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536 of 538 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Company Commander at X-Ray
I commanded A Company, 1st Battalion, 7th Cav under LTC Hal Moore at X-Ray. I lived the battle and led two aasaults. Hal Moore's book is an accurate account of the events of those two days and reflects his love for his soldiers as well as his determination to close with the enemy. As another reviewer described the book shortly after it was published it is "the best...
Published on March 20, 2001 by Amazon Customer

10 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Couldn't put it down, but...
I couldn't put it down and read it over just a few days. Very entertaining, especially if you are keen on all the details about a four day span when the two battles took place.

The only thing that bothered me is that the book celebrates Lt.Col. Moore (the author) as a hero and Lt.Col. McDade is heavily criticized for his actions. The number of casualties from...
Published on November 14, 2011 by David Bergsvik

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536 of 538 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Company Commander at X-Ray, March 20, 2001
Amazon Customer (Williamsburg, VA) - See all my reviews
I commanded A Company, 1st Battalion, 7th Cav under LTC Hal Moore at X-Ray. I lived the battle and led two aasaults. Hal Moore's book is an accurate account of the events of those two days and reflects his love for his soldiers as well as his determination to close with the enemy. As another reviewer described the book shortly after it was published it is "the best description of small unit combat since the Red badge of Courage". Having just read 71 reviews I note that some of the reviewers criticize Moore on issues of tactical considerations. Without going into a lot of detail the Hueys did well to carry 6 soldiers at the altitude of the central highlands of Vietnam. We did not have good intelligence as to where the enemy was so the operation was planned as a reconaissance in force. Not much different than hundreds of other air assaults by both Army and Marine units during the war. The book was not written to glorify war but to demonmstrate the courage and character of the American soldier.
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273 of 276 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A book about great leadership, not just about war, February 21, 2002
headbutler (New York, NY USA) - See all my reviews
The North Vietnamese soldier that Colonel Harold Moore's men captured in the Central Highlands of Vietnam on November 14, 1965 delivered chilling news: "There are three battalions [of Vietcong] on the mountain who very much want to kill Americans but have not been able to find any." A few hours later, those Vietnamese made contact with the 7th Cavalry --- and thus began the first battle of the Vietnam War to pit Americans directly against the Vietcong.
The killing began right away. Not the killing of Vietnamese. The killing of Americans. Five died in the first few minutes. The hills were a concert of screams and explosions. Hiding behind a termite hill, Moore thought of another man who'd led the 7th Cavalry: George Armstrong Custer. Moore promised himself that he wouldn't let this battle --- Ia Drang --- repeat the sorry history of Little Bighorn.
We Were Soldiers Once...and Young is the story of how close Moore and his men came to being slaughtered like Custer's troops. The numbers are spine-chilling: In four days of fighting --- with the enemy sometimes as close as 75 feet to the American line --- 234 Americans died. In this remarkable minute-by-minute account, you get to meet these men. And more: You watch each soldier die. And you get to grieve for every single one.
The book's real subject isn't war. It's leadership. Consider the situation. Americans had been advisers in Vietnam, but they had never really engaged the enemy. Moore was career Army: West Point, Korea, advanced studies in fast-moving, guerilla warfare. In June of l965, he began training his battalion for combat in Vietnam. In August, the Army pulled all six of his newly-acquired second lieutenants out. In August, any soldiers who had 60 days or less to serve were separated from the 7th Cavalry. So when Moore and his unit sailed to Vietnam, they had already lost 100 of their most experienced men.
The difference between an under-trained unit that survives a fierce battle and one that becomes legendary in defeat is leadership. Listen to some of the ways Moore managed his troops. He told his men:
--- "Only first-place trophies will be displayed, accepted or presented in this battalion. Second place in our line of work is defeat of the unit on the battlefield, and death for the individual in combat."
--- "Decision-making will be decentralized: Push the power down. It pays off in wartime."
