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Goodnight Saigon Hardcover – January 4, 2005


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Berkley Hardcover; First Edition edition (January 4, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0425188469
  • ISBN-13: 978-0425188460
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.1 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #617,773 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Charles Henderson is a veteran of more than 23 years in the U.S. Marine Corps, with a distinguished career spanning from Vietnam to the Gulf War, after which he retired as a Chief Warrant Officer. In addition to writing his own books and for various publications, he also runs his family's cattle enterprise in Colorado. He is the author of the military classics Marine Sniper and Silent Warrior, which first chronicled the exploits of U.S.M.C. sniper Carlos Hathcock. He is also the author of Marshalling the Faithful.

More About the Author

I am a professional writer living near Colorado Springs, CO. Besides raising, breeding, and riding my quarterhorses, I love all kinds of music and movies. My taste ranges from Meat Loaf to George Strait, George Thorogood to Wagner.

Customer Reviews

3.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Mcgivern Owen L on November 21, 2005
Format: Hardcover
"Good Night Saigon" is an impressive work of military history. Whenever this reviewer believes he has read about the Indochina war from every conceivable angle, he is proven wrong-and wrong again. GNS offers yet one more insight to that protracted conflict. The author was a member of the last detachment of Marines to be extracted from the grounds of the U.S. Embassy in Saigon on April 30, 1975. The scope of GNS is far broader than one fateful day and therein lies its' strength. We are reminded-painfully- that South Vietnam fell apart from North to South. In March, President Thieu made the disastrous decision to abandon Military Regions I and II to the advancing North Vietnamese and concentrate on the defense of the capitol. Any semblance of an orderly withdrawal evaporated as waves of South Vietnamese, both ARVN and civilian, fled south in panicked droves. The sheer amount of supplies and materiel relinquished to the NVA was incalculable. Author Henderson has interviewed some 40 subjects with first hand knowledge of that simmering time. These include media correspondents, Vietnamese military (ARVN, VC and NVA), a Communist Party official, Vietnamese civilians, many U.S. military including a former USMC Commandant, and even Nguyen Cao Ky, former Premier of South Vietnam. That guy escaped a foundering Saigon piloting his own chopper! Thanks to their collective recollections and some skillful reconstructed dialog, the reader gets a grand feeling of doom as the country imploded. We learn that many South Vietnamese fought valiantly to the bitter end, notably General Le Min Dao, commander of the ARVN 18th Division. This reviewer now believes that not all Americans were on the same page.Read more ›
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Michael J. Becker on December 19, 2005
Format: Hardcover
A great book which reviews the closing days of the Vietman conflict. The author interviews military, political leaders, civilians and press from both sides. It's a fast moving piece with plenty of action.

The downside of the book is that there are no maps or photos of some of the US Marines discussed, which would have been useful in understanding where battles were located. I found a web site, which has photos and also gives additional information at

[...] Great book!
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Johnnie B. on April 11, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I initially did not want to purchase this book for two reasons. First, there were numerous books on the last days of the Republic of Vietnam and I thought the author would just plow through the same old stuff. Also, the title implied it would just be about the Embassy Marines in Saigon. I was pleasantly surprised!

Charles Henderson's primary focus is on the Marines at the embassy in Saigon and the consulate in Da Nang. To a lesser extent he looks into final activities in Can Tho and Nha Trang. However, he gives us more to consider.

The author reveals that both the Communist and Republican Vietnamese were essentially on their last legs. America was drastically reducing aid to South Vietnam. But North Vietnam was apparently facing similar problems too! In a last ditch gambit, North Vietnam begins to attack South Vietnam in late 1974. If the campaign goes well, they will likely prevail. If it goes poorly, they will probably never have another chance.

Unlike previous stories of this tragic time, Henderson reveals Communist victory was not a foregone conclusion.....at least not initially. ARVN had ample supplies in its two northernmost corps to weather a large scale attack. Unfortunately, South Vietnam's President Nguyen Van Thieu makes the disasterous decision to have I and II Corps fall back and defend key population centers even though these forces were already heavily engaged and would be unable to take most of their supplies with them. This tactial withdrawl resulted in a route that guaranteed the destruction of South Vietnam's military and Communist victory.

Another plus about this book is that its more than just about the last US Marines in South Vietnam. Besides the US Marines, we see RVN and NVA generals, Viet Marines, ARVN officers, etc.
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Format: Hardcover
I make that rather pungent judgment on the basis of errors of omission and commission by the author. In the former category, we have a complete absence of maps, photographs, and footnotes. For me, leaving those things out of a military history is inexplicable and inexcusable. Why couldn't the author have included diagrams or maps of the Embassy Compound, Saigon, and Vietnam? How in the world can a reader be expected to follow the narrative? The absence of photographs is just as bad. The fall of South Vietnam and the end of the Vietnam War were profoundly photogenic events. Why couldn't the author have provided a few of the iconic images from that time (having just one picture on the cover of the book does not cut it)? Why couldn't he have provided photographs of all the people he interviewed for the book. And the absence of footnotes and endnotes is galling. I know that they are a pain to have to include, but how else can a reader determine what sources shaped the book?

In the latter category (omission), there is an even more grievous error. Like a lot of popular histories, the book includes lengthy conversations between individuals that feature in it. How could the author reconstruct these? A few might have been televised, but what about the rest? How can the author quote word for word what was said at an event that took places thirty years ago? Even for the ones that he was present at, how could he do this? I served in the military, and I have trouble remembering single sentences from conversations from just fifteen years ago under fairly memorable circumstances as well. The obvious conclusion --absent detailed notes explaining why entire conversations are reproduced-- is that the conversations were "reconstructed.
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