Top 10 Best Vietnam War Books

What are the best vietnam war books in the market? Yes, they are tons and that often makes people confused. But based on real verified user’s feedback and reviews and best selling list of different marketplaces we have listed here top 10 vietnam war books we listed and compiled reviews from verified purchase owners.

So, if you like to have one vietnam war books hope the following feedback from real users will help you a lot.

Note that we compiled here only five star ratings and reviews.

Best vietnam war books Comparison Table

Best Overall
The Vietnam War: An Intimate History
The Vietnam War: An Intimate History
$42.83
Editor's Choice
The Vietnam War: The Definitive Illustrated History
The Vietnam War: The Definitive Illustrated History
$23.99
Nice Pick
On Full Automatic: Surviving 13 Months in Vietnam
On Full Automatic: Surviving 13 Months in Vietnam
$6.99

Top 10 Best Vietnam War Books

vietnam war books
Here are the top vietnam war books we picked, check their features.

1. The Vietnam War: The Definitive Illustrated History

The Vietnam War: The Definitive Illustrated History

  • DK

Reviews from Real Users

Dan Arnes

This one is a great book in a good series as I was in the Vietnam War, HOWEVER, someone in the proofreading department screwed up BIG TIME!
Page 344, bottom of 4th column above left side of "The Wall", a photo caption states:
"In Memoriam a crowd gathers at the dedication of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in November 1982. The two acre wall is inscribed with the name of every member of the US Armed Forces who served in the War."
Wrong!!!!! It would be a much bigger wall if that were true! These are just the names of all the Service members KILLED in the Vietnam War (or died later from wounds suffered)! This needs to be corrected!
I still gave it 4 stars, because I believe the Reviews are for the Sellers, and I had no problem with the sale and shipping of the book!
Dan Arnes, Vietnam 1970-1972

JOHN R WIGGINS

My father, brother and I all served in Vietnam. Dad served in 1967-1968, my brother in 1968 and I in 1970. Our experiences changed our lives forever both negatively and positively. The book is an excellent read and refreshed my memory of those locations in which we served. I wanted a good and accurate book to pass down to my grandchildren especially now that people are trying to rewrite out history. This is an excellent reference book for them.

Michael Dodd

I thought this large, heavy, thick book was really superb. The multitude of photos really brought back emotional feelings within me. Everything was covered in this thorough history of the war in Vietnam. Nothing was left out. The photos really touched me. Of course, everyone has their opinion about the war ~ I'm just so glad that the Smithsonian put this large text together in a most objective and fair view.

2. On Full Automatic: Surviving 13 Months in Vietnam

On Full Automatic: Surviving 13 Months in Vietnam

Reviews from Real Users

Burrell H. Landes Jr.

I was there, in Bravo Company, 1st Battalion 3rd Marines, at the same time as the author, and participated in all of the operations he covered except the one north of A4. Many of the names of Marines and Navy Corpsmen and of the battles and operations he mentioned are very familiar to me. As another grunt, in a sister company often adjacent to C 1/3, I can attest to the validity of what William Taylor recounts in this book. My perspective of Viet Nam and the war there is somewhat different, as I was 28 years old and had been in the U. S. Marine Corps for for almost 12 years at the time. What I think is most important is the author's perspective as an 18/19 year old Marine in combat at the point-of-the spear. More time must pass before one can compare this book from an infantryman's point-of-view with Stephen Crane's "The Red Badge of Courage" or Eugene Sledge's "With The Old Breed: At Peleliu and Okinawa". But I believe it is as good an account as you can find of what the war in Viet Nam was like for the young Marines who fought it day by day for as long as they could stay in the line. And the bonus is that the author was part of a Special Landing Force, so the terrain, the enemy, the weaponry, the tactics and the elements were very different on each operation. One can never truly understand what it was like without physically being there. But this book will take you as close as you are likely to want to be. And perhaps at the end of it you will have some understanding of what that war was really like for the Marines that fought it.

Anita D.

In a humble and matter-of-fact style, author Bill Taylor invites readers to join him on his journey as a young Marine who fought in and survived numerous missions during the Vietnam war. Not only does he detail some of the horrific experiences in which he lost friends in battle, but he also shares his perspective of learning about human nature and the range of emotions he underwent during the 13 months of his service. From sincere compassion, to naive hopefulness and the realization that even children were not to be trusted; moving from fear to courage, or making split-second decisions that made the difference between life and death, readers can imagine how they might have reacted under similar circumstances.

One of the things that struck me most about this story was the author's amazing survival despite impossible, overwhelming odds. Out of many missions, some of them doomed from the beginning due to inexperienced leadership or other factors, young Bill Taylor came up as one in only a handful of those who lived to return back to base for yet another assignment. I can only speculate that God had His hand of protection over that Marine, perhaps so this incredible story could be written and published all these years later. In our country's current distress, we need to remember our freedom is never free, and our veterans (past, present, and future) deserve our fullest support and respect. It's not an entitlement - they have earned it through all they have done and continue to do as America's true heroes.

On Full Automatic is a must-read for anyone who appreciates a well-written story that compels the reader to hurry up and turn the page to see what happens next. It's not just a book of history about Vietnam; it is a personal story, written from the heart, that will encourage one to think about and connect with the bittersweet tragedies and triumphs of that time in America's history.

My sincere gratitude, Bill Taylor, to you and all of my American heroes - you were and still are semper fidelis ... always faithful. May God bless you all.

