SELECTED BY MILITARY TIMES AS A BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR * SELECTED BY THE SOCIETY OF MIDLAND AUTHORS’ AS THE BEST NONFICTION BOOK OF THE YEAR The New York Times bestselling author of In Harm’s Way and Horse Soldiers shares the powerful account of an American army platoon fighting for survival during the Vietnam War in “an important book….not just a battle story—it’s also about the home front” (The Today show). On January 31, 1968, as many as 100,000 guerilla fighters and soldiers in the North Vietnamese Army attacked thirty-six cities throughout South Vietnam, hoping to dislodge American forces during one of the vital turning points of the Vietnam War. Alongside other young American soldiers in an Army reconnaissance platoon (Echo Company, 1/501) of the 101st Airborne Division, Stanley Parker, the nineteen-year-old son of a Texan ironworker, was suddenly thrust into savage combat, having been in-country only a few weeks. As Stan and his platoon-mates, many of whom had enlisted in the Army, eager to become paratroopers, moved from hot zone to hot zone, the extreme physical and mental stresses of Echo Company’s day-to-day existence, involving ambushes and attacks, grueling machine-gun battles, and impossibly dangerous rescues of wounded comrades, pushed them all to their limits and forged them into a lifelong brotherhood. The war became their fight for survival. When they came home, some encountered a bitterly divided country that didn’t understand what they had survived. Returning to the small farms, beach towns, and big cities where they grew up, many of the men in the platoon fell silent, knowing that few of their countrymen wanted to hear the stories they lived to tell—until now. Based on interviews, personal letters, and Army after-action reports, The Odyssey of Echo Company recounts the searing tale of wartime service and homecoming of ordinary young American men in an extraordinary time and confirms Doug Stanton’s prominence as an unparalleled storyteller of our age.
A portrait of the American recon platoon of the 101st Airborne Division describes their sixty-day fight for survival during the 1968 Tet Offensive, tracing their postwar difficulties with acclimating into a peacetime America that did not want to hear their story.
This Time We Win
Author: James S Robbins
Publisher: Encounter Books
Most of what Americans have heard about the Tet Offensive is wrong. The brief battles in early 1968 during the Vietnam conflict marked the dividing line between gradual progress toward possible victory and slow descent to a humiliating defeat. That the enemy was handily defeated on the ground was considered immaterial; that it could mount attacks at all was deemed a military triumph for the Communists. This persistent view of Tet is a defeatist story line that continues to inspire America’s foreign enemies and its domestic critics of the use of force abroad. In This Time We Win, James S. Robbins at last provides an antidote to the flawed Tet mythology still shaping the perceptions of American military conflicts against unconventional enemies and haunting our troops in combat. In his re-examination of the Tet Offensive, Robbins analyzes the Tet battles and their impact through the themes of terrorism, war crimes, intelligence failure, troop surges, leadership breakdown, and media bias. The result is an explosion of the conventional wisdom about this infamous surge, one that offers real lessons for today’s unconventional wars. Without a clear understanding of these lessons, we will find ourselves refighting the Tet Offensive again and again.
In Harm's Way
Author: Doug Stanton
Publisher: Henry Holt and Company
A harrowing, adrenaline-charged account of America's worst naval disaster -- and of the heroism of the men who, against all odds, survived. On July 30, 1945, the USS Indianapolis was torpedoed in the South Pacific by a Japanese submarine. An estimated 300 men were killed upon impact; close to 900 sailors were cast into the Pacific Ocean, where they remained undetected by the navy for nearly four days and nights. Battered by a savage sea, they struggled to stay alive, fighting off sharks, hypothermia, and dementia. By the time rescue arrived, all but 317 men had died. The captain's subsequent court-martial left many questions unanswered: How did the navy fail to realize the Indianapolis was missing? Why was the cruiser traveling unescorted in enemy waters? And perhaps most amazing of all, how did these 317 men manage to survive? Interweaving the stories of three survivors -- the captain, the ship's doctor, and a young marine -- journalist Doug Stanton has brought this astonishing human drama to life in a narrative that is at once immediate and timeless. The definitive account of a little-known chapter in World War II history, In Harm's Way is destined to become a classic tale of war, survival, and extraordinary courage.
