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Moshe Dayan "Vietnam Diary" Manuscript, Nearly 200pp in His Hand! He Learned How Not to Fight A War

A manuscript in Hebrew penned by Israeli military commander and statesman Moshe Dayan (1915-1981), totaling approximately 197 pages, all in Dayan's hand. The manuscript would be published 11 years later as part of Dayan's "Yoman Vietnam" or "Vietnam Diary" (Tel Aviv: Dvir Co. Ltd, 1977). Dayan's lengthy, handwritten manuscript is accompanied by a first edition paperback copy of the book "Vietnam Diary," signed, inscribed, and dated in part by Dayan as "Moshe Dayan / 28.3.77" on the half title page. Both the manuscript and the book are housed in a custom gilt-embossed clamshell case decorated with a unique leather overlay. Condition issues will be enumerated further below, but it is overall very good to near fine. The clamshell case measures 12" x 9.75" x 3" overall and weighs about 5 lbs containing all the contents.

Dayan's manuscript of "Vietnam Diary" dates from a period when he was unattached and between political assignments. (Dayan had served as Israeli's Minister of Agriculture between 1959 and 1964, and he would serve as Israel's Minister of Defense from 1967 to 1974.) In 1966, several newspapers, primarily Tel Aviv's "Ma'ariv" newspaper, but also including the "London Sunday Telegraph" and the "Washington Post," invited Dayan to write a series of articles about the Vietnam War then being fought between American forces and their South Vietnamese allies, and the Communist-led Viet Cong and their allies. Dayan's unique perspective made him an ideal war correspondent: he had extensive military experience gained in Mandatory Palestine, during World War II, and in post-independent Israel, and he was also an accomplished independent author. Dayan's proposed trip to Vietnam proved controversial, however, as Israel's status was officially neutral. Consequently, Dayan strove to make his information-gathering mission as apolitical as possible. Dayan interviewed important British, French, and American military commanders, policymakers, and politicians in London, Paris, and Washington, D.C. in early July 1966 before arriving in Vietnam on July 25, 1966. Dayan's field experiences while embedded with U.S. Marines and Green Beret units lasted until late August 1966. His startling observations are recorded in this manuscript.

Dayan's manuscript thus serves as a remarkable primary resource. The notes for his newspaper articles, and later for his published book, were drawn from individuals whom he interviewed, events that he witnessed, and conclusions which he made as an impartial observer, among them, that the United States would lose the Vietnam War. Parts of the manuscript were presumably written on-site--and even on foot--while in Vietnam. A few of the loose leaves found at the beginning of the manuscript were written in a less controlled hand than the rest. Here, Dayan wrote: "I am writing while walking slowly – I hope it will be readable." On August 2, 1966, he added: "In the last few days I was in the field with the units as part of an operation … I wrote – usually while walking – a single copy only." Several lines and short passages found in Dayan's manuscript do not appear to have been published in the final version of the book.

The lot is comprised of:

1. A compact and stylish collector's presentation case which houses both the manuscript and the first edition book. The case depicts two whimsical decorative elements on its covers: Dayan's trademark eye patch on the front cover, and the Israeli flag on the back cover. "Vietnam Diary / Moshe Dayan / The Original Remaining / Manuscript In His Hand / 1966" is gilt-embossed along the spine with raised bands. The clamshell case opens to reveal two interior compartments of different depth, one to contain the manuscript and one to contain the book. Expected surface wear including isolated grime and scuffs along the edges. Else near fine. 12" x 9.75" x 3."

2. A first edition paperback copy in Hebrew of Moshe Dayan's "Yoman Vietnam" or "Vietnam Diary" (Tel Aviv: Dvir Co. Ltd, 1977). Dayan has signed and dated the half title page of the book in part as "Moshe Dayan / 28.3.77." The book runs 169pp and contains 24pp of black and white photographic illustrations. The inner pages are lightly toned, and there is expected wear to the covers and spine including scuffs, wrinkles, and isolated closed tears, else near fine. The book measures 5.25" x 8.5" x .75."

3. An early draft in Hebrew of Dayan's manuscript for "Yoman Vietnam," consisting of nearly 200pp of handwritten text. Dayan's manuscript spans the entire length of his trip, from July 4, 1966 to August 31, 1966. The majority of the manuscript is divided into three large chunks corresponding to pages 1-115; pages 200-249; and pages 350-374, according to Dayan's pagination. There are a few loose paginated pages included within the group also. Dayan wrote the manuscript in black or blue pen on a variety of paper mounts, including blue-lined and hole-punched notepaper, mostly confining his writing to one side though sometimes writing on both sides. About ten carbon copies of pages are intermingled within the pile. The condition of the manuscript is remarkably good considering that Dayan is believed to have written parts of it while traveling in the field with American armed forces. Expected wear includes light toning, scattered stains and wrinkles, and a few rusted paper clip impressions. The average leaf size is about 8.375" x 11.25."