Randall L. Stegenga

What a great book! A fantastic read! As you read this book it is written so you actually feel you were present and see what is happening right in front of you. It’s hard to put the book down, you just want to keep on reading and reading! When reading this book, you really get to know Bill Taylor and the other Marines he served with that he writes about and you feel the pain when they are wounded or gave the ultimate sacrifice in the field. Tears can’t help coming to your eyes at times. At first Bill writes from the perspective of a young Marine, who although has compassion for his fellow man throughout the book, by the end of his tour of duty he has become an “old salt” who has aged, gained wisdom and matured beyond his years. I wish all Americans, especially those who take our freedoms for granted, would read this book, and learn that our freedoms don’t come free. All who served in wars for our country, including Viet Nam, gave some and some gave all. In Viet Nam, over 58,000 of America’s best were lost, but how many more sustained injuries which left them with physical limitations and terrible scars. Also, we can never those who carry the vivid memories of the horrors they witnessed with them day after day. The United States Marine Corps, Army, Navy, Air Force and the Coast Guard have my undying respect and gratitude as they have protected me, my family and friends and faced danger with unrelenting bravery. Thankyou William Taylor, Jr. for your service and for writing this book. You have my undying respect and gratitude.

3. The Vietnam War

The Vietnam War

Reviews from Real Users

M Tucker

With this book Geoffrey Ward and Ken Burns have presented a very balanced account of America’s Vietnam War, but it is much more than that. The story begins with the French colonization of Vietnam in the 1850s and ends with the fall of Saigon in April of 1975. It actually ends with an examination of how the war is remembered in both the US and in Vietnam. Very well written, liberally adorned with stunning photographs, this large volume is both a deep sweeping coverage of the First and Second Indochina Wars and a beautifully produced piece of art. And, once the First Indochina War concludes, the story incorporates the personal stories of some of those directly involved. We hear from Americans and Vietnamese, civilians and soldiers, supporters and detractors, those from the winning side and those from the losing side. It really is the product of years of research and interviews, stunning to contemplate and a joy to read.

In some respects the book gives a better account of the developing history than the film it is a “companion” to. The reader will get a much better understanding of the changing Vietnamese government as the French desperately attempted to establish some sort of legitimacy within Vietnam and the transition of that government into the Republic of Vietnam under Diem.

I think this book will become a standard text on the history of the Vietnam War but I do have a criticism. My quibble is with a relatively small portion of the text and it really has nothing to do with the story. That is my quibble…

“Kennedy and What Might Have Been.” Why is this chapter included in this book? I find it interesting that after reviewing the diverse panoply of historiography Burns and Ward could not stay away from one of the counterfactual, what-if, perspectives that seems to be a real favorite among some historians: Kennedy would not have gone full and outright war on Vietnam. He was too smart, he was too good a guy, Camelot and all that. Well Kennedy might have inherited the war from Truman and Eisenhower but he is the one who began to Americanize the war. He is the one who sent something like seventeen thousand American military personal to operate as advisors to the RVNAF. He sent helicopter companies with the necessary pilots and crews. Americans were now directly involved in combat operations. Americans were dying in Vietnam and Kennedy kept all that secret from the American public. That is a big commitment to walk away from. American prestige was on the line and Kennedy had made several eloquent speeches proclaiming that America would “pay any price” to defend against communist aggression. After Truman, many Americans automatically believed that Democrats were reflexively soft on communism; it was in their political DNA. For Kennedy to walk away from Vietnam after ramping up the military commitment and eliminating Diem would have raised a big political ruckus. He would have had some explaining to do. History would also have viewed him harshly after supporting the coup and murder of Diem and his brother only to walk away from the mess that policy created. Diem’s blood is on Kennedy’s hands. I do happen to think Kennedy to have been a good president: the Peace Corps, commitment to land a man on the moon and bring him home alive; but please stop with the Kennedy was too pure, good and foresighted enough to involve America in a shooting war in Asia. This chapter is nothing more than fantasy. It is not history, it is fable. And, my only criticism of Mr Burns work: this is an example of ax-grinding, not the impartial umpire calling balls and strikes (two metaphors Burns frequently used during the speaking tour, in the run-up to release of the film, to characterize his approach). Truman, made a tremendous mistake by supporting French colonialism. Eisenhower supported that same mistake then went all-in with Diem. Johnson sent in the ground troops and ramped up the death and destruction. But we should give ol’ Kennedy a pass because he would have…We don’t know what he would have done! We know what he did and it was an exponential increase over what his predecessors had allowed. He gets no pass from me.

Since this is really not part of the story it can be ignored and does not change my rating of this monumental work.
The Vietnam War was a tragic mistake of enormous proportions. The death and destruction wrought, ending in failure, allows very little redeeming consequence. We did learn some important lessons but those lessons are easily forgotten. Ken Burns and his partner Lynn Novick would like to start a new conversation about the war. I think that can only be a good thing. I really hope it happens, even if on a small scale. We need to review the lessons to be learned from that awful war.

I am glad of one thing. We seem to have thoroughly learned to not blame our valiant warriors for the blunders of our leaders.