Fire in the Streets
Author: Eric Hammel
Publisher: Pacifica Military History
FIRE IN THE STREETS The Battle for Hue, Tet 1968 Eric Hammel The Tet Offensive of January 1968 was the most important military campaign of the Vietnam War. The ancient capital city of Hue, once considered the jewel of Indochina’s cities, was a key objective of that surprise Communist offensive launched on Vietnam’s most important holiday. But when the North Vietnamese launched their massive invasion of the city, instead of the general civilian uprising and easy victory they had hoped for, they were faced with a U.S.[en]South Vietnamese counterattack and a devastating battle of attrition with enormous casualties on both sides. In the end, the battle for Hue was an unambiguous military and political victory for South Vietnam and the United States. In Fire in the Streets, the dramatic narrative of the battle unfolds on an hour-by-hour, day-by-day basis. The focus is on the U.S. and South Vietnamese soldiers and Marines--from the top commanders down to the frontline infantrymen–and on the men and women who supported them. Eric Hammel, a renowned military historian, expertly draws on first-hand accounts from the battle participants in this engrossing mixture of action and commentary. In addition, Hammel examines the tremendous strain the surprise attack put on the South Vietnamese[en]U.S. alliance, the shocking brutality of the Communist “liberators,” and the lessons gained by U.S. Marines forced to wage battle in a city–a task for which they were utterly unprepared and which has a special relevance today. With access to rare documents from both North and South Vietnam and hundreds of hours of interviews, Hammel, in a highly readable style, has produced the only complete and authoritative account of this crucial landmark battle.
The Boys of ?67
Author: Andrew Wiest
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing
In the spring of 1966, while the war in Vietnam was still popular, the US military decided to reactivate the 9th Infantry Division as part of the military build-up. Across the nation, farm boys from the Midwest, surfers from California and city-slickers from Cleveland opened their mail to find greetings from Uncle Sam. Most American soldiers of the Vietnam era trickled into the war zone as individual replacements for men who had become casualties or had rotated home. Charlie Company was different as part of the only division raised, drafted and trained for service. From draft to the battlefields of South Vietnam, this is the unvarnished truth from the fear of death to the chaos of battle, told almost entirely through the recollections of the men themselves. This is their story, the story of young draftees who had done everything that their nation had asked of them and had received so little in return ? lost faces of a distant war.
Blood in the Hills
Author: Charles W. Sasser, Robert Maras
Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield
A soldier’s eye view of Vietnam’s fiercest close-quarters battle upon its 50th anniversary Khe Sanh’s Hill Fights of 1967—as experienced by co-author Bobby Maras and told in this hour-by-hour, day-by-day account—were carnage on the ground, much of it hand-to-hand fighting in the dark. Thanks to the brave Marines of the 9th and 3rd, Khe Sanh survived the first concentrated attack by the North Vietnamese to invade the South. After the Hill Fights, American forces pulled back and held out against constant enemy shelling and frequent attacks until the siege was broken. Combining Maras’ personal experiences with the war’s bigger picture, Blood in the Hills honors the heroic actions of our soldiers and shows how Khe Sanh was microcosm of the entire Vietnam War.
The Last Good Girl
Author: Allison Leotta
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
From Allison Leotta, the “highly entertaining storyteller” (George Pelecanos) who writes “in a style that’s as real as it gets” (USA TODAY), a ripped-from-the-headlines novel featuring prosecutor Anna Curtis at the center of a national story involving campus rape and the disappearance of a young woman. Emma, a freshman at a Michigan university, has gone missing. She was last seen leaving a bar near the prestigious and secretive fraternity known on campus as “the rape factory.” The main suspect is Dylan Brooks, the son of one of the most powerful politicians in the state. But so far the only clues are pieced-together surveillance footage of Emma leaving the bar that night…and Dylan running down the street after her. When Anna discovers the video diary Emma kept over her first few months at college, it exposes the history she had with Dylan: she had accused him of rape before disappearing. Emma’s disappearance gets media attention and support from Title IX activists across the country, but Anna’s investigation hits a wall. Now Anna is looking for something, anything she can use to find Emma alive. But without a body or any physical evidence, she’s under threat from people who tell her to think hard before she ruins the name of an “innocent young man.” Inspired by real-life stories, The Last Good Girl shines a light on campus rape and the powerful emotional dynamics that affect the families of the men and women on both sides.
