We are soldiers Still is a follow up to We were soldiers once .. and Young, a highly regarded account of the first major battles of the Vietnam War to involve American troops, in the Ia Drang valley. Moore and Galloway had wanted to revisit the battlefield when they were writing the first book, but were unable to get official permission until We were soldiers once ... and Young had been read in Vietnam, and met with approval.
This book is the story of their return visit to the battlefields of the Ia Drang, in the company of a group of American and Vietnamese veterans of the battles. This part of the book has two main themes - the first is of course the return visit to the battlefields, including a night spent isolated in on of the clearings that were fought over, and the second is of the meetings between the authors and their former enemies and of the friendships that evolved from those meetings.
Moore and Galloway were given an impressive level of access to members of the North Vietnamese military, starting at the very top with General Giap, and including the senior commanders in the Ia Drang. Moore's direct opposite, Lt. Gen. Nguyen Huu An also accompanied them on their return visit to the battlefields.
The battles in the Ia Drang were fought in two different areas - first at Landing Zone X-Ray, where the Americans first landed, and then during a march to Landing Zone Albany. An interesting feature of the book is the different emotions the two former battlefields evoked. At X-Ray the scars of battle had almost disappeared, and the atmosphere was one of healing, but not so at Albany, where the fighting had been if anything more intense.
The final two chapters take a different direction. In Lessons on Leadership General Moore looks back over his career and shares his own principles of leadership. Although these lessons are based on General Moore's military experience, most of them are equally valid in any organisation.
On the final chapter - 'On War' - Moore looks at the conditions that should be met before any political leader considers going to war, and how they applied both to Vietnam and to the war in Iraq. Moore makes a convincing case against both of these wars as lacking both a clear purpose and an exit strategy.This is a thoughtfully written piece, which comes to some interesting conclusions. The return to the Ia Drang did help exorcise some of the ghosts that had haunted the veterans of the battles, but didn't give a sense of closure. This is a very valuable book for anyone interested in the impact of infantry combat on the participants.
Author: Lt. Gen. Harold G. Moore and Joseph Galloway