For readers who care little about military strategy or precisely how each combatant died, Bowden offers copious context about why it matters what occurred in Vietnam at the beginning of —why it mattered so much then, and why it matters so much in Bowden is masterful in introducing characters whose names have often never appeared in the news but whose actions help explain the complications for the United States of becoming involved in faraway wars involving nearly invisible enemies.
It is a riveting account, certain to become a motion picture, of valor, heroism, rank foolhardiness, and unshakable camaraderie. Rosen, Claremont Review of Books. Bushnell, Military Officer Magazine. Altschuler, Minneapolis Star-Tribune. Many lessons, including how government can lie and [the] role of an effective media in finding truth. Most impressive of all, Bowden deftly blends clear descriptions of complex troop movements with careful attention to the human impact of the fighting.
He masterfully captures the mix of bravery, fear, cruelty, generosity, and fatalism that swirled among the Americans who never knew where the next bullet would come from. Bowden deserves enormous credit for calling new attention to an often-overlooked battle and especially for recovering the experiences of those who fought amid otherworldly horrors. A day-by-day, sometimes hour-by-hour, reconstruction of events.
There is a potent immediacy to his narrative, an almost cinematic vividness, and the momentum seldom flags, even over more than pages. Given especially the multiple armed forces involved in the battle and the sprawling cast of characters, this is no small feat. An engrossing, fair-minded, up-close account of one of the great battles in the long struggle for Vietnam.
His account limns many of the ambitions, delusions, and misconceptions on both sides—those of key decision-makers, military commanders, and ordinary soldiers alike—that made the war such a vicious and destructive tragedy. The story of Hue, like the story of Vietnam, is awash in paradox, irony, and senseless destruction. Bowden reconstructs the battle with extraordinary skill and dexterity. Hue is one of the few. Hue celebrates and commemorates all the men and women who fought in this harrowing battle.
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Anyone looking to understand what Vietnam was all about would do well to read Hue Warren, Daily Beast. Bowden revisits the historic battle with the same character-driven, grunt-level reporting style that made Black Hawk Down a bestseller. He lends a sympathetic ear to surviving soldiers on both sides, as well as guerrillas and civilians, and gives a vivid account of courage and cowardice, heroism and slaughter. His emphasis on firsthand accounts gives a vital heart to the unfolding events.
Not only are the personal stories Bowden uncovers at turns deeply moving and horrifying, but they also pose uncomfortable parallels with current events in the Middle East and Afghanistan. The historical lessons that have a human face, that sicken our guts and tug at our heart strings, are more intuitive and more persuasive than dry scholarly formulations abstractly speculating about the victories that could have been.
Bowden, through myriad interviews, comprehensive documentary research, and painstaking cross-checking, tells this story of war, betrayal, hubris and idealism. Bowden offers no ideology. He sees what happened, and clearly tells what he sees, checks, and can cross-reference. He does this with a humanistic voice. He has an ear for the voices of suffering, of loss and pain; of fear and courage, of hope and frustration. His is a skill to find the exact quotations, the right anecdote, the resigned aside, which will help us understand how we came to be fighting in that faraway land. This is grim storytelling at its finest; Bowden digs deep into the personal recollections of scores of participants.
Bowden confronts head-on the horrific senselessness of battle and the toll it takes on people, and he grants Hue the regard it deserves as a defining moment in a war that continues to influence how America views its role in the world. The helicopter Dao sent to Saigon to pick us up deposited us just outside the town. Neither we, nor General Dao, had expected the tide of advancing communist forces to so quickly and completely surround the town. General Dao, however, was full of vim and eager for the battle.
Slapping a swagger stick along his leg, he quickly loaded the two journalists who had accepted his invitation, myself and UPI reporter Leon Daniel, into a Jeep and barreled into the town. At first, we thought it was deserted. Then slowly, and one by one, South Vietnamese troopers began to stick their heads out of foxholes they had dug in the streets.
Dao yelled that they were prepared to fight the enemy, come what may. However, we noted with more than a little trepidation that none of them were budging from their holes as Dao led us down the dusty street. Suddenly, a mortar shell landed in the dust no more than 10 feet from us. It was followed by a barrage of incoming automatic weapon and artillery rounds. Dao wisely called an end to his press tour. We tore back to a landing zone that we had arrived at less than an hour later. Dao called in a helicopter to evacuate us, but suddenly, the ARVN troops who had been seated alongside the road broke and ran for the incoming helos.
In less time than it takes to tell, the panicked soldiers swarmed into the helicopter, which was to be our only way out. Crewmen tried to turn them back, but the helicopter lurched into the air with two soldiers hanging from the skids. At that moment, Leon and I had a sinking feeling that we were going to be part of the fall of Xuan Loc. For us, the war looked like it was about to be over.
However, Dao had one more trick up his sleeve, and he called in his personal helicopter behind his headquarters. Joe Galloway. At the moment I hit the button I did not recognize the GI who was dashing across the clearing to load the body of a comrade aboard the waiting Huey helicopter. Later I realized that I had shot a photo, in the heat of battle, of my childhood friend from the little town of Refugio, Texas. Vince Cantu and I went through school together right to graduation with the Refugio High School Class of — a total of 55 of us.
