on March 26, 2001
There are few books that capture the essence of a Marine the way that this tale does. Gunny Hatchcock was more than a Marine, he was also a heroe and a pioneer. His mastering of the sniper craft and his eventual legend were responsible for the ultimate success of the Marine Corps sniper program.
Charles Henderson does an admirable job with this book but realistically it is a story that sells itself. This narration details some of the many missions Hatchock underwent during two tours of Vietnam. It chronicles the more often than not painful self discipline that made Hatchcock the deadliest sniper in Vietnam. The author also peppers the account with enough of Hatchcock's personal life to show what a great man and Marine he really was.
The tale is amazing enough in relaying how great of a shot that Hatchcock was but the true mark is hit in that is shows that Hatchcock was a devoted Marine. To say he was dedicated would be a dramatic understatement. The tale of his stalking the Vietnam general and the patience it took to get that one shot is worth reading the book alone. It is a testament to not only his training but his own self discipline.
The book reads in a flash. I have read it several times and it hasn't lost any interest. A must read for Marines, military and history buffs, and just anyone curious about a tale of a hero.
on June 7, 1997
Practically everyone who knows me has heard me rave on and on about this book. I read it for the first time about 4 years ago, after picking it up while browsing through the bookstore. I read the excerpt at the front recounting the Vietnamese general's final moments and I was hooked. I recently finished it again, and it was even better this time. Everything that happens to Hathcock seems like something out of a movie; something no mortal man could survive. I learned to respect the discipline and will-power of a well-trained Marine, and was left in awe of the effectiveness of the sniper. Charles Henderson does his part, too. He not only tells Hathcock's incredible story, but makes it an immersive, addictive one to read. Through his clear and descriptive writing, the reader is transported back in time to the dark "Charlie"-filled jungles of Vietnam, where he lies beside the sniper known as "Long Tra'ng" and experiences not only the satisfaction of a well-placed shot, but also the emotional struggles that a man must deal with when he takes the life of another one. Undoubtedly a timeless classic
on February 7, 2001
Although I lack military experience, I must say that this novel is perhaps one of the greatest military biographies I have read. Perhaps the reason this novel is so enjoyable, is because you have absolutely no idea what story will be told next. Furthermore, if you are like me, you possbily never even heard the name Carlos Hathcock before.
This biography was very enjoyable, because it kept me on the edge of my seat. The personal stories of Hathcock, and eyewitness accounts are amazing. I can't fathom an individual who can shoot a gun accurately at 2,000 yards. But this novel gets you in close and personal with a person who lived by the motto, "one shot, one kill" at a distance of over 1,000 yards.
Henderson, the author, does a great job of describing Hathcock, and his missions by using expert witnesses and documents. Merely page through the bibliography to see the amount of research that Henderson did for this novel, and you will realize that this book must be pretty close to the absolute truth.
Overall, this book is fantastic, due to the missions that are explained in here. Henderson makes you feel right at home with this legend, and creates a lively image on each mission. As a result, this novel is easy to read, because it is a page-turner. Henderson also does an excellent job as to explain the mentality of Hathcock towards the Marines and towards the art of sniping. I never realized that a person who is a sniper must have a unique mentality in order to do this job. And Henderson shows that sniping is not for everyone.
The novel also immortalizes Hathcock as a hero and a leader.....as it should. Hathcock was at the top of his field, and literally designed the manual for this new class in the military. But his ideas have found there way into SWAT teams, and police forces through the world. Hathcock was a hero, who ultimately paid the price for his bravery in the Vietnam war. This novel is a must read for all individuals, not just the military type person!
on September 2, 2004
This is the original book, written about Carlos Hathcock in 1985.
A second book, also written by Charles Henderson called Silent Warrior in 2000, is also about Hathcock. Some of this book is cut and pasted in the second book.
This book however does not have the detail on the background on some of Hathcock's greatest kills, The Frenchman, the Apache, the North Vietnamese General, and the Chinese Colonel.
It does go into more detail on the heartbreaking aftermath of what happened after Hathcock saved the lives of 7 burning Marines on an APC where he himself, by hanging around on the APC to save the others got burned over 93% of his body. His iron will and a bunch of friends kept him in the service until 1979, when he was retired as 100% disabled, due to MS that had kicked in due to his injuries.
