Vietnam War Recommended Reading

In Military History, Featured

The Vietnam War film poster © Public Broadcasting Service (PBS)

On Sunday, September 17, The Vietnam War: A Film by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick premiered. This is a 10-part, 18-hour documentary, and is one that we at Osprey have been looking forward to for months. The official description on the website reads:

The Vietnam War, tells the epic story of one of the most consequential, divisive, and controversial events in American history as it has never before been told on film. Visceral and immersive, the series explores the human dimensions of the war through revelatory testimony of nearly 80 witnesses from all sides—Americans who fought in the war and others who opposed it, as well as combatants and civilians from North and South Vietnam. Ten years in the making, the series includes rarely seen and digitally re-mastered archival footage from sources around the globe, photographs taken by some of the most celebrated photojournalists of the 20th Century, historic television broadcasts, evocative home movies, and secret audio recordings from inside the Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon administrations. The Vietnam War features more than 100 iconic musical recordings from greatest artists of the era and haunting original music from Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross as well as the Silk Road Ensemble featuring Yo-Yo Ma.

You can discover even more information about this film on the official site, in addition to some great clips to take a look at this stunning footage. Speaking of footage, here's the official trailer for the film, and it is certainly worth a watch:

 

To help share our excitement, we've put together a list of some of our favorite Vietnam War titles that we publish. Take a look to see some great reading to supplement watching this fantastic film. We hope you enjoy them as much as we do, and be sure to tell us your thoughts on the Ken Burns film after watching!

Vietnam: A View from the Front Lines

Vietnam: A View from the Front Lines

The Vietnam War ripped America apart and charted the nation's tumultuous future. In their tens of thousands, young men went off to fight in what was an initially popular war only to face defeat and acrimony as national resolve wavered - and returned home to a nation that reviled them and tried to forget about them. Written by Andrew Wiest, the best-selling author of The Boys of '67: Charlie Company's War in Vietnam this book traces the American experience of Vietnam from the war's popular inception to its morale-crushing and bitter conclusion.
 
Based on rich collection housed at the Center of Military History and at the Vietnam Archive at Texas Tech, Vietnam allows the reader a grunt's-eye view of the conflict - from the steaming rice paddies and swamps of the Mekong Delta, to the triple-canopy rainforest of the Central Highlands, and to the forlorn Marine bases that dotted the DMZ. The stories contained within these pages detail everything from heroism and battle to helicopters hitting the landing zones and death and injury.
 
In their own words, this is a true and grippingly accurate portrait of the American war in Vietnam through the eyes of the men and women who fought in that far away land, and those they left behind.

Company of Heroes

Company of Heroes

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.

Its focus is the remarkable account of a Medal of Honor recipient Leslie Sabo Jr., whose brave actions were forgotten for over three decades. 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. Company of Heroes, now published in paperback, tells the remarkable story of how Sabo earned his medal, as Bravo Company forged bonds of brotherhood in their daily battle for survival.

The Boys of '67

The Boys of '67When the 160 men of Charlie Company (4th Battalion/47th Infantry/9th ID) were drafted by the US Army in May 1966, they were part of the wave of conscription that would swell the American military to 80,000 combat troops in theater by the height of the war in 1968. In the spring of 1966, the war was still popular and the draftees of Charlie Company saw their service as a rite of passage. But by December 1967, when the company rotated home, only 30 men were not casualties-and they were among the first vets of the war to be spit on and harassed by war protestors as they arrived back the U.S.

In his new book, The Boys of '67, Andy Wiest, the award-winning author of Vietnam's Forgotten Army and The Vietnam War 1956-1975, examines the experiences of a company from the only division in the Vietnam era to train and deploy together in similar fashion to WWII's famous 101st Airborne Division. 

Wiest interviewed more than 50 officers and enlisted men who served with Charlie Company, including the surviving platoon leaders and both of the company's commanders. (One of the platoon leaders, Lt Jack Benedick, lost both of his legs, but went on to become a champion skier.) In addition, he interviewed 15 family members of Charlie Company veterans, including wives, children, parents, and siblings. Wiest also had access to personal papers, collections of letters, a diary, an abundance of newspaper clippings, training notebooks, field manuals, condolence letters, and photographs from before, during, and after the conflict.