Author: Mark Bowden
Publisher: Atlantic Monthly Press
New York Times Bestseller A Los Angeles Times Book Prize Finalist in History Winner of the 2018 Marine Corps Heritage Foundation Greene Award for a distinguished work of nonfiction "An extraordinary feat of journalism . . . full of emotion and color."—Karl Marlantes, Wall Street Journal The first battle book from Mark Bowden since his #1 New York Times bestseller Black Hawk Down, Hue 1968 is the story of the centerpiece of the Tet Offensive and a turning point in the American War in Vietnam. In the early hours of January 31, 1968, the North Vietnamese launched over one hundred attacks across South Vietnam in what would become known as the Tet Offensive. The lynchpin of Tet was the capture of Hue, Vietnam?s intellectual and cultural capital, by 10,000 National Liberation Front troops who descended from hidden camps and surged across the city of 140,000. Within hours the entire city was in their hands save for two small military outposts. American commanders refused to believe the size and scope of the Front?s presence, ordering small companies of marines against thousands of entrenched enemy troops. After several futile and deadly days, Lieutenant Colonel Ernie Cheatham would finally come up with a strategy to retake the city, block by block and building by building, in some of the most intense urban combat since World War II. With unprecedented access to war archives in the U.S. and Vietnam and interviews with participants from both sides, Bowden narrates each stage of this crucial battle through multiple viewpoints. Played out over 24 days and ultimately costing 10,000 lives, the Battle of Hue was by far the bloodiest of the entire war. When it ended, the American debate was never again about winning, only about how to leave. Hue 1968 is a gripping and moving account of this pivotal moment.
"Michael Uhl was one of the most prominent figures in the veteran’s resistance movement that played a crucial role in bringing to the American people the shocking reality of the Vietnam war. This collection of his writings is a pleasure to read, and to contemplate."--Noam Chomsky, Institute Professor Emeritus, MIT "As one of the most eloquent voices of the Vietnam generation, Michael Uhl's essays, journalism, and criticism provide an essential road map to 'the defining predicament' of his generation. Uhl masterfully explains and analyzes the literature, politics, and emotional realities of the Vietnam legacy. This is essential reading for those of us who are still trying to make sense of the Sixties."--Clara Bingham, Witness to the Revolution: Radicals, Resisters, Vets, Hippies, and the Year America Lost its Mind and Found its Soul The singular collection of articles, essays, poems, criticism and personal recollections by a Vietnam veteran documents the author's reflections on the war, from his combat experiences to his exploration of American veteran identity to his struggles with PTSD. His career as an advocate for the welfare of GIs and veterans exposed to dangerous radiation and herbicides is covered. Several pieces deal with how the Vietnam experience is being archived by scholars for historical interpretation. These collected works serve as a study of how wars are remembered and written about by surviving veterans.
Nine Days in May
Author: Warren K. Wilkins
Publisher: University of Oklahoma Press
Moving through the jungle near the Cambodian border on May 18, 1967, a company of American infantry observed three North Vietnamese Army regulars, AK-47s slung over their shoulders, walking down a well-worn trail in the rugged Central Highlands. Startled by shouts of “Lai day, lai day” (“Come here, come here”), the three men dropped their packs and fled. The company commander, a young lieutenant, sent a platoon down the trail to investigate. Those few men soon found themselves outnumbered, surrounded, and fighting for their lives. Their first desperate moments marked the beginning of a series of bloody battles that lasted more than a week, one that survivors would later call “the nine days in May border battles.” Nine Days in May is the first full account of these bitterly contested battles. Part of Operation Francis Marion, they took place in the Ia Tchar Valley and the remote jungle west of Pleiku. Fought between three American battalions and two North Vietnamese Army regiments, this prolonged, deadly encounter was one of the largest, most savage actions seen by elements of the storied 4th Infantry Division in Vietnam. Drawing on interviews with the participants, Warren K. Wilkins recreates the vicious fighting in gripping detail. This is a story of extraordinary courage and sacrifice displayed in a series of battles that were fought and won within the context of a broader, intractable strategic stalemate. When the guns finally fell silent, an unheralded American brigade received a Presidential Unit Citation and earned three of the twelve Medals of Honor awarded to soldiers of the 4th Infantry Division in Vietnam.
