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A Monument to Deceit

Sam Adams and the Vietnam Intelligence Wars

By C. Michael Hiam, with a new foreword by Thomas Powers

A timely story of whistleblowing in wartime

It was an enigma of the Vietnam War: American troops kept killing the Viet Cong—and being killed in the process—and yet their ranks continued to grow. When CIA analyst Sam Adams uncovered documents suggesting a Viet Cong army more than twice as large as previously reckoned, another war erupted, this time within the ranks of America’s intelligence community. Although originally clandestine, this conflict involving the highest levels of the U.S. government burst into public view during the acrimonious lawsuit Westmoreland v. CBS. The central issue in the suit, as in the war itself, was the calamitous failure of U.S. intelligence agencies to ascertain the strength of the Viet Cong and get that information to troops in a timely fashion. The legacy of this failure—whether caused by institutional inertia, misguided politics, or individual hubris—haunts our nation. In the era of Chelsea Manning, Julian Assange, and Edward Snowden, Sam Adams’ tireless crusade for “honest intelligence” resonates strongly today.


“Hiam’s book offers a rich oral history relying upon the recollections of many key players, friend and foe alike, as well as Adams’s meticulous notes, court documents, and other relevant sources.” Library Journal

“Will enlighten the general reader. . . . Brings fundamental questions about the relationship between intelligence and policy into sharp relief.” Studies in Intelligence

“A tightly written narrative history.” Harvard magazine

“In the late 1960s, CIA analyst Sam Adams was almost alone in showing what one honest person can do in the face of political and bureaucratic corruption that twisted the truth about America’s enemy strength during the ten-year war in Vietnam. Now, C. Michael Hiam provides new insight into Adams’s epic battle.” —Alex Beam, Newsday

“In times of White House obfuscation, it’s a pleasure to be able to read about the candor—against all odds—of courageous patriots like Sam Adams.” —Mike Wallace

“A definitive contribution to an understanding of the most acrimonious intelligence controversy of the Vietnam War.” —George W. Allen, author of None So Blind: A Personal Account of the Intelligence Failure in Vietnam

“An excellent book…should bring [Sam Adams’s story] to the attention of many who know nothing of the passions or the conflicts of that time.” —Larry McMurtry

“Take up this book and let Michael Hiam lead you toward a final understanding of how military and civilian intelligence failed us during the Vietnam War.” —John Rolfe Gardiner, author of Double Stitch

A Monument to Deceit
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University Press of New England, 2014 (out of print)

With a new foreword by Thomas Powers

Originally published as Who They Hell Are We Fighting?”: The Story of Sam Adams and the Intelligence Wars (Steerforth, 2006)

Also By Michael Hiam

Eddie Shore and that Old-Time Hockey

Dirigible Dreams: The Age of the Airship

Murder Aboard: The Herbert Fuller Tragedy and the Ordeal of Thomas Bram