. ie the flow of arms through Kompong Som to the NVA/VC.

What i am looking at right now is the discounting of reliable, high-placed cambodian sources - since proven correct - that were saying arms shipments through Sihakville into SVN were far larger than the americans thought. In fact they were virtually the only supply route for armaments int the south.
Westmorland and "Bomber Command" did not want to know that.

This had big implications -
i/The southern part of the "Ho Chi Minh" trail was important for movement of men, NOT materiale - so much of that destructive bombing of cambodia was futile.
ii/The rationale for the 1970 incursion was largely spurious.

This is not my can of worms - it is little known in the wider world, but this failure of intelligence is the subject of much discussion within official US intelligence academia.
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Re: HI Sierra, author. Fiction??

Post by frank lee bent » Thu Jul 18, 2019 10:18 am

I should have said it seemed like fiction to me. Will read it again next week.
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Re: HI Sierra, author. Fiction??

Post by SternAAlbifrons » Thu Jul 18, 2019 12:20 pm

Background.

This paper below is a very academic, insiders, unpicking of this little known intelligence failure.
However there is also some good descriptions of the actual intelligence gathering methods.
And detailed descriptions of the arms flow itself.
It seems that guys like the "fictional" Medici, from the novel, and the real life Serra/Zumwalt did some excellent spook work but their reports were not given sufficient credence.

"Good Questions, Wrong Answers
CIA Estimates ofArms Traffic
Through Sihanoukville, Cambodia,
During the Vietnam War"
Thomas L. Ahern, Jr.
https://nsarchive2.gwu.edu/NSAEBB/NSAEB ... NSWERS.pdf

excerpts

. As an analytical failure,
however, it emerged only after the bulk of the empirical evidence, gradually increasing in volume
and improving in source authenticity, began contradicting Agency estimates. Understanding a
failure to modify conventional wisdom, rather than assigning responsibility for not seeing the pattern
in a chaos of dots, is thus the main object of this study

There were more immediately practical consequences of the failure to identify and monitor the
munitions supply line to lower South Vietnam. A comprehensive, reasonably up-to-date picture of
the Sihanoukville traffic would. for example. have afforded a much better understanding of enemy
capabilities in the months leading up to the 1968 Tet offensive. More generally, the US campaign
to interdict munitions supplies could hardly succeed so long as it ignored the nearly exclusive
source for the most populous half of South Vietnam


The resulting embarrassment produced more than loss of face. National Security Adviser Henry
Kissinger told President Nixon that this "failure of the intelligence community" resulted from
"deficiencies in both intelligence collection and analysis." Nixon penned an arty note: GJve me a report on these changes-I want a real shakeup in CIA, not just symbolism,"

(the author is a historian/academic of high standing within the intelligence community)
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Re: HI Serra, author. Fiction??

Post by oasisbarhatien » Tue Aug 06, 2019 1:43 pm

I have got the book NILO Ha Tien,and it is both a good read and has some interesting photos of Ha Tien during the war.I couldn't get it over here,so bought it via Amazon when I was in the UK
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