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Incident at Muc Wa Paperback – August 20, 2012
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"A superb book about the opening moments of the Vietnam War. Daniel Ford was there and he saw what was happening and he wrote about it. Eloquently. Efficiently. Stylishly."--Curled Up With a Good Book
"A fine novel. Recommended."--Library Journal
From the Author
In 1964 I took a few months' leave from my job as an editor in a university publications office, and I bought a ticket to Saigon, to see for myself what was going on there. (Oh, okay, and also to get material for a book if I could. I had visions of becoming the Ernie Pyle of Vietnam, not knowing that Mr. Pyle had been killed by a sniper on a jungle trail.) I hitchhiked all over the country on military aircraft, but the unforgettable event was the trek to a village called Tan Hoa, pronounced tan wa. We were supposed to evacuate the residents so the area could become a free-fire zone. But when we reached Tan Hoa after three days of minor league skirmishing and pillage, we found it empty except for a few fighting holes and some splendid French graves, relicts of the first Indochina War.
That operation continued to bug me after I was home in New Hampshire that fall. What would have happened, I wondered, if instead of merely evacuating the village, we'd been sent to garrison it? So I renamed the place Muc Wa (picture Jack Kennedy saying "muck war") and gave it a garrison of U.S. Army Raiders (a simplified version of Special Forces) and Montagnard tribesmen. What would happen? Well, obviously the Viet Cong would attack. Then what? The Americans would reinforce. And then? Well, obviously the Viet Cong would move a reinforced battalion into the area. And then....
Incident at Muc Wa was published in hardcover, in paperback, and in Dutch and British editions. Then it was made into a splendid movie with Burt Lancaster, Mark Singer, and Craig Wasson: Go Tell the Spartans. (When the young American corporal first sees the graves at Muc Wa, he thinks of Simonides's epitaph to the Spartans who died at Thermopylae: "Go, stranger, and tell the Spartans that we lie here in obedience to their laws.") I am delighted that the story continues to be available, thanks to print-on-demand and digital published. Blue skies! -- Dan Ford
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Brian Reiss,1LT,121 Asslt. Helicopter Co., Viking Gunships.
The novel moves quickly and flows nicely. The characters are strong. You find yourself somehow inside Corporal Courcey's head and laughing at Captain Olivetti's obsession with his CIB, his combat infantry badge. The role of Major Barker in the book is much less central than it is in the movie. But then, Burt Lancaster played the ... out of Major Barker in the film, so they may have made certain adjustments for the star.
There is a sadness and fatalism about the book that may bother some. However, the topic is not exactly uplifting. On the whole, a worthwhile and enjoyable read.