Douglas Pike

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Douglas Pike (1925-2002) served as a Foreign Service Officer with the United States Information Agency officer in South Vietnam, and wrote extensively on the National Front for the Liberation of South Vietnam and Viet Cong. He had taken a sabbatical to write his first book, Vietcong: The Organization and Techniques of the National Liberation Front of South Vietnam[1] which quickly became a standard reference. He was never afraid to speak his mind. On his sabbatical, he spoke with a Harvard Dental School professor who was wrong on some details. Asking him if he had ever been to Vietnam; the answer was that that was not necessary.

I've never been to dental school, but suppose I give you a root canal? [2]

While the U.S. government frequently had him speak to public groups, he raised controversy when he spoke of possible North Vietnamese war crimes at Hue during the Tet Offensive, but also spoke of the disorganization and corruption of the Government of the Republic of Vietnam. After his State Department service, he worked at the Defense Department and the Congressional Research Service, and then moved to academia.

Also in his sabbatical year, he wrote a complementary book to the organization and technique monograph, focused on the political side: War, Peace and the Viet Cong[3] He is widely considered among the most authoritative sources on the opposition to the South Vietnamese government. He formed the Indochina Research Center as a reference collection while at the University of California,Berkeley[4] When funds were cut at Berkeley, he moved to Texas Tech University, which has an active program on Vietnam. He gave an oral history on his Vietnam experience to the Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library.[5]


  1. Pike, Douglas (1966), Vietcong: The Organization and Techniques of the National Liberation Front of South Vietnam, MIT Press
  2. Martin, Douglas (May 16, 2002), "Douglas Pike, Vietnam Expert, Dies at 77", New York Times
  3. Pike, Douglas (1969), War, Peace and the Viet cong (Revised edition 1969, first edition 1964 ed.), MIT Press
  4. Center for Southeast Asia Studies, University of California at Berkeley, Indochina Center materials on the move
  5. Douglas Pike (June 4, 1981), Oral History interview by Ted Gittinger, Lyndon Baines Johnson Presidential Library