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Road of 10,000 Pains: The Destruction of the 2nd NVA Division by the U.S. Marines, 1967 Hardcover – April 1, 2010

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Zenith Press; First edition (April 1, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0760338019
  • ISBN-13: 978-0760338018
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (49 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #677,253 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


“Road of 10,000 Pains is a very good book. And its author is not only a good writer, but a wise one who, having interviewed countless veterans of the fighting, provides the necessary narration that binds it together. His judiciously selected quotes make this account one of the best books about the Vietnam War to date.” —Leatherneck magazine

From the Inside Flap

The NVA came at Murray’s men by the score: in a whirlwind of violence, hard on the heels of mortars that mushroomed across the knoll, throwing hot, sharp steel in every direction; within lanes, marked by tracers of Soviet-made machine guns and small arms that chain-sawed every bush, sapling, and blade of grass to stubble; in platoon formation, firing from the hip; in squads, firing and maneuvering their three-man fire teams; singly, men orphaned by the Marines’ return fire but still on their feet and attacking. The NVA kept coming at the Marines in a flood, like water from a burst dam, flowing around the strong positions, threatening to carry away the weak, and then trying to come together on the far side, attempting to isolate and surround small clumps of resistance—and they nearly succeeded. Had it not been for the outstanding courage of the individual Marines and their close air support, the entire company would most likely have been butchered on the knoll.

—from The Road of 10,000 Pains

Praise for Road of 10,000 Pains

Road of 10,000 Pains has the first and only accurate description of Foxtrot Company, 2nd Battalion, 1st Marine’s combat operation on 21 April 1967 that evolved into Operation Union. Otto Lehrack vividly captures the intensity and close combat during the initial fight as well as the determination of individual Marines to continue to fight against vastly superior NVA forces.

—Maj. Gen. (ret.) Gene Deegan, CO, F/2/1


Just when you thought no more could be said about the Marine’s Vietnam War, author and oral historian Otto Lehrack, once again, breaks new ground about the high-intensity ground combat in I Corps.

—Charles D. Melson, Chief Historian, U.S. Marine Corps


A first-class contribution to Vietnam literature by someone who appreciates combat from the ground level. Based upon extensive research and personal knowledge, Road of 10,000 Pains is combat history at its best, a testimony to the raw courage of U.S. Marines. This is a must-read for everyone interested in small-unit actions in Vietnam.

—Dr. Alexander S. Cochran, Vietnam veteran and historian,
former Horner Chair of Military Theory, Marine Corps University


Que Son Valley was a strategic campaign and watershed event of the Vietnam War. Today, however, it’s relatively unknown and forgotten. But those Marines who fought its brutal battles remember Que Son. They remember the sacrifices and the scars of war, but so do they remember the camaraderie and friendships. Author Otto Lehrack’s account of the Que Son Valley campaign is a testament to those Marines who courageously committed themselves to one another and to “The Valley.”

—Maj. Gen. (ret.) John H. Admire,
former Commanding General, 1st Marine Division

More About the Author

Otto Lehrack is a retired Marine infantry officer, two-tour Vietnam Veteran, former CEO of a small Silicon Valley computer company, blue water sailor and author of five books.

Three of his books have been Military Book Club Main Selections. He has received an award from the U.S. Marine Corps Heritage Foundation for his first book, No Shining Armor: the Marines at War in Vietnam and a journalism award from the same organization. No Shining Armor is was published under the Modern War Series of the University Press of Kansas.

He lives in Asheville, North Carolina where he is working on a novel. He has an MA in history from the University of Hawaii, Manoa.

Customer Reviews

I was there, with Mike Co., 3rd Bn.
I highly recommend this book for readers interested in the Vietnam War, and the United States Marine Corps.
Joel R.
A superb telling of an important story.
Philip C. Gutzman

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

24 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Joel R. VINE VOICE on March 23, 2010
Format: Hardcover
"Being shot at for the first time is an unforgettable experience. Having holes shot into a helicopterin which one is riding ... really concentrates the mind. There is nowhere to hide, and suddenly one is faced with the prospect of death by gunshot, falling, crashing, or any combination of the above. Adrenaline runs hard and fast, heart rate soars, and one suddenly gets a mouth so dry that spit is almost impossible and no amount of water will ever be enough." Through passages like this, Otto Lehrack captures the raw emotion of the First Marine Division's combat experience in the Que Son valley in 1967.

The Que Son valley was a very strategic corridor for the North Vietnamese Army. The valley provided an corridor from the mountains in the west, to the South China sea on the east. It was populous and fertile, capable of providing both recruits and food for the NVA. In 1967, the Marines made a fateful decision to sweep the valley of the NVA.

