Authors Take Sides on Vietnam, UK First Edition, 1967
In the nineteen thirties, during the Spanish Civil War, 150 writers were asked a simple question - whether they were for or against the government of Republican Spain. This was turned into a famous work, Authors take sides on the Spanish War.
30 years after that, with Vietnam now the conflict under discussion, it was designed by the editor Cecil Woolf to undertake the same exercise with a "cross-section of the intellectual community" in the US, Britain, France and the Soviet Union to ask the question - 'Are you for, or against, the intervention of the United States in Vietnam. Among the contributors were such luminaries as Kingsley Amis, Isaiah Berlin, Daphne du Maurier and Thor Heyerdahl. Len Deighton also contributed a short couple of paragraphs which were much shorter than most of the other contributors.
Why it's interesting
It's impressive the list of names that are contributing, which was at the time the cream of the community of letters on both sides of the Atlantic in many respects. In retrospect, it's interesting to read how Vietnam was seen at the time and the earnestness of the contributions. There were, clearly, many intellectuals rooting for the communists but also, looking through the document, a surprising range of other opinions too. Len Deighton's contribution was short and to the point, very much written in his matter-of-fact straightforwardness; his inclusion, only five years after the publication of The Ipcress File, demonstrates clearly that by this time he was highly regarded within literary circles, sufficiently so to be asked to contribute alongside such luminary voices.
Len Deighton: "The US intervention in Vietnam was neither benign nor clever. The present situation is morally wrong as well as exceedingly dangerous, but it would be a mistake to imagine that there is now any lasting solution that would be quick or easy, or one that can be described in a few weeks."