--- "Loyalty flows down as well."
--- "I check up on everything. I am available day or night to talk to any officer of this battalion."
Or this: Before the battle started, James Galloway (a United Press reporter who became co-author of Moore's book 25 years later) was watching Moore's soldiers shave as he boiled water for coffee one morning before the battle. Moore passed by. "We all shave in my outfit --- reporters included," he snapped. Galloway immediately repurposed his coffee water for shaving.
And, finally, this: "In the American Civil War, it was a matter of principle that a good officer rode his horse as little as possible. There were sound reasons for this. If you are riding and your soldiers are marching, how can you judge how tired they are, how thirsty, how heavy their packs weigh on their shoulders?"
Moore applied this philosophy conscientiously. He flew in to Ia Drang on the first helicopter. He led his men from the front. When he saw men from another company beginning to haul one of his dead soldiers out of a foxhole with a harness, he snapped, "No you won't do that. He's one of my troopers and you will show some respect. Get two more men and carry him to the landing zone." When it was over and it was time for Moore to turn over command, he requested a full battalion formation. One soldier recalls, "We stood in formation, with some units hardly having enough men to form up. Colonel Moore spoke to us and he cried. At that moment, he could have led us back into the Ia Drang."
But it still wasn't over for Moore. His wife attended as many funerals as she could. And when he got back to the U.S., in April 1966, he visited some of the families of his lost men. One family thought his visit would last a few minutes. He stayed five hours. And he made sure he went with the family to visit the grave, and there he asked to spend some time alone there, kneeling in prayer and memory.
This story --- the story of the relationship of a man to the men he leads and the families who sent those men to be in his care --- is why you want to read this book, and read it now. If you're an executive in charge of workers or if you're a parent trying to raise your children, you above all other readers will be able to read through the ugliness and the pain and understand why Moore's men fought and died for him.
Should you ever be in Washington, D.C., the names of the soldiers killed at Ia Drang --- and there are 305 of them, in total --- can be found on the third panel to the right of the apex, Panel-3 East, of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. But you don't have to visit the Memorial to learn from them; thanks to Hal Moore, their deepest legacy is in the wisdom he can, in their names, pass on to you.
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111 of 113 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hero of Ia Drang also Hero of World Trade Center, October 4, 2001
By A Customer
This ran in Army Times. In addition to being one of the under-reported stories of 9-11, it seems like a remarkable footnote to a remarkable book.
`The bravest man I ever knew'
After a lifetime in which he cheated it many times, death caught up with Rick Rescorla halfway up the south tower of the World Trade Center.
But like a good soldier, he didn't sell his life cheaply. Death took him only after he had cheated it again, helping to save 2,700 lives by relying on the instincts and the preparation that had served him well in battles on two continents.
Rescorla was a retired Army Reserve colonel and the head of security for Morgan Stanley's Individual Investor Group at the World Trade Center. But many readers will be more familiar with him as Lt. Rick "Hard Core" Rescorla, one of the heroes of the 1965 battle of the Ia Drang Valley in Vietnam.
"Rick was the best combat leader I ever saw in Vietnam," said Pat Payne, the 2nd Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment's reconnaissance platoon leader in Ia Drang.
Featured in book
Rescorla's role in that battle is recounted in detail in the book "We Were Soldiers Once... And Young," a searing account of the action by retired Lt. Gen. Harold "Hal" Moore and Joe Galloway. In 1965, Moore was a battalion commander in the center of the battle, and Galloway was a UPI reporter who covered the entire engagement.
Even those only vaguely familiar with the book have seen Rescorla's image - he is the gaunt soldier on the cover with the 2-day old beard and the bayonet fixed to his M16.
When Rescorla showed up for Basic Training at Benning in 1963, he'd already seen more adventure than most soldiers do in a lifetime. Born in Cornwall, England, he joined the British army's Paratroop Regiment as a teen-ager, then became a military intelligence warrant officer. He served in that position in Cyprus during the violence that wracked that island in the 1950s, then left the British Army for a London police job in Scotland Yard's famous "Flying Squad" of detectives.
