In This Review

Ho Chi Minh Trail, 1964–1973: Steel Tiger, Barrel Roll, and the Secret Air War in Vietnam and Laos
Ho Chi Minh Trail, 1964–1973: Steel Tiger, Barrel Roll, and the Secret Air War in Vietnam and Laos
By Peter A. Davies
Osprey, 2020, 96 pp.

The publisher Osprey’s short books on particular military campaigns can be invaluable for students of contemporary warfare. They feature matter-of-fact descriptions, burnished with plentiful illustrations and maps. The Ho Chi Minh Trail, which helped supply North Vietnamese and Vietcong forces during the Vietnam War, certainly deserves a volume of its own. The trail was a logistical marvel, dipping in and out of Cambodia and Laos, running more than 12,000 miles over mountains and through jungles, and employing over 100,000 workers. The route sustained North Vietnam’s war effort and was kept open despite numerous bids to shut it down. Davies outlines the various U.S. attempts—including airstrikes and the employment of sensors and physical barriers—to stop the North Vietnamese from using the trail. He concentrates on the actions of the U.S. Air Force, neglecting the contribution of U.S. Navy and Marine flyers. Despite the military and technological prowess of the Americans, the North Vietnamese were sufficiently resourceful to keep their supplies moving.