Mary

i watched the show, saw all that was in the book, very well covered, except no army at all just marines were covered, but still lots and lots of information that happened we just over looked as it was a daily thing, lots of pictures i remember seeing in the newspaper and on the news but overlooked because it was a daily occurance and to young (and yet older then some soldiers there ! ) to comprehend, and hanoi jane is there saying to kill our men (american soldiers) as they are murders, as if they werent thereselves, reminds why i hate this woman so bad, we can trade her for mr snowden who opened a lot of channels for us but jane closed a lot of doors for us mm augusta maine

Memere78

Bought for my spouse.....Wonderfully illustrated. He learned more about the reasons he was fighting in Viet Nam and what he didn't know at the time. A good reference book and companion to the series on PBS. It was tough for him returning home but he has overcome many difficulties and is proud to be a Veteran of our country. He will be speaking on November 11, 2017 in our small town.

4. Sog: The Secret Wars of America’s Commandos in Vietnam

Sog: The Secret Wars of America

Reviews from Real Users

Border Corsair

I’ve always enjoyed Plaster’s work, but this is his best yet. I’ve read a lot about SOG simply because the stories of what they did are so mind boggling. There are many good accounts of their missions by various authors, many of whom were participants like Plaster, but Plaster is the go-to guy for well documented histories of SOG. This edition tops them all and contains a bunch of excellent information I’ve never seen elsewhere. It’s hard to write an exhaustive history without being boring, but Plaster pulls it off in grand style. It pretty much covers SOG from start to finish, yet reads like an action novel instead of a history.

I’m sure all wars have their extraordinary heroes, but for my money the heroes of SOG in all their forms and missions are the most insanely courageous bunch of warriors the US fielded in Vietnam. Hats off to Major Plaster for first having the courage and skill and luck to run recon across the fences for two years and survive, and second for writing what I think is absolutely the best book ever on the subject.

Recon Marine

I was a team leader with 1st Force Reconnaissance Company, USMC in Vietnam (1968-69). Our long-range reconnaissance missions and operational methods were very akin to what SOG was then doing, although our patrols were conducted in areas that were within the geographic borders of South Vietnam. This book profiles the incredible courage, tenacity and effectiveness of the warriors within one of the top fighting units in American military history. Force Recon Marines of my era have admiration and respect for the men of SOG, to include their Montagnard brothers.

DC Dave

The biggest impression that this extraordinarily vivid and well-written book made on me--and, I should think would make on anyone--was how incredibly brave these secret warriors had to have been. They had to have known that on almost every mission deep inside the lines of the enemy that the odds were stacked against them. They had to live on their wits and weaponry and on the wits of the organization above them, and on the stunning amount of firepower that they were able to bring in from the air, when conditions were right. The post-action statistics have reflected those odds, with many units suffering more than a 100% casualty rate, possible because a number of the SOG men were wounded multiple times. And yet, “'It was the best assignment I had,' said Blackbird crewman Don James, a sentiment almost universal among SOG veterans."

How could that possibly be, when the chances of getting killed or horribly wounded were so high and the hardships endured were so extreme? One of the reasons I can say from my own Army experience as a lieutenant, 1966-68, was that there were so many really bad assignments. One can get a bit of the flavor by searching out my article, "A Condensation of Military Incompetence" (using any search engine but Google). And in that article, my worst commander of all, a landlocked Captain Arnheiter, I would call him, makes no appearance. On my first day under him in Korea I was brought into a staff meeting over which he presided. My immediate reaction to the meeting was to go into his deputy's office and ask him what I had to do to volunteer for Vietnam so I could escape the madhouse. Fortunately, the deputy talked me out of it.

in spite of the extreme dangers, it had to be very refreshing to be working in the presence of such competence. Here's another quote from the book: “'They were the greatest troops our army ever had,' said Colonel Roger Pezzelle, 'and I’d put ’em up against anybody’s.' His opinion is shared by SOG’s former adversaries, the North Vietnamese. Nguyen Tuong Lai, an NVA officer who’d served on the Ho Chi Minh Trail, said SOG’s Green Berets 'effectively attacked and weakened our forces and hurt our morale because we could not stop these attacks.'"

My great admiration for these fellow soldiers is mixed, though, with a great feeling of sadness over the pointlessness of the larger effort in which they participated. There is virtually no doubt in my mind that had President Kennedy not been assassinated, we would have never have turned the war into America's war as LBJ did, which was a war that could not possibly be won. We learn from a recent review article on the Unz web site by Laurent Guyenot of David Nasaw's book, "The Patriarch: The Life and Turbulent Times of Joseph P. Kennedy," that JFK was much more strongly pacifistic than is generally known, based largely upon his own WW II experience. JFK was also a lot more anti-Communist than almost any Democrat these days, but, with respect to the situation in Vietnam, he was also much more realistic than LBJ, and very knowledgeable. I have special knowledge with regard to that latter assertion. It comes from a top specialist on France for the OSS and later CIA agent who told me that when JFK was a Senator, he regularly sought this man out to pick his brain concerning matters related to France and foreign policy. You can read about it by searching "Scott Runkle CIA Plots Puerto Rico Statehood," and, in this instance, even Google works. JFK would not have repeated the errors of the French as LBJ did; he appreciated the strong anti-colonial sentiment that lay behind the enemy effort, as LBJ did not.

As a final note, the book has given me a much greater appreciation for what my late uncle, who was only a few years older than me, more like a big brother, experienced and the importance of the contribution he made. When I arrived in Korea he was just finishing his tour for the Air Force as a FAC, flying an O-1 Birddog. He survived it, but he came out of the experience embittered, I gathered. We had argued over the wisdom of the war for years, with him for and me against, and he was a lifelong Republican. His last political act before he died of cancer, though, was to vote against the re-election of George W. Bush because of Bush's taking us to war in the Middle East.