Dayan's manuscript includes numerous edits, margin notes, and cross-outs which suggest an intensely involved and meticulous writing process. In addition to text, Dayan also drew an original map showing military movements on page 220, and a drawing or other schematic on page 367. Though the Hebrew manuscript has not been translated, Dayan incorporated many proper names, phrases, concepts, and direct quotes in English within the manuscript. Oftentimes these terms are slightly misspelled or phonetically spelled. The English language terms, sprinkled as they are throughout the Hebrew manuscript, provide especially revealing snapshots of what Dayan was observing during his Vietnam War experience. For example, Dayan records the term "pacification" or "pacified" -- as in, "winning the hearts and minds" of the civilian population to the American and allied cause -- at least four times, on pages 72, 88, 205, and 248. "Search and kill," battleground shorthand for the Americans' ultimate military objective against the Viet Cong, appears three times, on pages 109, 221, and 369.

A selection of Dayan's foreign language terms can be seen below, divided into categories for ease of reference:

American Military or Politicians

- "Lt. Col. Jack Spaulding" (July 30, 1966, p. 1), referring to Lieutenant Jack Douglas Spaulding (1924-1966), who died in a non-combat related car crash in South Vietnam three months later, in mid-October 1966.

- "W.W. Rostow, Adviser to the President on National Security Affairs" (July 17, 1966, p. 49), referring to Walt Whitman Rostow (1916-2003), who advised President Lyndon B. Johnson from April 1, 1966 until the end of the administration.

- "Bundy" (July 18, 1966, p. 62), probably referring to McGeorge Bundy (1919-1996), Rostow's predecessor as National Security Adviser, to both Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson (served January 1961-February 1966).

- "Robert Komer, Special Assistant to the President" (July 18, 1966, p. 70), referring to Robert Komer (1922-2000), who had served as Johnson's 3rd Deputy National Security Adviser in 1965, and who would oversee the controversial Civil Operations and Revolutionary Development Support (CORDS) program in South Vietnam after May 1967.

- "search and kill - Westmoreland" (July-August 1966, p. 109), referring to the strategic policies of William Westmoreland (1914-2005), who commanded U.S. forces in Vietnam from 1964-1968.

- "1 / Lt. Charles C. Krulak, Company G 2nd Battalion 1st Marines, 1st Marines Division" (August 2, 1966, p. 201), referring to future United States Marine Corps 4-star General Charles C. Krulak (born 1942), who completed two tours of Vietnam.

Vietnamese Military or Politicians

- "Than Khe Tri" (July 30, 1966, p. 1)

- "Tran Van Huo" (July 6, 1966, p. 15), probably referring to Tran Van Huong (1903-1982), the former Prime Minister and future President of the Republic of Vietnam.

French Military or Politicians

- "General Loisillon" (July 4, 1966, p. 1), probably referring to General Hubert Loizillon (1910-1992), French Air Forces.

- "De Castries" (July 5, 1966, p. 13), referring to Christian de Castries (1902-1991), a French career military officer who served in Indochina from 1946-1954. He was promoted to brigadier general after his valiant but ultimately unsuccessful defense of the city of Dien Bien Phu against Viet Minh forces.

Other Military or Politicians

- "U-Thant" (July 13, 1966, p. 37), referring to Burmese Secretary-General of the United Nations U Thant (1909-1974).

- "Lee Kuan Yew" (July 17, 1966, p. 56), referring to Lee Kuan Yew (1923-2015), the first Prime Minister of Singapore.


- "Mrs. Katharine Graham … President of Washington Post and Newsweek" (July 18, 1966, p. 71), referring to Katharine Graham (1917-2001), the president of the "Washington Post" since her husband's death in 1963.

- "U.S. News and World Report … only a military invasion … of North Vietnam can bring complete victory" (July 26, 1966, p. 95)


- "Hastings" (July 30, 1966, p. 1), referring to Operation Hastings, a successful allied and American operation waged against the People's Army of Vietnam in the demilitarized zone from July 15 to August 3, 1966.

- "Isolationisim" [sic] (July 5, 1966, p. 10)

- "Whats [sic] going on in the World? … Tell the Americans they are mad…" (July 10, 1966, p. 23)

- "Do not go on [to] Moscow. no good. no chance, cannot do it" (July 10, 1966, p. 24)

- "Do it or get out" (July 10, 1966, p. 28) "in the main land [sic] of Asia" (July 17, 1966, p. 49)

- "There are there some hard bullets - take care of yourself" (July 18, 1966, p. 61)

- "The fade out concept…face saving" (July 20, 1966, p. 82)

- "You feel as [if] you have been dead for two days" (August 6, 1966, p. 222)

- "a very good searcher" (August 6, 1966, p. 223) - "not to destroy him, to defeat him" (August 6, 1966, p. 224)

- "some chickens some necks" (August 8, 1966, p. 242), referring to British Prime Minister Winston Churchill's December 30, 1941 address to Parliament, in which Churchill mocked the French comment that England would have her neck wrung like a chicken if forced to fight against the Axis Powers alone.

This item comes with a Certificate from John Reznikoff, a premier authenticator for both major 3rd party authentication services, PSA and JSA (James Spence Authentications), as well as numerous auction houses.


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