Both books are good, but given the choice of reading only one, I would read the second book rather than this one.
on December 11, 2002
I first heard of Carlos Hathcock when I was in the Air Force. I heard of him from Roberto "Bobby" Barrera, a former Marine and Vietnam veteran who was riding on the same AMTRAC as Hathcock (an AMTRAC is an amphibious armored vehicle) when it rolled over a hidden mine and was blown-up. Barrera credited Hathcock with saving his life, along with that of many fellow Marines aboard that vehicle. Bobby read us the story of that event from this very book.
Later on, I heard the story of how Hathcock engaged a Viet Cong "mule" bringing guns and ammo down the Ho Chi Minh train on his bike. Hathcock fired a round that destroyed the bike and left the boy shaken, but untouched. However, the youngster grabbed one of the AK-47s he was carrying on his bike, inserted a magazine, and began searching for the sniper who shot his bike! Carlos fired again, killing the boy.
Another famous story I heard tell involves the sniper vs. sniper showdown. Carlos and an NVA sniper were tracking one another, both intent on killing before they were killed. Both had their guns sited on each other, but Carlos got his round off first, which went right through the other guy's scope, into his eye, and killed him instantly.
Most recently, I heard of Carlos Hathcock again through firearms manufacturer Springfield Armory. They recently introduced a new version of their fine M1A rifle (a "civilized" M-14 battle rifle) called the M-25 "White Feather" Tactical Rifle. Definitely the most advanced rifle that Springfield has ever produced, and it comes with a facsimile of Hathcock's signature engraved on the receiver. I thought it was an excellent tribute to Carlos, especially considering that he liked that M-14 rifle much better than the M-16.
Finally, I found this book; "Marine Sniper;" and after hearing about exploits of Carlos Hathcock for so many years from so many sources, decided I needed to read about him for myself. Having just finished the book, I must confess that this has been one of the most enjoyable reads that I've come across in the past several years. Even my wife; who has no interest in the Marines, snipers, or Vietnam; found the book to be extremely well written and very enjoyable.
I read a LOT of biographies, especially those concerning American military heroes. Yet this book by Charles Henderson stands head and shoulders above them all. Henderson does a superb job writing a book that an average Marine recruit would be able to comprehend, yet it is detailed and interesting enough for even an officer to enjoy. Rather than writing in the dry, boring academic style that so many biographies are made up of, he wisely chooses to write a "story" about Hathcock, and the book reads more like a fine novel than the typical end-noted, scholarly biography. But that doesn't mean the book is short on factual information or research, for there is more than enough information to soothe the savage nit-picker. Just about any Marine Vietnam veteran and/or competition rifle shooter can verify most of the information in this book, if you don't believe in it yourself. Fortunately, I was lucky enough to have Bobby Barrera to verify the horrible incident where a mine hidden in a road blew up the AMTRAC he and Hathcock were riding; both men suffered severely from that attack.
Yes, there are some areas in this book which are obviously "fictional" in that Henderson wasn't able to interview the dead Vietnamese that Hathcock had just killed with his rifle. So there are thoughts and words put to these real-life characters that may or may not be true --we'll never know. But Henderson uses this technique very sparingly, and when it is used, is done in a very effective, professional manner that makes for a most interesting read.
It is also quite obvious that this book was a labor of love for the author, and the loving care in which Hathcock's tale is told is evident on every single page of this book. Henderson holds Hathcock in very high esteem, as do innumerable fellow Americans, fellow Marines and fellow competition shooters. It is rare to find a book like this, and I am eternally thankful to Charles Henderson for writing it. Now I too can finally understand the high esteem upon which so many people hold Carlos Hathcock. I know I will be telling my children about him, and pray to God that they grow up to be even half the man that he was.
on February 15, 2001
There is no better history of a sniper account ever wrote. The man did everything but invent the art of sniping. The man has done more for the Marine Corps sniper school and in turn for the Army than anyone. This book is an account of the history of the greatest sniper ever. It takes you through every hunt, stalk, and kill with such detail it makes you feel as though you are laying next to him as his spotter. The book goes over how the sniper rifles for Vietnam came about, and also the things that became basic sniper training that he invented out in the field. It takes you over some of his most famous hunts and shots and finishes with his grand final hunt days before he was due to leave Vietnam. It goes over some accounts of some of the famous NVA snipers that were in the same field as he was, just not as lucky to return home. Once you pick up the book you will not want to put it down as your interest grows in the book, just as the price on his head grew in Vietnam by the NVA. The only disappointment of the whole book is the end, and the fact that you run out of book to read about this great man. The man is a hero, and should have won the Medal of Honor for the amount of lives he saved with his "93 confirmed kills".
