Martin Bell: Winning hearts and minds in Vietnam

Roundup: Talking About History

In my 46 years of experience in journalism, I have often found that the most remarkable material surfaces by accident.

So it is with the Saigon Songs, recordings made in the Vietnam War, which have never been broadcast before.

They are among the most moving mementoes of war I have ever heard.

Their edge is sharpened, it seems to me, by a special relevance to the wars of today.

The Saigon Songs date from the Americans' hearts and minds campaign, between 1965 and 1967, as they poured their ground troops into Vietnam in support of the South Vietnamese government.

Hearts and minds

The campaign was run by Maj Gen Ed Lansdale of the US Army, who by all accounts was a most remarkable man.

His weapons were not guns but words and music, through which he hoped to persuade the people in the villages to resist the North Vietnamese communists and the home-grown insurgents, the Viet Cong....

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