5. Vietnam: An Epic Tragedy, 1945-1975

Vietnam: An Epic Tragedy, 1945-1975

Reviews from Real Users

John Harrison

If you want to read only one history of the Vietnam War, choose this book, “Vietnam, an Epic Tragedy, 1945-1975”, by Max Hastings. Does that mean I agree with all of the author’s conclusions—no. It means that Max Hastings has succeeded better than any other author I have read in capturing, and then presenting in an understandable way what actually happened in that long bloody conflict.

Hastings faces head on the lingering questions about the war, gives the reader the facts as he found them and then his conclusions based on those facts. He finds few generals worthy of the name on either side. On the other hand he also recites in detail the actions of these generals that led to those conclusions. You can chose a differing opinion if you want.

The Vietnam War for Hastings was a 30 year tragedy, interspersed with courage, stupidity alternating with brilliance, and some humor as well. Thirty years is a lot to cover even in 752 pages. The beauty of the book is that Hastings succeeds in telling the larger story of the war along with many of the smaller ones as well. Like Cornelius Ryan, in his books, “The Longest Day” and a “Bridge Too Far”, Hastings is a former newspaper reporter, actually a war reporter that reported on the Vietnam War. What that means for the reader is mostly short well thought out sentences that tell an understandable story about a complex subject.
The fact that the war itself changed every year and that a soldier’s experience depended a great deal on the unit he was with and the Area of Operations that the unit was responsible for is well told, well explained. Even more important Hastings finally gets the battles of Tet ’68 right. It was a massive victory completely misreported at home.


You can read my book, “Steel Rain, the Tet Offensive 1968” to find out what being an elite paratrooper was like in the late 1960's, when the country had a draft and well over five hundred thousand Americans were serving one year tours in Vietnam, or Frank Boccia’s book “Crouching Beast” to learn what happened at the battle of Hamburger Hill, but if you want to know what happened during the entire Vietnam War including more than a bit about the French debacle and lead in to America’s involvement, then read “Vietnam, an Epic Tragedy, 1945-1975”, by Max Hastings.


I should disclose that I was one of those interviewed by the author and I am quoted a couple of times in the book but that was the only time I ever met him.

Vu

Max Hastings delivers a great overview of the Vietnam War, and much better than Ken Burns did in his documentary and its companion book in my opinion. I enjoyed the Burns book, but I felt like many South Vietnamese felt that it was a lacking in detailing the atrocities of the Communists. I'll admit my biases now however. My own Grandfather was an ARVN grunt who got put in a gulag for years after the war. Ken Burns deserves credit for bringing the Vietnam War back to the forefront, but more details of the beasts that the US and South Vietnam were fighting would have given a more nuanced look to the viewership.

The Communists buried people alive who resisted them to save bullets. They hacked people to death. Summary executions of "enemies of the revolution" were done in order to create a Stalinist society. Westerners sometimes of a romantic view of the Davidian "freedom fighters" throwing off the Goliaths of the west, and label Ho Chi Minh as a Nationalist rather than a Communist. But the North Vietnamese policies were Stalinist policies, and no one but the most ardent Communists today would call Stalin anything other than a ruthless butcher. Hastings did well in discussing Ho's commitment to the Comintern even before WWII, and his purges of the Vietnamese peoples of the various nationalist groups who also fought the French. There were dozens of Nationalists striving for an independent Vietnam. The Viet Minh butchered them all. Americans who remember Afghanistan in the 80s will remember that we did not aid the Taliban, but rather a fractured network of Mudjahideen fighting against Soviet troops. However, the Taliban won the scramble for power in the post-war period and destroyed all other opposition groups. The Viet Minh had done the same thing 30 years earlier.

I believe Hastings put it best when he said something along the lines of "Those who feel like America was wrong had a tendency to take the extra step, and assume that their enemies were right" and that South Vietnam and North Vietnam embarked a bloody conflict that neither "deserved" to win.

Hastings frames it as a tragedy, so the language and prose he uses stir the heart and the stories he collected are truly heartbreaking. As a journalist, he knows how to write in a manner that a more perhaps "dry" history does not fully capture. Since he is a Brit, I felt that Hastings approached this story with less bias that Vietnamese or American historians tend to. American historians understandably tend to frame it as an American history. Hastings takes a more Vietnamese-centric angle with this work. We also see perspectives from the British officials throughout the work. I simply could not put this book down, because it is so well written.

Overall, I greatly enjoyed this book, and recommend it to anyone who liked Ken Burns' documentary and would like to flesh out their understanding of the conflict.

old boats

Over the years, without any particular goals other than learning, I've read a number of books that either directly or tangential dealt with that war. This included, "Best and Brightest" , "Dereliction of Duty" , "We Were Soldiers Once, and Young", "The Quiet American", "The Ugly American" "Foreign Correspondent, a Memoir", LBJ and McNamara Bios, "The Pentagon Papers" (segments) and others somewhat less memorable at the moment. Based on this reading and subsequent events I concluded some time ago that the US was embarking on a fools errand when it tried to use its military to shore up a foreign government that was not supported internally by its people. The Iraq and Afghanistan experience in recent years has solidified my opinion on this topic.