Days of Valor
Author: Robert Tonsetic
A nonstop maelstrom of combat action, leaving the reader nearly breathless by the end. The human courage and carnage described in these pages resonates through the centuries, from Borodino to the Bulge, but the focus here is on the Vietnam War, and a unique unit formed to take part at its height. The 199th Light Infantry Brigade was created from three U.S. infantry battalions of long lineage, as a fast reaction force for the U.S. to place in Indochina. As the book begins, in December 1967, the brigade has been in Vietnam for a year, and many of its battered 12-month men are returning home. This is timely, as the Communists seem to be in a lull, and the brigade commander, in order to whet his new soldiers to combat, requests a transfer to a more active sector, just above Saigon. Through January the battalions scour the sector, finding increasing enemy strength, NVA personel now mixed within Viet Cong units. But the enemy is lying low, and a truce has even been declared for the Vietnamese New Year, the holiday called Tet. On January 30, 1968, the storm breaks loose, as Saigon and nearly every provincial capital in the country is overrun by VC and NVA, bursting in unexpected strength from their base camps. In these battles we learn the most intimate details of combat, as the Communists fight with rockets, mortars, Chinese claymores, mines, machine guns and AK-47s. The battles evolve into an enemy favoring the cloak of night, the jungle—both urban and natural—and subterranean fortifications, against U.S. forces favoring direct confrontational battle supported by air and artillery. When the lines are only 25 yards apart, however, there is little way to distinguish between the firepower or courage of the assailants and the defenders, or even who is who at any given moment, as both sides have the other in direct sight. Many of the vividly described figures in this book do not make it to the end. The narrative is jarring, because even though the author was a company commander during these battles, he has based this work upon objective research including countless interviews with other soldiers of the 199th LIB. The result is that everything we once heard about Vietnam is laid bare in this book through actual experience, as U.S. troops go head-to-head at close-range against their counterparts, perhaps the most stubborn foe in our history. Days of Valor covers the height of the Vietnam War, from the nervous period just before Tet, through the defeat of that offensive, to the highly underwritten yet equally bloody NVA counteroffensive launched in May 1968. The book ends with a brief note about the 199th LIB being deactivated in spring 1970, furling its colors after suffering 753 dead and some 5,000 wounded. The brigade had only been a temporary creation, designed for one purpose. Though its heroism is now a matter of history, it should remain a source of pride for all Americans. This fascinating book will help to remind us.
Battle for Hue
Author: Keith William Nolan
Recounts the month-long battle between U.S. Marines and North Vietnamese forces for control of the historically significant city of Hue
Company of Heroes
Author: Eric Poole
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing
There are many broad studies of the Vietnam War, but this work offers an insight into the harrowing experiences of just a small number of men from a single unit, deep in the jungles of Vietnam and Cambodia. It is the remarkable account of a Medal of Honor recipient whose brave actions were forgotten for over three decades: Leslie Sabo Jr. Sabo and other replacement soldiers in Bravo Company, 3rd Battalion, 506th Infantry (Currahees), 101st Airborne Division, were involved in intense, bloody engagements such as the battle for Hill 474 and the Mother's Day Ambush. Beginning with their deployment at the height of the blistering Tet Offensive, and using military records and interviews with surviving soldiers, Eric Poole recreates the terror of combat amidst the jungles and rice paddies of Vietnam. He tells the remarkable story of how Sabo earned his medal, as Bravo Company forged bonds of brotherhood in their daily battle for survival.