Books - Vietnam
The Frost Weeds, Vietnam: 1964-1965, James Oliveri. The memoirs of a conscripted radio operator who served in Vietnam just before the start of the main American intervention. The period and the nature of his work means that we thus get an account of the attempts to cooperate with the South Vietnamese, as well as tales of life in the isolated bases scattered across remote areas of the country. A useful memoir that covers a less familiar period of the war [read full review]
Tours of Duty - Vietnam War Stories, ed. Michael Lee Lanning. A collection of a large number of Vietnam War stories, ranging in size from a small paragraph to several pages, and covering everything from a single incident to someone's entire service in country. Not presented in any particular order, so we get a kaleidoscopic view of the war, which perhaps reflects the way it seemed at the time to those taking part in it. [read full review]
The Illustrated History of the Vietnam War, Andrew Wiest & Chris McNab. Somewhat lacking on coverage of the Vietnamese view of the war, but excellent on the American side of the war, explaining not only what the US did, but why, and why so much of it went wrong. Good coverage of the wider war in South East Asia, looking at how the conflict affected Laos and Cambodia as well as the US Home Front. A good selection of pictures, but again almost entirely from the US side [read full review]
The Siege of LZ Kate, Arthur G. Sharp . Looks at the short but fierce North Vietnamese siege of a US firebase close to the Cambodia border, and the dramatic night time escape that saw the besieged US and allied soldiers escape from this trap. The siege only really lasted four days, so is covered in some detail, especially of the invaluable air support that kept the base supplied, evacuated the wounded and provided fire power to defend the isolated post against much larger attacking force. [read full review]
Storming the City - U.S. Military Performance in Urban Warfare from World War II to Vietnam, Alec Wahlman . Looks at four city battles - Aachen in 1944, Manila in 1945, Seoul in 1950 and Hue in 1968 to see how the US military coped - what plans it had in place for urban warfare, how effective they were, and how things changed over time. A useful volume that analyses a key aspect of military operations across four rather different battlefields. [read full review]
Embers of War: The Fall of an Empire and the Making of America's Vietnam, Frederick Logevall . A brilliant study of the French war in Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh and Giap's political and military campaigns for independence, and the slow increase in American involvement in the country, looking at how the United States got dragged into her own war in Indochina. [read full review]
Rolling Thunder in a Gentle Land, ed. Andrew Wiest. Excellent study of the Vietnam War looking at a far wider range of topics than in most books on this war, and with contributions from American, North Vietnamese and South Vietnamese authors and participants in the war. An impressive piece of work that gives a good overview of the Vietnam War and the wider issues that surrounded the conflict. [read full review]
Vietnam - A View from the Front Lines, Andrew Wiest. An impressive collection of first hand accounts that trace the American soldier's journey during the Vietnam War, from their pre-war lives, through entering the army (or Marines), training, first experiences of Vietnam, the experience of battle, injury or loss, the return home, either at the end of a tour of duty or after being wounded, and life after Vietnam. [read full review]
USAF and VNAF A-1 Skyraider Units of the Vietnam War, Byron E Hukee. Looks at the almost fifteen year long career of the A-1 Skyraider in the skies over Vietnam, where it served as a ground attack aircraft as well as supporting search and rescue aircraft. Written by a former USAF pilot who actually flew the Skyraider in Vietnam, and includes a large number of eyewitness accounts by his fellow pilots, both American and Vietnamese. [read full review]
The Boys of '67: Charlie Company's War in Vietnam, Andrew Wiest. Inspired by a meeting with a veteran of the company, this followed Charlie Company from its formation in the US, through training and on to its original men's year-long tour of duty in Vietnam. A rather melancholy book, as the men we have followed begin to be killed or wounded without any sign that their efforts were having any impact in Vietnam, but a very valuable study of the impact of war. [read full review]
Giap - The General who Defeated American in Vietnam, James A Warren. Biography of the most important Vietnamese general during the wars against France and the United States, a military leader who understood that political will was the key to the result of both wars and who was able to wear down the will of one of the world's great super powers. [read full review]