So It was with a receptive attitude that I recently read this new history; by Sir Max Hastings, an award winning British journalist and historian. This is a long and deeply researched history told mostly in chronological fashion. It draws on many of the published personal history ("I was there") accounts and the more inciteful political/military critiques. He also accessed and quoted myriad personal letters from all sides (including many letters from North Vietnamese combatants and non-combatants that he had had translated by an old CIA hand from the Saigon station that served to illustrate his larger points. Consequently the book presents an exceptionally rich tapestry of many facets of the war, from the cockpits of burning US bombers, through the travails of Vietnamese teenagers humping artillery shells down the Ho Chi Minh trail, to the private conversations of LBJ, McNamara, Nixon, and Kissinger. A very rich and largely seamless tapestry indeed.

My main take-aways that filled in many blanks and otherwise colored my understanding:

1. As noted above, the signal US failure in Vietnam was the implicit assumption that the people of South Vietnam would support their newly constituted government and help fight for freedom and democracy. The facts turned out to be that the largely Buddhist peasant population never became enthused about the French Catholic elites that were set up to rule them, thereby providing fertile ground for the Viet Cong and its revolutionary zealotry in the countryside throughout the war. This lack of support to the Saigon government, that had been created only after partition, extended to the South Vietnam's conscripted and poorly paid and treated armed forces, who with, few exceptions, were unreliable and a major drag on US military activities. "Nixon"s "Vietnamization" was never a reasonable expectation for defeating the North. Indeed, Hasting's makes it clear that the concept was really a Kissingerian fig leaf for US withdrawal.

The South's army officers generally treated their troops badly (feudal) and were often the first to seek a spot on evacuation helos. In some contrast, the South Vietnamese aviators were much more reliable and effective. The South's Army seems to have really become effective on its own only in 1972 and later as the US was withdrawing, when it stopped the North's southward advance for many months, but that was its last major gasp.

2. The book reinforces the point that an overwhelming consideration in all US decision making during this long period was US presidential politics; at the cost of tens of thousands of US and other lives. Trump is not the first president to equate the Nation's interest with his personal interests.

3. The conventional wisdom in the US seems to be that Ho Chi Minh was the architect of the North's success. In fact he became unhealthy and was kicked upstairs circa 1967. The subsequent Northern efforts were led by Le Duan. Le Duan was a true zealot for forcing Vietnamese independence and integration/solidarity, however long it took. He was a hard core believer in, but not subservient to, the oppressive philosophy of Mao's China. He ruthlessly purged all vestiges of frenchiness and intellectual learning from the ranks of the Northern Army, and, as the main source of support for the VC, forced the same ideology and purge mentality on them. He also ensured that there were essentially no outside observers in the North that could document the extent of his cruel purges and his indifference to horrendous military casualties, so the West never really had a clue. But he also kept his own children safe in schools in Europe.

4. Per the foregoing, the North was strongly ideologically driven towards independence in a way that the South never was. This went a long way to explain the superhuman endurance of northern cadres on the Trail.

5. The effectiveness of the truly massive US bombing was disappointing, particularly in the early years of the war, which were dominated by guerrillas operating under triple canopy jungle. In 1972 however, when the North mounted a large scale conventional attack through more open country in the Central Highlands, the 150,000 tons of bombs dropped during Operation Linebacker I was very effective in decimating the North's artillery and tracked vehicles, thereby seriously slowing the advance to Saigon.

6. Because the South's people - mostly rural peasants - were not strongly committed to the Saigon government, but just wanted to be left alone to tend their rice paddys, the massive and destructive US bombing/WW II-type campaigns and forced re-locations from ancestral lands quickly soured indigenous attitudes toward the US' war efforts.

7. As depicted in many movies, the helos were crucial to US troop movement and rescues throughout the war. The US helo loss rate was as high as 1000/year.

I was surprised at the ability of the North, helped by China and the Soviets, to largely keep up with US advances in aircraft self protection electronic warfare gear. Their SAMs and MIGs really were more effective against US aircraft than I knew.

8. The deterioration of morale in the US military in the later stages of the war - after TET in 68, but even more when Nixon began the long slow withdrawal of US forces while Kissinger was negotiating with a losing hand in Paris, was worse than I knew. Much of it reflected the growing domestic US disenchantment with the war which trickled down to the draftees, but also reflected growing racial disharmony in the US, some of which was fanned by the perception that US black soldiers were dying at a disproportionately high rate. Incidents of US brutality against civilians increased. Calley wan't alone.

The author quotes some authority as asserting something like "the US went to war in Korea with a lousy army and came out of Korea with a superb army; but that we went to war in Vietnam with a superb army, but came out with a lousy army". It took 15 years of turmoil after '75 for the US to rebuild an effective, integrated army. Fragging was highly demoralizing of the officer corps.

Kissinger and Nixon both knew the losing score but continued scheming for a "decent interval" between US withdrawal and a takeover of the the South by the North. Nixon's tapes were telling.

Nixon's punitive "Christmas Bombing" in 72 was billed as a reaction to the North's breakouts from the enclaves that had been agreed to in the Paris Accords, but in fact no one in the White House expected the enclaves to persist. The deadly Christmas Bombing was reportedly really mostly Nixon striking out irrationally to try to deflect attention from his cascading Watergate problems. Buried in the spasm of renewed killing via carpet bombing the Hanoi area was the highly successful aerial mining of Haiphong harbor, which completely dried up Soviet shipment of war material until the end of the war in 75. Some believe that such mining much earlier could have been highly effective in reducing the North's fighting abilities, but LBJ and McNamara were leery of damaging the Hanoi area for fear of bringing in the Chinese, much as MacArthur's overreach in Korea two decades earlier had done.

