THE CIA IN ITS GLORY DAYS and the mad confidence that led to disaster in Vietnam are the subjects of Roger Warner's prizewinning history, Shooting at the Moon: The CIA's War in Laos (first published as Back Fire, Simon & Schuster, 1995). For a few years in the early 1960s the CIA seemed to be running a perfect covert war in Laos - quiet, inexpensive, just enough arms to help Meo tribesmen defend their home territory from the Communist Pathet Lao. Then the big American war next door in Vietnam spilled across the border. How the perfect covert war ballooned into sorrow and disaster is the story Roger Warner tell in Shooting at the Moon, awarded the Cornelius Ryan Award for 1995's Best Book on Foreign Affairs by the Overseas Press Club.
Warner describes his characters with a novelist's touch - soldiers and diplomats busy with war-making; CIA field officers from bareknuckle warriors to the quiet men pulling strings in the shadows; and above all the Meo as they realized they had been led down the garden path.
This is a book about war, about secrecy, and its illusions, about the cruel sacrifice of small countries for the convenience of large ones. Nothing better has been written about the CIA in the years when it thought a handful of Americans in sunglasses could do anything with planeloads of arms and money to burn.
"... A terrific book. Much of it reads like a wild, imaginative adventure novel. That the story is true and only now coming fully to light makes it all that much more amazing. It can only add to our understanding of how strong men and their convictions and their daring so often lead to calamity, especially for those who believe in and follow them." -- The Los Angeles Times
"With the publication of Shooting at the Moon, Roger Warner emerges as the first significant war historian of the post-Vietnam generation." -- The Nation
"This is a book about the war in the mountains of Laos between 1961 and 1973. It is not the first, but it is certainly the best." -- Journal of Asian Studies