He left England for another military job, this time as a commando in the Rhodesian Colonial security force in Africa. From there he came to seek his fortune in the United States.
After breezing through basic training, Rescorla was picked up for Officer Candidate School. Last year he was inducted into the OCS Hall of Fame.
He graduated as a second lieutenant in 1965, just in time to ship out to Vietnam with the 1st Air Cavalry Division. In November of that year, still a British citizen, he would draw on all his youthful experience in the battle of the Ia Drang.
Headed the `Hard Corps'
Ia Drang was the Army's first major battle in Vietnam, and one of its bloodiest. The battle claimed 305 American lives, soldiers who died in fierce combat with a North Vietnamese regiment that also took heavy losses. Rescorla commanded 1st Platoon, B Company, 2nd Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment, and was almost worshipped by his soldiers, who called themselves the "Hard Corps" after his nickname. But his courage and infectious optimism resonated beyond those under his immediate command.
Payne remembers Rescorla "leaping off [a] chopper and strutting into our small very beat-up group of survivors" during the night. After placing his men to fill the gaps in Payne's line and pausing to speak quietly to each soldier, he walked toward Payne.
"I was so amazed to see him walking around because we had all been crawling on our stomachs for eight hours," Payne said. Speaking in a low, confident voice, Rescorla complimented Payne on establishing good fields of fire.
"Then he looked me in the eye and said, `When the sun comes up we are going to kick some ass.' I will never forget his words or the look in his eye. He said it in a confident, matter-of-fact way. He was not boasting, it was resolve."
Rescorla earned a Silver Star for his actions at Ia Drang, and, in Moore's words, "went on to establish himself as a living legend in the 7th Cav in Vietnam."
But behind the swagger and the self-confidence, Rescorla hid a keen intellect, according to Dan Hill, a former captain who met Rescorla at basic and remained his best friend. This fine mind served Rescorla well when he left the Army in the late 1960s and put himself through college and law school, before going on to establish himself as a specialist in security for financial firms.
His will to live came to the fore again three years ago, when he was diagnosed with inoperable cancer and given six months to live. Against the odds, he beat the disease into remission.
As Morgan Stanley's security chief, Rescorla brought his belief in the "seven Ps" - proper prior planning and preparation prevents poor performance - to bear, to the immense good fortune of his co-workers.
Morgan Stanley was the largest tenant in the south tower, with about 2,700 employees in 20 floors. But incredibly, only six, including Rescorla and two security folks who worked for him, still are missing. Everyone else made it out alive.
Obsessed with preparation
Those survivors owe their lives in no small part to Rescorla's quick thinking at a time of crisis, and his obsession with being prepared for every eventuality.
"He'd take every possible contingency that could happen, and he'd come up with a plan for it," Hill said. When the first plane hit the north tower, the Port Authority told workers in the south tower to stay put. But Rescorla disagreed and immediately executed an evacuation plan he had made the employees rehearse twice a year.
The plan worked, and when the second plane hit the south tower, almost all Morgan Stanley employees were on their way to safety. So was Rescorla, who made it to the ground floor, singing "God Bless America" to calm the nerves of the evacuees.
But he insisted on going back upstairs to check for anyone left behind. He was probably still climbing when the building collapsed.
His wife, Susan, and his two children likely will remember Rick Rescorla for his generosity of spirit and his dry English wit.
But middle-aged veterans of a hellish battle long ago in the sun and the elephant grass are more likely to remember Rick Rescorla as Bill Lund, another second lieutenant in that battle, does: "This was the bravest man I ever knew."
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75 of 78 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Realistic, Straight forward Account of Horrendous Battles, March 11, 2005
J. B. Smith "smithjb23" (Raleigh, NC, United States) - See all my reviews
First, let's look at what this book is not: It is not beautifully written, it is not the story of one person's experience and it is not dedicated to character building. If you are looking for those things, then look elsewhere.