The Paris Accords assured the South that the US would come back to their aid if the North broke the rules. But, as expected, the North did breakout from its enclaves, and the South geared up to fight better but needed supplies from the US that the Congress was increasing loath to provide. Hasting's sees the Congressional failure to support the South with material as promised to be very shameful but consistent with the cascading US public disenchantment with the war.

9. The conventional US view is that TET in 68 was a communist victory that led to the end of the war. In fact TET was a major defeat to the southern Viet Cong, which resulted in the North taking over the fighting in the south, going from 25/75 NVA/VC in '67 to the reverse in '69 and later

10. Despite the rapprochement symbolized in recent years by US celebrity visits to Vietnam, it remains a Stalinist dictatorship unblemished by fair elections and human rights.

11. This is by far the most insightful and fair history of the defining war of my professional life that I expect to ever read. If you read only one book on the history of the US in Vietnam, make it this one.

6. My War in the Jungle: The Long-Delayed Memoir of a Marine Lieutenant in Vietnam 1968–69

My War in the Jungle: The Long-Delayed Memoir of a Marine Lieutenant in Vietnam 1968–69

Reviews from Real Users

G. M. Davis

Disclosure: Reviewing my own book. Never done this before, so for what it's worth I think it's pretty good.

Al

Three really good things about this book:
1) the writing that explained the final action, describing the platoon’s ambush; done without maps. Compared with descriptions of military actions that use directional and distance descriptions, this was much easier to read. I also liked the narrative of the role of a Marine Platoon Commander. Both very well done!
2) the remarkable description in the final chapters of PTSD, treatment and professional life. It was tough to read, but was courageous to write.
3) the relationship with your dad, given his position in the Marine Corps..

I have not read many memoirs, but would be surprised if they measure up to this one - especially given the confluence of all these factors. This book has multiple dimensions. It was a great read!

John J. Gruehl

I, too, served in I Corps with the 3d Marine Division, albeit after Lt Davis had rotated and not as an 0302 but as a 3502 running convoys day in and day out. Seeing the names of places and roads like Vandegrift Combat Base (VCB), Route 9, Dong Ha, Quang Tri, LZ Stud and his experience at LAX (mine was much the same) in print brought back memories I'd forgotten. I returned to Vietnam in 2016 and saw much the same things that the author described. There is no doubt about it: Davis hit a grand slam! If you served as a junior officer in Vietnam, you know he nailed it it too many ways to count! Especially about majors that weren't in your chain of command. Thank you for laying it all out in living color! Semper Fidelis, JJG

7. Across The Fence

Across The Fence

Reviews from Real Users

John Thompson

I served in Vietnam with the author (John Stryker Meyer) as a helicopter door gunner with the 20th SOS Green Hornets.
I am overwhelmed that I was able to get John to autograph my copy of Across The Fence.

eric

I read this book after listening to the interview with John Styker Myer on the Jocko Podcast. This book was hard to put down, the stories of the missions they went on and the dynamics of the teamwork were outstanding. While I was reading it, I had to keep reminding myself at how young they were. I will be buying the next book "On the Ground".

pappysproductions

Being in the military I have a lot of appreciation for guys like Mr Meyer and the men of SOG in Vietnam. Very interesting and does a good job of keeping your attention. One of my favorite books, burned through this one quick. Would highly recommend to anyone interested in the military and its history

8. Legend: The Incredible Story of Green Beret Sergeant Roy Benavidez’s Heroic Mission to Rescue a Special Forces Team Caught Behind Enemy Lines

Legend: The Incredible Story of Green Beret Sergeant Roy Benavidez

  • Broadway Books

Reviews from Real Users

Bababoowee

I’m barely two thirds of the way through the book and I’m speechless. The author does a great job with almost minimalist simplicity in describing Benevides’ formative early years, and especially in describing the brutality of the combat - the latter with almost striking matteroffactness in its lack of the gratuitous inflection and cadence and dramatization usually found in similar non fiction books. Fascinating glossy pictures as well. I found myself choking back tears when Wright was killed; when the CIDG were killed but continuously peppered with automatic fire; when Craig said ‘Oh my God, my parents’ with his last words. And I’m barely scratching the surface of the Daniel Boon TAC-E. A great service was done by this fine author. All the other innumerable lost and shattered American military lives this one story make you aware of.

John

I enjoyed reading 'Legend:...' by Eric Blehm and was especially riveted during battle when Roy Benavidez was involved. Technically, I have to admit that this book is not entirely about Roy and his achievements, and is written in four parts. The first is about Roy's adolescent years and difficulties he encountered while growing up with his uncle and aunt in a small Texas town. There was a strong bond between Roy and his family as well as with his boss when he worked at the Firestone Tire Store. Part 2 tells about Roy's experience in the Army and the training he completed prior to earning his Green Beret and going to Vietnam early in the war for his 1st tour. Part 3 is pretty much dedicated to introducing all the other people that had a role in the actual battle (I was somewhat confused here and had trouble remembering all the other names of pilots and ground personnel). The story continues with the insertion of two SF teams - 9 miles inside of the border of Cambodia. Their mission was to observe the Ho Chi Minh trail and ideally hijack a Russian built truck and some prisoners. However, shortly after their insertion, they are compromised and requested immediate pick-up; usually, the chopper returns to withdraw the team but a major in the overhead C&C denied their request and ordered the team leader to continue with the mission. What they soon discovered is that they were inserted onto the fringes of a Regimental or Division sized headquarters with thousands of NVA soldiers. Under fire, the team splits into two groups and locates two probable locations to the side of the original LZ in which to defend themselves. By the time higher up approve the evacuation, both teams are in dire straits - some team members were already severely wounded or dead. The firing is so intense, choppers are unable to land and sustain severe damage. The O-2 Bird dog FA announced a special code over the radio that signals an emergency with a high probability of units on the ground being overrun. It didn't take long before jets and gunships responded and immediately targeted the never ending supply of NVA regulars. Part 4 then continues with the battle and Roy Benavidez's involvement.

