Thrones of the Arrogant

McNamara's Dirty War

A Vietnam Novel
By Patrick J. McGarvey

Thrones of the Arrogant plunges the reader into the midst of a mutiny at the CIA's Saigon Station triggered by the official lying promoted and encouraged by Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara and General William C. Westmoreland, Military Assistance Command - Vietnam.

The story sweeps a searchlight across the darkest recesses of three Top Secret aspects of the Vietnam War:

The Setting

It's 1964. A bold Viet Cong military and terrorist offensive designed to destroy the South Vietnamese army erupts in South Vietnam. Robert S. McNamara and Lyndon Johnson decide to follow the advice of their senior officials in Saigon. They begin to plan the deployment of American marines and paratroopers to cloak the failures of the US military advisory program and to salvage the reputations of senior American policy makers.

Characters In Conflict

The core conflict pits the crystal clear Irish-Catholic conscience of Mike Breslin, a young CIA officer, against the amoral treachery of the power-mad CIA Station Chief, Winston Colbert. Breslin, a streetwise former platoon sergeant, foments mutiny among his outspoken "Rock and Roll Generation" peers against the arrogant "Cold War Generation" policy makers. The revolt spreads rapidly among the CIA's ablest young provincial officers, who together conspire against their ideological Station Chief to block the entrance of American combat troops into an unwinnable fight with truthful reporting.

Breslin blows the whistle on the failure of the CIA's mercenary tribesmen's raids into Laos caused by a badly flawed US military advisory policy. Winston Colbert's thirst for power stirs his passions to control all intelligence reaching Washington in his quest to ingratiate himself with Lyndon Johnson. He yearns to become the next Diretor of the CIA. Faced with mutiny in his own ranks, Colbert acts to rid himself of Breslin and the other dissidents by launching murderous reprisals against all who refuse to swallow "The Company Line."

The young rebels uncover evidence linking Premier Ky with the Golden Triangle opium producing areas of Laos, where his sister reigns as the Duchess of Opium.

The mutineers surface the presence of the American Mafia in South Vietnam, which stirs Lyndon Johnson and FBI Director, J. Edgar Hoover, to treacherous political intrigue to conceal the CIA's role in the Kennedy Assassination from Congress. They pressure Colbert to squash the CIA rebellion and double-cross the Mafia in Saigon at all costs.

As Breslin senses Colbert's imminent demise, he acts to disclose the CIA's germ warfare and mind control experiments used by Colbert to topple Ky's opponents and strengthen his grip on the opium trade and internal security forces.

To gather convincing evidence for Congress, Breslin's rebels mount espionage operations against the American military high command and incur the demonic wrath of General Westmoreland. In his quest for the truth, Breslin penetrates the Viet Cong ranks to persuade a senior communist guerrilla leader to defect.

A horrible personal tragedy engineered by Colbert shatters Breslin's innocence and pushes him over the edge into vengeful madness by linking up with the Viet Cong to assasinate Colbert.

The Viet Cong Soldier

The Viet Cong revolution springs to life amid the personal and professional conflicts of Senior Colonel Tran Van Hung. He is the Commander of the infamous C-10 Sapper Battalion of the Peoples Army of Vietnam, well-trained commandos who terrorize Saigon.

His orders are to cripple the ineffective Saigon Government and help destroy the Army of South Vietnam before America has a chance to intervene with greater force. Hung manipulates his intelligence network of cooks, maids, houseboys, clerks, chauffeurs, and prostitutes who work for the Americans. They penetrate the very heart of the CIA's Saigon Station, the American Embassy, and the US Military Assistance Command. Party purists seek to punish his daring excesses by holding his family hostage. He rebels.


As this diabolical story of betrayal peaks, Mike Breslin and Tran Van Hung, now linked inseparably, both cross over to the other side. They join forces in a bloody conspiracy that results from both zealots falling from grace with their political superiors in Washington and Hanoi.

Devoutly Irish-Catholic, Breslin discovers and rejects the Big Lie tactics of his leaders. He begins a quest for the truth that spreads.

Spy Thriller Crackles With the Shocking Truth

Thrones of the Arrogant redefines patriotism and challenges the Establishment's version of what really happened in Vietnam. It also suggests what might have happened otherwise. The bloody climax reveals the price prophets must inevitably pay in every generation.

Former CIA Officer Tells It Like It Was:

"The thrones of the arrogant God overturns and establishes the lowly in their stead. The roots of the proud God plucks up to plant the humble in their place." .... Sirach 10

About the Author

Patrick J. McGarvey served as a USAF Staff Sergeant in intelligence squadrons in Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Thailand, and Laos between 1955 and 1963.

McGarvey was trained as a Chinese linguist at Yale University's Institute of Far Eastern Languages. He also received cryptographic and radio intercept training at the National Security Agency. He served as an aircrew member aboard American spy flights along China's borders at the height of the Cold War and at isolated ground listening sites in Asia. In 1963, he was recruited from the Air Force by the CIA and intensively trained in espionage and paramilitary operations for one year as an intelligence officer.

In 1964, he volunteered to serve at the CIA's Saigon Station as a military intelligence analyst and provincial police advisor managing covert operations.

In 1968, he served as a Pentagon intelligence aide to General Goodpaster, the US Military Delegate to the Paris Peace Talks on Vietnam.

He has written two other books: Visions of Victory: An Analysis of the North Vietnamese Army General Staff, 1964-1968, published by Hoover Institute on War, Revolution and Peace at Stanford University in 1969, and CIA: The Myth and the Madness published by Saturday Review Press of New York in 1972.

In retirement he teaches a course on The Vietnam War and one on CIA In The Cold War as an Adjunct Professor at Richard Stockton State College in New Jersey. He is an active member of the Vietnam Veterans of America.

CIA Clearance

The National Security Act of 1947, as amended; the CIA Act of 1949, as amended; and Executive order 12333 require the Director of Central Intelligence to protect intelligence sources and methods from unauthorized disclosure. Employees and others who have been authorized access to information the public disclosure of which could harm the national security incur special obligations to protect such information. These obligations have been embodied in secrecy agreements which I signed when I left the employ of the CIA. Current and former employees are obligated to submit material intended for publication for security review by the Agency.

This manuscript and a listing of over 120 periodicals, reference works, non-fiction books, fictional books, Congressional and Executive Branch formal inquiries into intelligence operations, and television documentaries I researched in the preparation of this novel were submitted to the Publications Review Board of the CIA and cleared for publication on December 8, 1994.

The CIA letter states, "If you or your publisher plan to refer to your former Agency employment on the dust jacket or promotional literature, you should submit this material for prepublication review." The Agency requests that the following disclaimer be printed in a prominent place at the beginning of the book.

"This material has been reviewed by the CIA to assist the author in eliminating classified information, if any; however, that review neither constitutes CIA authentication of information nor implies CIA endorsement of the author's views." .... P.J. McGarvey

Author's Note:

This story is a heady mix of fact and fiction. There were very real persons in military and civilian roles like those portrayed in this historical fiction serving in Vietnam in 1964 and 1965.

Some appear here under their own names because they were public figures with known histories and conflicting points of view.

The fictional characters have their own life histories drawn from my own imagination and first-hand acquaintances.

The possibility of these things having happened exists within the known historical facts of what did happen in Vietnam. What interests me as a storyteller is sharing my version of the truth. John F. Kennedy said in October 1963, "The highest duty of the writer is to remain true to himself and to let the chips fall where they may. In serving his vision of the truth, the artist best serves his nation."