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Our War the History and Sacrifices of an Infantry Battalion in the Vietnam War Hardcover – June 22, 2011
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Our War is a detailed, comprehensive and superbly researched tribute to all we endured as members of the 5th/46th Infantry Battalion --Tim O'Brien - National Book Award winner and Pulitzer Prize nominee
Our War is an unparalleled tribute to the tremendous sacrifices and toll exacted on one combat battalion in the Vietnam War. In graphic detail, author David Taylor goes beyond describing day-to-day operations of three years of combat. His work details how scores of Purple Hearts were earned, sometimes as a result of leadership shortcomings, often in tandem with tremendous acts of heroism. This book is a stellar tribute to an infantry battalion at war and a unique record of its service. --John Roos - Former Editor, Armed Forces Journal
David Taylor in Our War has done the unimaginable, covering the entire history of a battalion in the Vietnam War at the grass level, not with excerpts from field reports, but by reliving its history day by day with the soldiers who fought in it. It is the best detailed book about the Vietnam War that I've read and I've read a barn-full, plus writing two books myself! --Chuck Carlock - Author of the best selling Firebirds and co-author of Rattlers and Firebirds
About the Author
David W. Taylor served with the 5th/46th Infantry Battalion that he chronicles in Our War as a platoon leader in 1969. He was wounded twice and was awarded a Silver Star for Valor. Taylor retired as a Colonel in the Special Forces, U.S. Army Reserve. Taylor has written numerous articles about the Vietnam War and World War II for national publications and has lectured about the Vietnam War at the college level. He is a member of the Military Writers Society of America. Our War is his first book.
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OVERVIEW: Most Vietnam War books are either memoirs or general histories covering the entire conflict. David W. Taylor has written a comprehensive story of an army infantry battalion's involvement in the war. The 5th Battalion, 46th Infantry Regiment, part of the Americal Division, served in Vietnam from 1968 to 1971.
BEST: The best part of this book was the personal stories collected by the author. Statistics such as 175 killed in action are dry, but stories such as the soldier, spending his first night in the bush, firing his rifle at a person moving in the darkness is heart breaking. The person turns out to be a fellow squad member who slowly dies. Due to weather conditions, it takes three days for the soldier and the remains of the squad member to be evacuated from the field. The individual stories range from humorous to heroic and from front line combat to rear area racial and drug problems.
Some officers and enlisted men served well, but others "fell on their sword" and messed up badly. This book tells it all with no Hollywood gloss. One can feel the heat, sweat, pain, and blood of combat. Weapons, tactics, and terrain are clearly explained for anyone unfamiliar with the war.
The 5/46th Infantry operated in Batangan Peninsula, the most mined area in Vietnam. Many legs were lost to the invisible enemy. However, the battalion gave better than it lost with many fresh enemy graves discovered after each battle. The battalion arrived after the My Lai Massacre, but operated in the same area. "Our War" does try to explain or justify My Lai, but it does show the deadly mine filled environment of My Lai.
WORST: The book has more than its share of numerical unit designations, Vietnamese place names, statistics and data that one has to plow through to get to the good parts of the book. I found the many maps somewhat hard to read, but the pictures were outstanding. "Our War" touched on rear area problems and the lives of the veterans after they came home, but I was left wanting more details.
CONCLUSION: This book is a must read for anyone who served or supported the 5/46th or is interested in the flow of battle at the infantry battalion level. David Taylor spent eight years writing "Our War", served in the 5/46th, was wounded, was awarded the Silver Star for valor, and retired from the army as a colonel. He also returned to Vietnam 28 years after the war. The book is dedicated to all who served in the 5/46th and to Sergeant Randy Backovich who saved Taylor's life.