#Acquisitions – Destroy and Build: Pacification in Phuoc Tuy, 1966-72

While not directly linked to my ongoing research on the Royal Australian Air Force in the era of the Vietnam War, Richardson’s book is important in illustrating some of the more recent developments present in the historiography of Australia’s involvement in the conflict. 

51o0ZOndUuLThomas Richardson, Destroy and Build: Pacification in Phuoc Tuy, 1966-72 (Melbourne, VIC: Cambridge University Press, 2017). 

In 2002, Governor General Michael Jeffrey stated that ‘we Australians had everything under control in Phuoc Tuy Province’. This referred not only to military control, but to the policy of ‘pacification’ employed by the Republic of Vietnam and external ‘Free World’ allies such as the US and Australia. In the hopes of stemming the tide of Communism, pacification aimed to win the allegiance of the populace through political, economic and social reform. In this new work, Thomas Richardson explores the 1st Australian Task Force’s (1ATF) implementation of this policy in Phuoc Tuy between 1966 and 1972. Using material from US and Australian archives, as well as newly translated Vietnamese histories, Destroy and Build: Pacification in Phuoc Tuy, 1966–1972 challenges the accepted historiography of the Western forces’ fight against insurgency in Vietnam.

Header image: Soldiers of D Company, 1st Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment (1RAR), patrol a track through a rubber plantation during operations in Phuoc Tuy Province, c. 1968. (Source: Australian War Memorial)

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