As Wiest shows, the fighting that Charlie Company saw in 1967 was nearly as bloody as many of the better publicized battles, including the infamous 'Ia Drang' and 'Hamburger Hill.' As a result, many of the surviving members of Charlie Company came home with what the military now recognizes as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder-a diagnosis that was not recognized until the late 1970s and was not widely treated until the 1980s. Only recently, after more than 40 years, have many members of Charlie Company achieved any real and sustained relief from their suffering.

The US Army in the Vietnam War 1965-73

The US Army in the Vietnam War

This book provides detailed information about how US Army units were organised and operated in America's longest war. Vietnam Special Forces veteran Gordon L Rottman examines the different types of infantry battalions and the units that supported them, their training and organisation down to platoon level. Aspects of the US Army's conventional and unconventional warfare doctrine are also addressed, along with a discussion of how replacements were trained and integrated into units. Among other areas of the US Army's involvement covered are individual and crew-served weapons, artillery, armoured fighting vehicles, transport, logistics, the complex chain of command, and combat operations.

 

 

 

US Helicopter Pilot in Vietnam

US Helicopter Pilot in Vietnam

One of the most enduring and vivid images of Vietnam is the helicopter. There is little doubt that the helicopter revolutionized warfare and how the war in Vietnam (1955-1975) was fought. Helicopters lifted troops, supplies, material, equipment, and vehicles. They conducted visual reconnaissance, command and control, medical evacuation, artillery spotting, fire support, and countless administrative tasks. They were aerial weapons platforms and aerial trucks. The 40,000 pilots were the men behind this revolution.

Many helicopter pilots were thrill seekers to some degree. They liked fast cars and a fast life. To "party hardy" was a common term used to describe their lifestyle. They loved to fly and the war gave them the opportunity to do that. They were little concerned with the politics of the war, the conflicts back at home, and could care less about the drug culture, sexual revolution, the environment, and other social issues that defined their generation. A common aviator's phrase was, "Who needs drugs, I'm already high."

Helicopter pilots experienced a broad range of combat, from air-lift, med-evac and fire-support to landing in 'Hot LZs', in which choppers would find themselves caught in deadly high-volume crossfires. Crew protection, other than armored seats for the pilots, was minimal. There was little armor to protect vital engines, transmissions, and fuel tanks. Crashes were survivable, but aircrews suffered relatively high casualties. Enemy action was not the only cause for concern. Of the 4,642 US helicopters lost in Vietnam, over half were due to non-hostile causes-accidents, mechanical failure, weather, and other non-combat causes. Aviators had to deal with long flying hours in a less than pleasant climate, heat, humidity, dust, rapidly changing weather conditions, spare parts shortages, and spotty maintenance. All of these accumulated to make the lives of natural risk-takers more dangerous. This book will reveal their experiences from their first deployment to the deadly thrill of combat in a war zone. Accompanied by poignant photographs and written by a Vietnam veteran, this is a crucial addition to our coverage of the conflict that defined the post-war generation in America.

Viet Cong Fighter

Viet Cong Fighter

Osprey's study of the Viet Cong fighters of the Vietnam War (1955-1975). An enemy in the shadows, the Viet Cong was the military arm of the National Liberation Front, the Communist Party of the Republic of Vietnam. Often generally thought of as local guerrillas, they were also an important part of the North Vietnamese Army regular cadres.

Packed with emotive and rare photographs, this book not only analyzes the skills and tactics of these fascinating fighters, but also takes a look at their social origins to interpret how this affected their behavior as warriors.

Gordon L Rottman discusses the Viet Cong's recruitment and initial training, their unique motivation, their extensive political and psychological indoctrination, and their distinct equipment and weaponry, to provide a compelling and balanced account of these legendary guerrilla fighters.

US Marine vs NVA Soldier

US Marine vs NVA Soldier

In 1967-68, the United States Marine Corps (USMC) was on the front line of the defense of South Vietnam's Quang Tri province, which was at the very heart of the Vietnam conflict. Facing them were the soldiers of the North Vietnamese Army (NVA), men whose organization and equipment made them a very different opponent from the famous, irregular Viet Cong forces. From the "Hill Battles" in April 1967 to the struggle for the city of Hu? (January-March 1968) this bloody campaign forced the two sides into a grueling trial of strength. The USMC held a general technological and logistical advantage--including close air support and airborne transport, technology, and supplies - but could not always utilize these resources effectively in mountainous, jungle, or urban environments better known by their Vietnamese opponents.

In this arresting account of small-unit combat, David R. Higgins steps into the tropical terrain of Vietnam to assess the performance and experience of six USMC and NVA units in three savage battles that stretched both sides to the limit.

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