Now if you are looking for the smell, the horror, the courage and the sacrifice of the battlefield, then you will find it in this work. Moore and Galloway have written a book that will serve as a textbook for generations of people who want to know what war is really like in a very objective manner - the heroism, the great leadership, poor leadership, mistakes, and occasional cowardice. It pulls no punches and takes people and organizations to task where appropriate. It is truly an amazing work and one that should be read by anyone when a debate on going to war is raging.

The book is in three distinctive parts: The fight on Landing Zone X-Ray; The Fight on Landing Zone Albany; and the aftermath of the battles, for both the US involvement in Viet Nam and some of the families affected by it. Moore was the Battalion Commander at X-Ray and gives a very good view of the decisions he made and why he made them. He is able to walk us through the battle and describe the critical actions by both the North Vietnamese and the US forces that turned the tide of this battle and allowed Moore's force to win a victory. There are many first person accounts of different aspects of the battle given by the US soldiers that fought there and also by some of the key North Vietnam leaders.

The second part of the book was about the relief battalion's retrograde back from LZ X-Ray to LZ Albany. Moore was not here so all of the reporting was done thru interviews after the fact. He is pretty scathing in some of his assesments of the decisions being made - although if you do not have military experience you might not find the writing scathing enough for what happened. He describes the complecency by some of the leadership on the movement back, the failure to set out decent security and the indecisiveness in the early moments of the battle. He also points out the slow flow of information from Albany to the higher levels of the US Forces. Albany was fought to a draw with horrendous losses on both sides after a North Vietnamese battalion and the 2/7 Cav had a meeting engagement (which means they ran into eachother in the woods). One lead company was almost completely slaughtered, save a few people that had to do an E&E (Escape and Evasion) in order to get to safety. The book contains three accounts of men that did that.

The final part of the book looked at the political decisions made in the aftermath of the war using declassified top secret memos written by Sec McNamara to illustrate that he knew very early in the war that it could prove to be unwinnable, putting the odds at a US victory at no better than 1 in 2. Also, there are personal accounts from the widows and the children of some of the men that died in the battles. Since I am in Iraq right now with the Army, and I have a two year old daughter, I found these passages particularily moving.

My only gripe with this book, is that your understaning of it is assisted greatly if you have been in the military. Since I am, it is no problem, but for someone walking in with no experience, a lot of the terminology used and the prose itself will make following the story a little more difficult. It reads almost exactly like an After Action Review, which probably is the proper voice for this piece, but some readers will have problems with it - as evidenced by some of the earlier reviews.

