Mr. Prados has edited a fantastic book filled with vignettes and stories straight from the people who fought this most unfortunate war. The contributors run the gamut rank wise, from the lowly to those in the upper echelons. Contributions from members of all branches of our services in that war are included. Even more interesting is the inclusion of insights and stories from "Charley". You know, the gooks! Mr. Prados gives insight into the context of the narratives. Thank goodness he does, as without them most of us who were not there would have almost no idea as to what these fantastic men, and women, are referring to. As many have said "You wouldn't understand, you weren't there." Or "good soldiers, bad war." After reading this book it is certainly somewhat easier to relate to the veracity of these phrases. Having been a teen in the last throes of this incredibly misguided foray I now realize how fortunate I was to be born when I was. A few years earlier and I, too, might have found myself in some of these unbelievable and bizarre situations. I know I will stand up a whole lot quicker and be a whole lot more appreciative when these vets walk down the street during parades. I thank Mr. Prados for putting this book together. I thank these vets for sharing their innermost feelings and stories. For those with a penchant for learning more about this conflict or those who spent time "in country" this book would be exceedingly valuable. Viet Nam, like Korea, deserves a whole lot more time than we give it in our history classes. And I say this as a high school history teacher myself!
This is a very good book. John Prados has written extensively on the Vietnam War for decades. What he has done here is put on a new hat and has edited short accounts from all sorts of sources and offers individual accounts of what happened when they were there. This spans from the violent, profane and to the humorous. It presents humanity at both its best and worst. Mostly officers and predominately from an American male point of view, he uses each entry to show a condition, be it getting a good price at the PX to combat, with SEALS or draftees who did not want to be there, to the bad and to the good. Some of the individuals we all know, like Norman Schwarzkopf, but most entries are from new names to the reader. Each chapter centers on an era or a place, but in that chapter you can get a glimpse of the overall combat situation. So one goes from the Central Highlands to the 1st Corps region, from the start of the conflict to the Abrams era. Each entry has Prados explaining the circumstances and again, we have a multitude of information and situations. The understanding of the war is clearly deep. There are some threads that are woven through the book too. For example he has a discussion in a few places about the orders (from a Saigon bureaucrat) ordering off duty troops not to carry firearms. How crazy is that!? There is one map and no illustrations. It does have a nice balanced introduction by Prados that I found even-handed and helpful. I could see this as an interesting read for the casual reader who can pick it up and put it down at any point and not lose one's place, or as a complimentary book in a University course on Vietnam. Well done!