A Tale of Three Wars, by Edward B. Atkinson, Army War College Foundation Press, 7342 Lee Highway, Falls Church, Va., 1997, $29.95.

Vietnam Magazine normally does not review novels, but as the late William E. Colby said, retired Army Maj. Gen. Edward B. Atkinson’s Tale of Three Wars “is perhaps a better history of the complexities of the Vietnam struggle…than non-fiction can ever portray.” Atkinson’s roman à clef examines a 1966 guerrilla assault on a government town, and the intrigue and machinations that followed, through the eyes of an American military intelligence officer and his South Vietnamese counterpart, a Viet Cong commander. “A key purpose of the book is to illustrate how participants on all sides were obliged to fight battles, not just with armed enemies but within their own organizations,” notes the preface. “The lessons…relate primarily to the dangers of misapplication of good intentions.” As Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf says in his foreword to the book, “Professionals, amateurs, and the just curious will enjoy it and be informed by it.”

James H. Gaul