The bottom line - very honest, interesting, work. It will help the reader understand battle, and perhaps understand it a little more than they would like to. Highly recommend.
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63 of 68 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Life is nothing much to lose, but young men think it is ..., July 31, 2000
This outstanding account of the first major battle between American and North Vietnamese forces in the Vietnam War tells in gut-wrenching, eye-watering detail what close combat is all about. Authors Hal Moore and Joseph Galloway (Moore commanded the 1st Sqdn., 7th Cav., one of the two squadrons involved; Galloway was a journalist on the ground with Moore) have prepared a carefully researched, well documented account of U.S. and North Vietnamese actions at Ia Drang Valley in the fall of 1965. Importantly, they have drawn not just on American sources and their own experiences, but on official and personal accounts of their former enemies.
Ia Drang featured the new U.S. battlefield concept of airmobility and the North Vietnamese decided to give battle in a desperate attempt to find out the best way to deal with American helicopters and fire power. When Lt. Col. Moore and the 450 troopers of his 1/7th Cav. air assaulted into a small clearning in the Ia Drang Valley they were immediately surrounded by 2,000 North Vietnamese regulars. The fighting that ensued consumed Moore's squadron. The enemy increased his forces and applied even greater pressure on the Americans, and a sister unit, the 2/7th Cav., was chopped to ribbons. Enemy losses were extraordinarily high ... a price they were willing to pay to learn the lessons that would serve them on future battlefields.
The North Vietnamese did learn. They adjusted their tactics and modernized and increased the number of rocket propelled grenade launchers carried by infantry units. Additional heavy machine guns and anti-aircraft weapons were laboriously brought down the Ho Chi Minh Trail to beef up defenses in future operations. By summer 1970, when a division of North Vietnamese soldiers surrounded airmobile troopers of the 101st Airborne Division at Fire Support Base Ripcord, they were a different enemy.
By 1970 the Vietnam War was a different war as well. In 1965 there was support for the war at home and Moore's men went into Ia Drang to win, and win they did. By 1970 U.S. forces were being withdrawn and the ground war was being turned over to an increasingly capable South Vietnamese military. At home, support for the war effort had waned terribly and political will was lacking. U.S. units increasingly became casualty-shy. Even so, the battle for FSB Ripcord (see Keith Nolan's "Ripcord: Screaming Eagles Under Siege, Vietnam 1970") was as complex and deadly as that at Ia Drang. But in the end, the 1st Cavalry Division held their ground and the 101st did not. A clear sign that the war was, for all practical purposes, over.
Read Moore's and Galloway's book ... give copies to friends and relatives ... it's a classic that will stand the test of time. Then remember the words of A. E. Houseman after the bloody struggles of World War One: "Life is nothing much to lose, but young men think it is ... and we were young."
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27 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars War Up Close and Personal, October 3, 2000
Moore has done a great service to those interested in the war in Vietnam as well as those who have not experienced the horror of combat first hand.
This book about a relatively large scale U.S. Infantry operation in the Ia Drang Valley is very well written. The author tells the story of his unit's fight and subsequent movement well. So well, that it is possible to visualize the battle, the defensive perimiter and keep the individual soldiers -- whose story it is -- straight. Not only is the tale of the battle well told, but the fears and uncertainty faced by cut off troops who could not see their enemy and knew they had to hold their perimiter is brought home to the reader. This story has plenty of heroics, but also a lot of fear, anger and luck.
The story also underscores the problem with U.S. strategy in Vietnam. Unlike World War II, our troops were not driving across the country to hold land and capture territory. Many missions, like Moore's, were designed to find and harass a jungle hid enemy, inflict casualties and then retreat to a well protected base. That type of war without gain must have played heavily on the minds of the soldiers who could not measure their sacrifice in ground gained or villages freed, measurements their fathers and uncles had been able to see in their great war.
This is a good book. Moore's US infantry are very sympathetic (the chopper pilots merrit special mention from the author), doing a hard job and doing it well. It reads quickly and is captured my attention from the outset.
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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars DAVID AND GOLIATH - FEAR AND LEARNING IN THE IA DRANG, July 9, 1998
As an Infantry Lieutenant who flew helicopters in Viet Nam and a student of military history for the past forty years I found 'We Were Soldiers Once and Young" to be a fascinating read. It is really two books that run concurrently.The first is about the leadership of a small outgunned army of citizen soldiers who were tryng to figure out a way to win against the big guy. This they learned in the Ia Drang and, given that there would be no change in U.S. strategy to negate the knowledge the NVA acquired from this battle the Viet Nam War was effectively lost at that point for the U.S.
The second is as close as you can get to that dirt in the face, taste of terror in your mouth, please God let me live through this, feeling that all soldiers experience in battle without your having to endure the actual thing. So engrossing was this part of the book that, although I already knew the outcome, I found myself trying to will some of the indivdual participants in this battle to a different conclusion than the one that was already written for them.
This book is an engrossing piece of living history and I highly recommend it.Yes, war is hell and a tragedy almost beyond comprehension. Commanders make mistakes that lose them. all men are not heroes and not everybody remembers things the same way but for those who of you who know a Viet Nam Era grunt who humped the boonies and you have wondered why he is different from everybody else this book will help you understand. For those who want some insight into what happened in Viet Nam and why we lost that war this book will answer some of those questions. For those interested in only a gut-wrenching account of ground combat this book will give it to you with nothing held back. I think we all should read it, and maybe again.
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38 of 41 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Terrific Tale of Vietnam, January 6, 2000
Had war planners in Washington D.C. experienced what Lieutenant Colonel Harold Moore saw in his first weeks of combat in 1965 the tragedy of America's involvement in the Vietnam War might well have been avoided. In the fall of 1965 Moore's 1st Battalion of the 7th Cavalry Regiment engaged North Vietnamese soldiers at Ia Drang.
The Battle for Ia Drang showed for the first time the steep cost American soldiers would pay in their engagements with the vietnamese communists and set into play a frustrating pattern that would persist until the end of the war- American units would inflict heavy casualties upon the communist forces, but the enemy would simply slip away into the underbrush, leaving behind nothing but dead Americans and an empty jungle.
"We Were Soldiers Once . . . And Young" is Moore and reporter Joseph Galloway's account of the 1st Cavalry Division's initial deployment to Vietnam and America's first combat actions with the North Vietnamese Army. The lessons Moore learned at Ia Drang showed just how difficult victory in Southeast Asia would be for American forces. The lessons learned by Moore and his troops would have served American decision-makers well.
"We Were Soldiers Once . . . And Young" is both a terrifically exciting narrative about the Battle of Ia Drang, and a cautionary tale about the clash between strategic planning and the tactical realities of warfare. Unrealistic assumptions can lead to tragic results. Good work.
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27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I was a Reviewer Once... And Young, June 9, 2006
Even though part of the title reads more like an afterthought, I had a lot of thoughts about this book since I read it a few years ago, and none of them were second thoughts.