The book covers the time period of April through November 1967. Lehrack covers three named operations: Union I & II, and Swift. In each of these operations, US Marines engaged numerically superior NVA and Viet Cong forces. At the end of the year, the second NVA Division was beaten so badly, it could not participate in the Tet offensive of 1968.

In the style of Stephen Ambrose, Lehrack masterfully combines a discussion of the battles with the words and photographs of the men who fought. "Road of 10,000 Pains" is an intense combat narrative that puts the reader in the thick of the fighting. Lehrack wrote that being shot at for the first time is an unforgettable experience -- this book is unforgettable. After reading this, I have a new found respect for the Marines who fought in Vietnam.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Robert A. Lynn on March 21, 2010
Format: Hardcover

During the DMZ border battles, the 1st Marine Division was heavily engaged in the rice plains and coastal sands of the lower three provinces of I Corps Tactical Zone. The Viet Cong stronghold in that area was between Chu Lai and Da Nang in the densely populated, fertile Phuoc Ha Valley, Nui Loc Son Basin, or Que Son Valley, which by 1967 was an old U.S. Marine battlefield. Isolated South Vietnamese forces had been consistently cut up trying to outpost the area. The U.S. Marines lacked the assets to control the valley and placed a reinforced company (Company F of the 1st Marines) on a critical hill mass overlooking it. On April 21, 1967, this company was moving along a ridgeline when it was hit by concentrated volleys of automatic weapons and grenade fire from the 3rd North Vietnamese Army Regiment outside Binh Son. The division responded by air-assaulting two battalions from Da Nang into action the next morning. One of them was airmobiled into a hornet's nest of North Vietnamese infantry and was forced to fight a major action getting beyond its landing zone. The reinforcements reached Binh Son, but combat was so intense all along the front that another battalion was helicoptered in from Chu Lai that evening. Operation UNION, under direction of the 5th Marines, had commenced. Fighting was heavy through April 25, 1967, and then the North Vietnamese began exfiltrating the battlefield. The U.S. Marines pursued, but contacts were infrequent. Then, on May 8, the 1st Battalion, 5th Marines ran into steadily increasing resistance on the northern side of the valley.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Reader 101 on April 2, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Road of 10,000 Pains, Otto Lehrack's latest tome, masterfully recounts the seldom heralded successes of the Marines in the strategically significant Que Son Valley in 1967. A retired Lieutenant Colonel (USMC) as well as a Vietnam combat veteran, Lehrack is eminently qualified to chronicle the gripping, months long battlefield theater in the valley and he does so with verve and panache, seamlessly wedding a Stephen Ambrose-like flair for thrusting the reader alongside the "grunts" at the tactical level with an insightful appreciation of what all the bloodshed, heroism, and sacrifice wrought at the strategic level.

Unlike most contemporary contributions to the expansive (and ever expanding) literature on the Vietnam War, Road of 10,000 Pains breaks new ground and adds a long overdue chapter to the War's burgeoning historiography--all in wildly entertaining, page-turning fashion.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Philip C. Gutzman on April 25, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Vietnam is routinely considered to have been a guerrilla war. It was that, and far more, in I Corps. Almost from the outset the Marines and the Army units in I Corps slugged it out with regular army units of the People's Army Viet Nam, (PAVN). In this book the author describes the incredible intensity of the fighting in the Que Son Valley southwest of Danang. As one of the North Vietnamese commanders later told the author, North Vietnam killed more Americans in the Que Son Valley than they did anywhere else in South Vietnam. A superb telling of an important story.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Jimmie A. Kepler on April 2, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Have you wondered what it would be like to be a member of the United States Marine Corps (USMC) during the Vietnam War? Have you thought what it would like to get shot at, see the person blown away right next to you, and experience the fear and adrenaline rush of combat? Retired United States Marine Otto J. Lehrack paints a spellbinding, insightful and sobering picture that answers these questions in this spectacular, must read oral history of the bloodiest campaign in Vietnam.

The story involves the actions of the USMC in the Que Son Valley of Vietnam. The action and I do mean action, takes place between April and November of 1967. You experience the frustration of the new M-16 jamming. You are left wondering how many Marines and soldiers died from the jamming and poor performance of that rifle. You marvel at the heroic leadership from the battalion commander all the way down to the FNG who knew enough to get the forward air controller to take out the 82 mm mortar location he identified and sacrifices given by these heroes. Six Medals of Honor were awarded to participants in the campaign. All but one of the citations had as its last sentence "He gallantly gave his life for his country."

This is a significant oral history of Vietnam's bloodiest campaign. Over a period of seven months you will travel along Route 534 for a series of battles against the 2nd North Vietnamese Army Division. The author's storytelling is so riveting you feel like you are there. This book is must reading for any academy cadet or persons in any pre-commissioning program. I strongly recommend ever junior officer and noncommissioned officer read this book. It shows how the NCOs assumed leadership as junior officers and senior NCOs became causalities.
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