If we contrast the rapid progress of this mischievous discovery of gunpowder with the slow and laborious advances of reason, science, and the arts of peace, a philosopher, according to his temper, will laugh or weep at the folly of mankind. - Edward Gibbon
Last edited by Shek; 21 Mar 07, at 01:58.
"So little pains do the vulgar take in the investigation of truth, accepting readily the first story that comes to hand." Thucydides 1.20.3
So ...... what did you think of A Bright Shining Lie?
("So.....have you seen this dance?"--female record executive to young male record executive, (wtte), prelude to "Cold Hearted Snake" video)
I am doing the PhD part time. With time off it will have taken me over 7 years by the time I finish. People get less for murder! Fortunately I was already borderline insane already, so it hasn't much effected my mental state
'Chickenhawk' is a great book. Read it when I was about 16 & loved it. What came out of it to a youg chap like myself who had only ever seen war in movies is just how messy & chaotic combat can be, and just how much can depend on good fortune & a few acts of courage. I had never realised just how dangerous flying choppers was. The author came across really sympathetically, which made the end a real kick in the guts. A classic first person account of the war.
If you would like another interesting perspective, there are now some excellent accounts of the war from the North Vietnamese perspective. Bao Ninh's work has already been listed here. To it I would add 'Novel Without a Name' by Duong Thu Huong'. Despite being a popular writer in Vietnam, she was forced to flee after writing this in the 90s. A Vietnamese friend of mine read it & couldn't work out why, but who can read the minds of dictators? Neither book reads as well as some western accounts - translation & differing writing styles accross very different cultures mitigate against it. However, neither is a difficult read, and they are invaluable in humanizing a conflict too often reduced to myth, cliche & partisan argument.
'Bright Shining Lie' is also a great account of certain aspects of the war. It is very successful in pointing out some of the serious flaws in US strategy & tactics. There have, however, been some legitimate criticisms that Sheehan is too inclined to accept the judgements of Vann a bit too uncritically. Still, a broad account of Vietnam without flaws is yet to be written (nor will it ever be). Read in conjunction with some of the books Shek has listed it is a fine addition to one's understandig of the war.
About Face...by Col Hackworth
Phantom Soldiers...John Poole
I second a Street Without Joy
The movie wasn't bad but the book, IMHO, was/is a must read for those interested in the transition to a major mid-intensity conflict.
I subscribe to the notion that the war in the central highlands north to the DMZ was a very different conflict from the classic "counter-insurgency" thesis of winning "hearts and minds". It was war, nothing less, carrying few parallels to the insurgency along the coastal rice-belt or further south.
As such, WE WERE SOLDIERS... captures clearly the disorienting transition to war for U.S. forces in those heady days of early 1965. Living in Germany then, many of my dad's peers were on short-notice to deploy. What a nightmare. Move from Germany to the states, settle your family, and off to war.
Upon arrival, the 1st Cav's story is both typical and atypical. Base camp construction, in-processing of troops, bivouac development, and into the boonies to hunt "charlie". Except that it wasn't "victor charlie" one bit. Instead "Nguyen of the North" had made his appearance, at least in the central highlands.
Ia Drang was, flat-out, a major conventional battle between elite forces of two nations-both itching for a fight, and finding it. Many myths from both sides disproved here, most notably the notion of "hugging" the Americans. Tied-in properly (though only in the most expedient manner) American troops devastated the NVA in close-quarter combat of the HIGHEST intensity.
Numerous lessons learned and, too, mis-learned.
Also, "The 1st Cav in Vietnam-Anatomy of a Division, by Shelby Stanton chronicles the deployment and operational activities of the 1st Cav Division during its Vietnam tenure. This book is critical to the understanding of the development of air assault concepts/operations and their "real world" applications. Too, it serves as a generally excellent unit history, as you might imagine, of a very capable and heavily engaged U.S. division sitting smack-dab in the middle of a mid-intensity conflict against a foe of the first-order while implementing these new operational concepts.
Finally, I'd encourage anybody interested to purview the work of Keith William Nolan. His battle histories are magnificent reads, meticulously researched, and compelling drama to boot.
Brennens War, by Matthew Brennan.
Story of an FO in a Blue Platoon (scout platoon) for a brigade in the Air Cav. Served from 1966 to 1969. Dramatically underscores the value and travails of combat leadership, and the dehumanizing effects of war on young men. Certainly not an anti-war diatribe, but dosen't gold plate heroism either. And this dude was a hero, by any measure.
It is fascinating study, and first-hand account of the disintigration of the U.S. Army from a formidable, well led, aggressive and tactically competant force into a drug addled, casualty shy example of low quality leadership, riven by race problems. Certainly one of the best "combat memoirs" the genre has yet to produce. I don't think it is in print, any longer, but check your libraries, boys and girls. This one's worth it.
This is "merely" a 256 page paperback, but I found it fascinating, as I never really associated armor with Vietnam. However the anecdotes and experiences were priceless.
Amazon.com: Tank Sergeant: Books: Ralph Zumbro
For great accounts of light infantry and ranger type small unit actions read Blackjack 33, Blackjack 34, and Mobile Guerrilla Force by James Donahue.
A very good website to the Ia Drang battles. Seems to be connected to Moore and Galloway.
"This aggression will not stand, man!" Jeff Lebowski
"The only true currency in this bankrupt world is what you share with someone else when you're uncool." Lester Bangs
I'm on Page 50 of HR McMaster's book, Dereliction of Duty. Excellent so far, I highly recommend it to anyone.
Col Boughton's books, Thud Ridge and Going Downtown, taken together (they cover the same time frame and subject matter, but were written 20 years apart) they provide an excellent insight to the operational level USAF thinking.
Vietnam Air Losses: USAF, Navy, and Marine Corps Fixed-Wing Aircraft Losses in SE Asia 1961-1973 , is for me one of the most awesome resources ever produced- a chronological accounting of every US fixed wing loss in SEA.
The War Against Trucks: Aerial Interdiction in Southern Laos, 1968-1972 , is an excellent account of the interdiction effort, and it's free,
there are some other titles available at that site- some are really worthwile-the Tactical Airlift volume is excellent, others are kinda lame,,(Line Backer II, the view from the Rock, blah).
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