Huế 1968: A Turning Point of the American War in VietnamHuế 1968: A Turning Point of the American War in Vietnam by Mark Bowden
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is another of those “must read” books that should not be passed by. If you have any interest in the era or this war, you should read Bowden’s book. It’s long. It’s heavy (in hardcover), but it’ll be worth the effort.

A true understanding of events during this era (or any era, for that matter) in history requires effort on the part of the reader. There are many excellent to mediocre to downright bull-feces books out there on the topic of the Vietnam War that have been written since the 60s. This particular book falls into the excellent category.

While no book, movie, or memoir will ever put you in the shoes (boots) of those who were there, you will learn from their experiences and empathize with their plight during those tumultuous times.

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About V. T. Eric Layton

vtel57, Nocturnal Slacker

4 responses »

  1. PsiCop says:

    Although I was but a wee lad during the Vietnam War, I still recall it … specifically, seeing stories about it on the nightly news. And hearing about all the protests over it. It may be one of the first conflicts the US engaged in, which carried enough political baggage to flavor how it’s seen. And that means it’s important to understand the War itself as well as how it was handled domestically … but all that political baggage makes it hard for people to do.

    You may have seen Ken Burns’s recent documentary series. Reaction to it is a classic example of that political baggage I just mentioned: Folks on the Right assailed it as “Commie propaganda” while some on the Left said it didn’t do enough to condemn the War. Neither position is even remotely true (although it did lean more against the war than for it) … but you can’t tell any of them that, they’re not buying it.

    Anyway, truly informative histories of the Vietnam War are, IMHO, few and far between. I’ll have to check this one out!

    • Indeed. This era in American history, even 40+ years later, is still a divisive topic. And yes, I did see the K. Burns film. My only complaint about it was that it left so much out. It didn’t seem nearly as detail oriented as his seminal Civil War documentary. However, it was still very much worth the watch.

      Many of the books I’ve read about the Vietnam War over the years just tend to piss me off with the waste and inanity (and insanity) of the entire cluster-fuck that it was. This book had that effect on me also. Civilian and military leadership at the top was corrupt, inept, often downright dishonest.

      Such a waste of life.

      • PsiCop says:

        The thing that I find gets missed in most histories of the Vietnam War is how and why we were even involved in the first place. Often the implication is that we went in there suddenly with the intention of fighting off those dreaded Commies. In a way, that’s what we did … but it’s an anachronistic way of describing what happened.

        Burns touched on it during his documentary series, but didn’t delve too deeply. Even so, it was much more thorough than anything I’d seen before. The reality is that it was a slow and sneaky process, not sudden at all. It was actually a bit seductive and followed somewhat naturally as a result of the precedent we’d set in Korea.

        By this, I don’t mean to excuse what happened. I’m just pointing out that it proved relatively easy for the US to get sucked into Vietnam, and that the sucking process happened over the course of many years and several administrations (Truman, then Eisenhower, then Kennedy, and finally open involvement in armed conflict under Johnson). This is important, because it could easily happen again. I mean, it’s great to know that Johnson and Nixon made a lot of terrible decisions once US troops were fully involved, but the door had been opened to them by others, and it’d pay to be able to recognize that in the future.

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