Choppers are crashing and crews dying in the many attempt to reach the beleaguered troops. The action Roy takes is beyond belief and readers will be awed by his calmness and determination to get everybody back to safety. The story continues to describe the rest of the battle and their eventual evacuation from the LZ. Only a few survived. Benavidez was tagged in triage and left with the other dead bodies stacked outside of the hospital because of so much damage to his body. Miraculously, he garnered enough strength and fortitude to spit at the orderly who almost finished zippering him up in a black body bag. When discovering that Roy was alive, they rushed to save his life. He spent over a year convalescing from his injuries, and remained in San Antonio to be close to his family. Afterward, he continued in active service in the Army until his eventual retirement.

Roy deserved the Medal of Honor for his actions that day, however, his involvement in Cambodia was top secret, and instead, the Dept. of the Army awarded him the Distinguished Service Cross - a step below the MOH. SF soldiers were sworn to secrecy and agreed not to expose anything about their missions or locations for thirty years. The penalty for doing so is a dishonorable discharge, large fine and imprisonment.

Ten years later, those who survived the battle wrote reports that detailed Roy's actions during that fateful day in hopes of reversing the decision regarding Roy's MOH, yet the Army refused to upgrade it. Others continued the effort and when an eye witness came forward - one who Roy thought perished and vice-versa, and his testimony tipped the scales. The MOH was awarded for his actions in a battle west of a town in South Vietnam and Cambodia was not inferred.

This is a great read with a lot of detail of the actual events. Roy was quoted in the book, "that day was filled with heroes, all trying very hard to save this team, unfortunately, many of them did not survive the battle." The last third of the book will keep you reading until the end! RIP Roy Benavidez! Thank you Eric Blehm for a great story!

John Podlaski, author
'Cherries - A Vietnam War Novel' and 'When Can I Stop Running?'

.

Chuck Polzin

I enjoyed the book and was impressed that Sargent Benavidez made some important changes in his life which ultimately allowed him to move forward in his career. He was one hell of a warrior and one you could count on when the going got tough. He was completely committed to his fellow soldiers and a great leader. I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to learn more about the war in Vietnam. An important time in our history.

9. The Pentagon Papers: The Secret History of the Vietnam War

The Pentagon Papers: The Secret History of the Vietnam War

Reviews from Real Users

Jeff Marzano

I read this book as part of my ongoing research into the assassination of President Kennedy. In my opinion the conflict in Vietnam is one of the keys to unraveling this greatest of mysteries if it can even still be called a mystery today.

The conspiracy theory is President Kennedy was going to end America's involvement in Vietnam once he was re-elected in 1964. And that was something the Military Industrial Complex was never going to allow to happen.

The great Fletcher Prouty worked with Allen Dulles at the CIA up until the time JFK got killed. Fletcher felt there never was any real military objective in Vietnam. The goal was to create a bottomless money pit of military spending. So the CIA was doing things in Vietnam to prolong the conflict for as long as possible even if this meant getting American military personnel killed.

Author and historian John M. Newman has shown how the CIA and American military intelligence were telling President Kennedy and Secretary Of Defense Robert McNamara all lies about the true state of affairs in Vietnam. But they were telling then Vice President Lyndon Johnson the truth about what a quagmire Vietnam had become and would most likely always be. So Johnson knew what was going to happen in Vietnam even before he became president.

Fletcher Prouty and also James W. Douglass in his book JFK And The Unspeakable tell how the CIA had infiltrated every aspect of the power structures in Washington, DC. The CIA had their spies collecting information from all the government agencies and telling lies to everyone in the government also.

I don't really see a lot in this massive book about the Pentagon Papers to make me doubt those conspiracy theories.

The book says JFK continued America's involvement in Vietnam. But the fact remains that when JFK was alive and in office the number of American military personnel in Vietnam was around 16,000. And according to an official government document called NSAM 263 JFK had ordered that all American personnel should leave Vietnam in the near future.

Then within a few days after JFK got killed Lyndon Johnson issued NSAM 273 which seems to be a vaguely worded document about the future policy and plans for Vietnam which could be interpreted in many different ways. It's creepy because people say Lyndon started working on the draft for NSAM 273 when President Kennedy was still alive.

This book also confirms that there didn't seem to be any real military objectives in Vietnam. The stated objective was to just keep escalating the destruction against the enemy until they got discouraged.

But as I said if the conspiracy theories are true the CIA knew all along that this would never happen.