on February 27, 1999
This book introduces it's readers to Carlos, a truly dedicated Marine and American patriot. I know personally, how much he loved his country and fought to protect everything and everyone he loved. His protective, yet tender nature, was stirred, even as a child..You see, I remember the time he stood between me a 3rd grade boy who pushed me out of the bus line. He knew he would get in trouble for fighting, but his answer was, "I had to protect her." So you see, fellow Americans, your hero has been my hero since we were kids. Carlos will always be in my heart and "White Feather" will always hang on my wall. I am proud to be his cousin, 'Dot'. SEMPER FI, Carlos.
on December 3, 2000
The book "Marine Sniper" is an Auto-Biography about a Marine Sniper named Sgt. Carlos Hathcock during the Vietnam war. He had 93 confirmed kills and that made him the most famous American sniper since World War I. Before he had gone to Vietnam, he was the U.S. Long Range Rifle Champion in 1965. When he went to Vietnam his job was to go as deep as possible in enemy territory. To do that he had to hide, wait and shoot when ordered to at enemy officers, soldiers, etc..
By reading this book you will learn new things that you have never heard about the Vietnam war, for example: Vietnamese wiring three and four year old children as booby traps, and the marines that accepted cold sodas that had been poured into cups filled with tiny shards of broken glass, mixed with chipped ice. After Marines heard of these stories they learned to stay clear of children. Children were also used as Vietcong resupply "mule's", carrying guns and ammunition to an enemy patrol. Under one circumstance, Hathcock had to shoot one of these mules or else the enemy would have gotten those weapons and turned them onto Marines. Hathcock never wanted to kill men, much less children, but under orders, he had to.
Hathcock had to make some risky decisions that could have cost him his life during the war. For instance, He was assigned an assignment which was to kill a general who lived in a North Vietnamese army camp, guarded by lots of security and patrols by soldiers and officers. After 3 days and nights and crawling 1,500 yards across the open plains he killed the general. He also dragged 6 fellow unconscious marines out of a burning armored vehicle which was struck by an antitank mine. He suffered second and third degree burns over 90% of his body.
When Hathcock shot, his victims never knew what hit them when his brand of "Whispering Death" struck, they only heard the heavy bullet's impact when he missed. When the Marines were doing a sweep on a certain area to get Vietcong soldiers as prisoners, but the ones that decided to run had to get past the sniper ( Carlos Hathcock) who was named "Long Tra'ng" or White Feather. He was know as White Feather because he had a White Feather on his hat. If those men wanted to get past him, they had to cross several hundred yards of open rice fields, ankle deep in water. Those men were shot dead by Hathcock.
Hathcock also had wife named Josephine and a son, Carlos Norman Hathcock III. Jo and Carlos got married in 1962. Hathcock was born in a little town near Little Rock Arkansas. In that town is where he got his shooting skills. His grandmother had got him a little rifle for his birthday and he used to go out and hunt for food with it. On May 20 (Hathcock's Birthday), Hathcock and his mother went to the Marine recruiters office to sign Carlos into the U.S. Marines. Carlos was fit because after dropping out of High School after 15, he went to work for a Little Rock Concrete Contractor, Shoveling Cement ten hours a day, six days a week.
on March 4, 2000
This is one of the best books that I have read.. Charles Hathcock was one of the best snipers' that the Marines' had to offer.. I am sad to say that Charles Hathcock has passed away but may his legacy live on in our hearts and minds.. This book will explain it all.. He fought bravely for this country and his skills will never be matched... This book represents the Corps and its value not only during vietnam but in the present day... Marine Sniper is an excellent book and shows our history and the men who served with honor... SEMPER FI GUNNY HATHCOCK..... YOU WILL BE REMEMBERED
on February 22, 2000
This one is hard to put down. Very realistic account of the stealth, patience, determination and marksmanship that it takes to be a Marine sniper. Lots of details on his various long range kills. Makes you feel like you are lying there in the shadows with him. I particularly liked the sniper-countersniper and stalking the NVA general chapters. Interesting was the difference in the attitudes of his fellow Marines from his first tour in Nam and his second. Hathcock was a real patriot and an excellent shot. Good book.