The next time I saw Vince was on that terrible bloody ground in the la Drang. Each of us was terribly afraid that the other was going to be killed in the next minutes. His bosses read the papers and discovered they had a real hero pushing one of their buses. So they made Vince a Supervisor and all he did from then to retirement was stand in the door with a clipboard checking buses in and out.
Larry Burrows. The fraction of a second captured in most photographs is just that: a snapshot of a moment in time.
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Sometimes, even in war, that moment can tell a whole story with clarity, but it can be ambiguous too. Purdie was being restrained from turning back to aid his CO. The scene is as wretched as the other. Purdie, wounded for the third time in the war, was about to be flown to a hospital ship off the Vietnamese coast and leave that country for his last time.
The composition of the photograph has been compared to the work of the old masters, but some see it more cinematically: as if you could run a film backwards and forwards to view more of the story. Exhibiting museums have found in it Christian iconography. And at least one psychiatrist treating war veterans has used it in his practice. Unknowable then was also the life Purdie would live after his 20 years in the Marine Corps, or how important to him faith would become.
Vietnam War Books: Nonfiction
David Hume Kennerly. Long-forgotten photographs sometimes leap out at me and I am stunned by certain moments that I documented that were so routine when I made them, but are now infused with new emotion and meaning. This picture of a haunted-looking young American GI taking refuge under a poncho from monsoon rains in the jungles outside of Da Nang while on patrol in is one of them. Many had that intense blaze of realization when a comrade was suddenly, violently, unexpectedly gone, and marveled at still being left intact.
What was his next act, and what happened after he returned from Vietnam? Paul Schutzer. Paul got carried away with all the emotions that happen in war, and he was right in there with the soldiers in battles. There was one photo of prisoners being guarded by an American soldier about 18 years old. The captives were young children and old women and one woman is nursing her baby. Unfortunately the young soldier was later killed but this image conveyed the senselessness and horror of how the human condition was playing out.
The soldiers were very sympathetic to the civilians and one medic befriended them. It was the first time that Americans saw and learned that we were using napalm. David Burnett. David Burnett—Contact Press Images. In Vietnam in the early s, the only real limitation was finding a ride. But nearly until the end of the U. It was by choice. That said, it was often a world of anonymous photographers spending time with anonymous soldiers. So while we would talk with the troops about what was happening that day, there were many moments where in the course of making photographs, I would just keep moving along.
I usually knew the unit but looking back now, so much I wish I had noted was simply never written down. It was forever a search for a picture, and you never knew, sometimes for weeks, whether you had that picture or not.
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My film had to make it all the way to New York before it could be processed and edited. One morning near the end of the unsuccessful Laos invasion of early an attempt to cut the Ho Chi Minh trail , I wandered into a group of young soldiers who were tasked with fixing tanks and track vehicles which were regularly being rocketed by North Vietnamese troops just down the road. This soldier and I exchanged pleasantries the way you would in the dusty heat. He went back to work after reading a letter from home, and I moved on to another unit. Catherine Leroy. Catherine Leroy—Dotation Catherine Leroy.
There is something both surreal and strikingly sad in this photograph by Catherine Leroy. An empty helmet — is its owner still alive? The other is a war correspondent. Both suffer greatly throughout the novel. Covering World War I, World War II, and the Vietnam War, this book does an exceptional job illuminating the psychological aspects of wartime on those who do the killing.
Despite how one may feel about the war, the universal themes Bourke exposes re: the attempts of soldiers to cope with combat, are themes that many can relate to.
Review: Ken Burns’s ‘Vietnam War’ Will Break Your Heart and Win Your Mind
Not a single punch is pulled in this history of the Vietnam War, which is based on first-person interviews and classified documents. American soldiers in Vietnam had many obstacles and Black American soldiers in Vietnam had even more. This is one of the Vietnam war books that covers the basics in great detail, like the fact that black soldiers made up nearly one-quarter of the fatalities in the first few years of the war, and the discrimination they faced in decorations, duty assignments, and promotions.
This is an oral history of what it was like for a black man to serve his country in Vietnam, and his experiences coming home. Authored by journalist Frances FitzGerald, this account of Vietnam, its history, and the effects of its war with the United States was on the bestseller list for more than ten weeks.
Considered the first major book on the Vietnam War written by an American, it highlighted how little the United States knew about the country, its leaders, and its culture before invading. The story of Hayslip, who grew up in Vietnam during the Vietnam War, is intense, intimate, and ultimately human. This is a story of heartbreak and the search for the will to survive and is one of the most recommend Vietnam memoirs. The famous Pentagon Papers included classified documents about U. Edited by a respected Vietnam historian, this edition includes a relatively brief and manageable taste of the most telling documents.
The family emigrates to the U. This inspirational story is equal parts angering and enlightening. Published in , it details the way the U.
- Kim Heikkila tells the story of Minnesota’s Vietnam War nurses.
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He makes a strong case for the idea that bureaucratic considerations were more important to lawmakers than ideological or common-sense considerations. The author spent ten years in Vietnam, starting in when he went there as a freelancer, and stayed through the fall of Saigon in This Vietnam memoir includes exciting tales, close calls, and battle memories.