Lost Crusade

America’s Secret Cambodian Mercenaries

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When Peter Scott began a 1968 tour in Vietnam advising ethnic Cambodian Khmer Krom paramilitaries, they shared only an earnest desire to check the spread of communism. It took nearly thirty years and a chance reunion for Scott to realize just how much they had become a part of him. This fascinating chronicle of Scott’s experiences with the secret army of brave, disciplined warriors is by far the most moving and richly detailed account ever published of the deep bonds forged in war between Americans and our Asian allies.

Successfully blending intense combat narrative and stirring emotional drama, Scott vividly captures both the unique village culture of a little-known, highly spiritual people and their complex relationship with Special Forces soldiers, who found it increasingly difficult to match their charges’ commitment to the costly conflict. With a novelist’s powers of description and reflection and a professional soldier’s keen insight and analysis, Scott raises the standard for literature about the Vietnam War with this searing portrait of promise and betrayal.

Building on his experiences as a Phoenix Program adviser near the Cambodian border, extensive interviews with Khmer Krom survivors, hundreds of hours of research in government archives, and requests for Freedom of Information Act disclosures, Scott seamlessly reconstructs the six-thousand-strong mercenary force’s final crusade against communism, beginning in their ancestral home in 1970 and ending on the U.S. West Coast in 1995. Such a hauntingly evocative and highly readable book will both entertain and shock, and it is assured of a place among the classics on Vietnam.

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