F-100 Super Sabre Units of the Vietnam War, Peter E. Davies with David W Menard. A look at the varied roles performed by the F-100 Super Sabre in Vietnam, from its limited role as a fighter, to its long period providing close support for the ground troops and on to its final role in forward air control and search and rescue. [read full review]
US MACV-SOG Reconnaissance Teams in Vietnam, Gordon L. Rottman. Focuses on an elite reconnaissance unit that carried out deep penetration missions into Laos and Cambodia to scout out the Ho Chi Minh Trail. Each team consisted of a mix of American soldiers and local troops, and their tasks were amongst the most dangerous of any combat missions during the Vietnamese War [read full review]
Vietnam Gun Trucks, Gordon L. Rottman. A study of the armed trucks used to escort vulnerable supply convoys as they crossed South Vietnam, looking at their origins as an impromptu solution to an unexpected problem, the development of more powerfully armed versions of the trucks, the tactics used by the truck crews and the often flamboyant decorative paint schemes used on the truck names. [read full review]
Army of the Republic of Vietnam 1954-75 , Gordon L. Rottman, This Osprey Men at Arms book covers the Republic of Vietnam's forces which fought alongside the US and Australian forces. They remain a much maligned and little understood force which undertook the bulk of the fighting during the conflict and have an extremely mixed reputation. The author was a US Special Forces veteran of the Vietnam war and this helps give the book authority but at times it feels like he goes out of his way to defend the subject. The book is well illustrated with colour plates of uniforms and equipment and plenty of photographs but is brief at 48 pages and at times doesn’t make organisation that clear as organisational charts would have been helpful. [read full review]
North Vietnamese Army Soldier 1958-75, Gordon L. Rottman. Osprey Warrior 135. This entry in Osprey's Warrior series looks the North Vietnamese Army in South Vietnam, following the route a NVA soldier would take on his way from civilian life in the north to a combat mission in the south. Given that it was the NVA that carried out most attacks in the south, this
We Are Soldiers Still, Lt. Gen. Harold G. Moore and Joseph Halloway. A thought provoking account of a return visit to the Ia Drang Valley, the site of the first large scale clashes between American and North Vietnamese troops. Both of the authors were present at that battle, one as the commander of first American platoon to enter the area, the other as a war correspondent. Together with a number of their opponents in the Ia Drang Moore and Galloway return to the remote battlefields where they first clashed. The central theme of this book is one of conciliation between former enemies, who thirty years after the battles became unexpected friends.[see more]
Vietnam Airmobile Warfare Tactics, Gordon L. Rottman. This is a very interesting Osprey and is well written by a former veteran of the conflict and illustrated to the usual high Osprey standard. It discusses the use of various types of helicopters and the rapid introduction of new types. Organisation and tactics are discussed but not in huge depth as this book covers a lot in its 64 pages. This book generally wets the appetite for more information and would go well with other Ospreys covering different aspects of the Vietnam War [see more].
The Making of a Quagmire: American and Vietnam During the Kennedy Era. A Pulitzer Prize winning account of Vietnam with footnotes containing information about events and key people. The book focuses on the early part of the conflict and how the USA became entangled.
Bright, Shining Lie: John Paul Vann and America in Vietnam, The classic book on Vietnam and a must have, an epic and passionate account of the highs and lows of the war seen through the eyes of a young US officer. If you read just one account of the war then this is it.
Viet-Nam Peace Negotiations, The: Saigon's Side of the Story, Nguyen, Phu Duc. An insight into the torturous Paris Peace talks written by a leading Vietnamese diplomat. A useful balance for the serious student.
Lost Crusade: America's Secret Cambodian Mercenaries, Peter Scott. This gripping book written by a US military advisor looks at the later stages of the Vietnam war from the view point of those working with the Cambodia soldiers fighting the communists. Written by someone who was actually there this is well worth a read for those interested in that aspect of the war
A Soldier Reports (Paperback), William C. Westmoreland. The autobiography of the most important American general of the Vietnam War, written in 1975 only a few years after the end of his military career.