This book is about daring and superb leadership. If there had been anyone other than LTC Hal Moore running his battalion, it most assuredly would have been been overrun in the first major battle of the Vietnam War between North Vietnamese (NVA) and Americans. This was also a story about poor leadership because the book tells about a follow-up battle at Landing Zone (LZ) Albany where the North Vietnamese launch a horrific ambush against another American battalion led by an inexperienced and ineffective commander. The difference provides a sharp contrast of consequences between battalions, and the role of leadership in battle. After this ambush the NVA walk among the wounded GI's during the night executing them while they are calling for mercy or their mothers. The story briefly mentions Spec 4 Howard K. Smith Jr. the nightly news reporter and son of Howard K. Smith, who pretended to be dead in the elephant grass, and survived. Incidentally, poor leadership continued in Vietnam as officers kept changing commands to get their "tickets punched." By the time they were beginning to lead effectively, it was time to turn command over to someone else. Hal Moore kept his command protesting the practice, but eventually had to relinquish command to the policy of the day.

The Battle of the Ia Drang pits two highly skilled leaders against each other. Moore's tactical skill enables him to predict where and when the NVA commander will strike at every turn. As a result, his unit decimates the North Vietnamese division they landed right next to.

Moore is able to make you feel the excitement from the very beginning, before they leave for Vietnam. Reading about the battle, you actually feel what it is like to be hungry, thirsty, out of ammunition, or wondering if your wounds will be treated. You feel comfortable with a commander who promises that he will leave no man behind, and will be the last to leave the field of battle.

Equally interesting, is what the author added at the end of the book, a "Where are they today?" part. It is nice to know what eventually happened to all of them who fought this horrific battle and cheated death.

This is primarily a man's story. It is probably even more important for those who served, maybe more so for those who served in Vietnam. But for anyone, especially for those who may think battle is glamorous or glorious, it is a story worth reading.

It was a fight for survival.
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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of The Best Combat Books, October 2, 2002
I must say that I saw this movie before I read the book. I was concerned that the first 20 - 30% of the book would be similar to the movie with a review of the soldiers family lives, life on the base, the creation of the unit, and the training. Not that this information is not interesting, but this book was held out as one of the better books on Vietnam combat, not base life descriptions. I turned out to be pleased with the book in that it started out with action and never stopped. I have read a number of books about combat and this one was one of the best I have read - ranking up there with Back Hawk Down. From page 1 to the end there are no slow spots in the book, it is full speed the whole way.
The book tells the story of two different, but related battles that took place in 1965. They were the first major battles of the American effort in the war and they were some of the hardest fought. The author interviewed what seams like almost everybody that made it out for the book, and he lets the soldiers use their own words so that you get a full picture of each section of the battle. It is interesting to see how two or three different people in different locations viewed / remembered the same situations. The one draw back to this form of story telling is that there is not a consistent author's style. This is a minor point because Harold Moore did a wonderful job in telling the story and placing the other solders statements in the text. Overall it is a great book that anyone interested in combat or the Vietnam War will need to read.
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We Were Soldiers Once...and Young: Ia Drang - The Battle That Changed the War in Vietnam
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