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We Were Soldiers Once... and Young: Ia Drang--The Battle That Changed the War in Vietnam Paperback – November 17, 1993


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 528 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial (November 17, 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060975768
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060975760
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.3 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (543 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #676,897 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

In the first significant engagement between American troops and the Viet Cong, 450 U.S. soldiers found themselves surrounded and outnumbered by their enemy. This book tells the story of how they battled between October 23 and November 26, 1965. Its prose is gritty, not artful, delivering a powerful punch of here-and-now descriptions that could only have been written by people actually on the scene. In fact, they were: Harold Moore commanded the men of the 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry, who did most of the fighting, and Joseph Galloway was the only reporter present throughout the battle's 34 harrowing days. We Were Soldiers Once... combines their memories with more than 100 in-depth interviews with survivors on both sides. The Battle of Ia Drang also highlights a technological advance that would play an enormous role in the rest of the war: this was perhaps the first place where helicopter-based, air-mobile operations demonstrated their combat potential. At bottom, however, this is a tale of heroes and heroism, some acts writ large, others probably forgotten but for this telling. It was a bestseller when first published, and remains one of the better books available on combat during the Vietnam War. --John J. Miller

From Publishers Weekly

On Nov. 14, 1965, the 1st Battalion of the 7th Cavalry, commanded by Lt. Col. Moore and accompanied by UPI reporter Galloway, helicoptered into Vietnam's remote Ia Drang Valley and found itself surrounded by a numerically superior force of North Vietnamese regulars. Moore and Galloway here offer a detailed account, based on interviews with participants and on their own recollections, of what happened during the four-day battle. Much more than a conventional battle study, the book is a frank record of the emotional reactions of the GIs to the terror and horror of this violent and bloody encounter. Both sides claimed victory, the U.S. calling it a validation of the newly developed doctrine of airmobile warfare. Supplemented with maps, the memoir is a vivid re-creation of the first major ground battle of the Vietnam War. Photos.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

It is a very emotional book and one worth reading.
larcomb.1@osu.edu
It will help the reader understand battle, and perhaps understand it a little more than they would like to.
J. B. Smith
I had seen the Mel Gibson movie before I read the book.
Chris Hickey

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

509 of 510 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on March 20, 2001
Format: Paperback
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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264 of 267 people found the following review helpful By headbutler on February 21, 2002
Format: Mass Market Paperback
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.
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104 of 106 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 4, 2001
Format: Paperback
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.
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72 of 75 people found the following review helpful By J. B. Smith on March 11, 2005
Format: Mass Market Paperback
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.
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