Odysseus

I will not add to the plethora of positive reviews here at Amazon. Yes, the book is thick (Over 700 pages), and it certainly does not make casual or "light" reading. However, the "Pentagon Papers" are, without doubt, one of the greatest journalistic triumphs of the 20th century. The reader is given a detailed, incredibly intimate summary of how policy makers in Washington decided to get the US involved in Vietnam, tracing the story from the mid-1950s through the Tet Offensive of 1968. In short, the US found itself involved in Vietnam for the following combination of reasons: A severe case of post-WWII "We-are-the-Victors" hubris, a terminal view of the world in "Either-Or / Us-versus-Them" terms, a firm belief in placing military solutions above diplomatic & economic alternatives, a blind faith in "experts" (In this case, Ivy League academics and Generals in the Pentagon), and last (But certainly not least), the mere fact that we, the USA, had the wealth, material means, and financial wherewithal to do so..................

alan j

This is one of the very best books I've read on the politics surrounding the reasoning behind the decisions made about the start of the Vietnam war. There is no doubt in my mind if JFK had lived, this war would never have taken place. JFK's second thoughts about the direction the war was taking, was one of the reasons Lyndon Johnson and certain organizations within and outside of our Gov't had him assassinated. This opinion coming from a Vietnam combat vet myself and a Vietnam war "hawk"at the time. We were all used by the "military industrial complex"-----just like Eisenhower warned the nation about just before he left office.

10. Frontline Brothers

Frontline Brothers

Reviews from Real Users

Weatherbyrd

Rick Barnes writes of the famed 5th Marine Regiment fighting in I Corps. I highly recommend this book as a story that you must know. The author’s story spans two tours in Vietnam, and takes you into areas of Vietnam not reported on in TV documentaries or even media stories. The author writes with a sincerity, honesty and heart as you the reader enter the Que Son Valley where the Marines confront thousands of well trained and equipped enemy soldiers. This is more than just a war story. It is a story about real people, not just names, but young men from all walks of life with their strengths, fears, courage, challenges and dedication to each other in the most brutal combat conditions. Many from Fox Company of the 2nd Battalion of the 5th Marines were casualties of war, especially the author’s 2nd platoon. They fought all the way in Operation Union II, losing so many friends. Barnes also takes you past the battles to coming home to the world, where you learn of both the physical wounds and the haunting memories of the survivors. After finishing this book, I knew that someday I will pick it up and read it again.

Craig

Rick Barnes has written a masterpiece. My father, Sergeant Hank Januchowski, served beside Rick in Vietnam from April 1966 through May 1967. My dad told me on multiple occasions that Rick was the finest Marine he served with, especially in combat. Dad would say that Rick demonstrated ultimate discipline, courage and leadership while under fire and quickly became his trusted best friend.

This book was written from firsthand personal knowledge and experiences Rick had while he served over 15 months in Vietnam. From nightly patrols, ambushes, regular encounters with the enemy to the horrors of June 2, 1967 when 2nd Platoon of Fox Company suffered incomprehensible losses during Operation Union II. Rick tells these true stories with honor and in a way that keeps the reader on the edge of their seats.

Rick is a humble hero and has done a truly amazing job in paying tribute to the brave Marines he served with. Rick also has much to share with veterans from all conflicts on PTSD and the daily struggle to overcome the battles that each combat veteran experiences when finally home.

Fantastic book, I salute you, Sir.

Semper Fi

Craig Januchowski

Connor Polarek

This story displays a band of unlikely brothers brought and bonded together by the horrific scenes of combat by the hands of tactically and geographically advantaged NVA troops in the Vietnam war. Rick Barnes does a phenomenal job re-accounting these events from his own personal recollection and amazingly, that of his comrades in arms as well.

Rick is a very humble man I can say that knowing him most of my life. I personally have always looked at Rick as a very kind, humorous, and very welcoming man, so I can see how he could have gotten so personally attached to these men in his 15 months in Vietnam. Rick depicts a true sense of courage under fire, trust, and protection in this novel and how that feeling of not protecting just your own life, but the life of the very man next to you as well, and it goes without saying that is what kept those heroic marines fighting on that muddy and bloody rice paddy. This Book gives the reader insight on the absolute jaw-dropping terror that Rick and his fellow comrades experienced through that of numerous ambushes, patrols, and even face-to-face combat.
I've thought a lot about the sacrifice of these men and how these almost teenagers near my own age can make the settled decision to lay down their lives, but that answer alluded me. Rick revealed that answer to me it's the love of brotherhood. Terrified were those men, yes, but that didn't distract them from the fact that those aren't just ordinary men those soldiers are killing, those are my brothers, and to see a brother fall well, I can see how that would make you want to fight to the very last bullet with a rage from hell itself. Rick Barnes left Vietnam on that helo with a huge piece of his heart missing he tries and enlighten us of those feeling though this book itself, and I like to think that his brother's acts courage and heroism in their final moments is what filled Ricks heart again to make him the loving and caring man I know today. I highly recommend this book as reading it you get a different view of humanity in warfare, and how a sense of pride these men had for one another could make them willing to commit the ultimate sacrifice and to lay down their own lives for that of their brothers, and if that doesn't pull at your heart strings, then in my opinion your not-human.

Truly and utterly grateful.

"May the Light of freedom, coming to all darkened lands. Flame brightly-until at last the darkness is no more. May the turbulence of our age yield to a true time of peace, when men and nations shall share a life that honors the dignity of each, the brotherhood of all" - Dwight D. Eisenhower

Connor Polarek

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