- Paperback: 496 pages
- Publisher: Paladin Press (January 1, 2000)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1581605978
- ISBN-13: 978-1581605976
- Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 1.1 x 10.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 3.6 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 48 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #196,967 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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SOG: A Photo History Of The Secret Wars
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About the Author
John L. Plaster served three tours in the top-secret unconventional warfare group, Studies and Observations Group, in Vietnam. As a long-range reconnaissance leader, he led tiny intelligence-gathering teams behind enemy lines in Laos and Cambodia before leaving SOG in late 1971. He was decorated for heroism four times and retired from the U.S. Army as a major.
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The writing is superb. This is not an "All about Me" book.
These giants don't talk much (even in a "safe bar") about their excursions across the battlefield, but Plaster has told their story again, even better than before. The photographs add a depth and detail that is nothing short of stunning. What he has given us is a big family album of the hardest of the hardcore SF community. This book gives you an idea of what kind of stress the experience of long-term direct combat with a skillful enemy is actually like, something no American units have encountered for nearly two decades.
US Army Special Forces is a different kind of place today, and still a home for giants. But there was something about the pressure-cooker of Southeast Asia that filtered and distilled the very best qualities of the American soldier and turned him loose with lethal effect on the NVA and VC. They were ultimately betrayed by their chain of command, but before they were pulled out, they became the stuff of legend. John Plaster has preserved that legend twice, and this photo history is a wonderful contribution to the history of these amazing men and their accomplishments.
Less a book of stories that a chapter by chapter discussion of equipment used, aircraft involved, specialized helicopter units. Expensive book but excellent photographs and the author's extensive knowledge of the SOG era. For those who like this, I highly recommend Plaster's book 'SOG'.
The author was a member of this group and has set out to detail its history despite the best efforts of the authorities. Many photographs were kept privately contrary to orders and they form the backbone of this book. The author provides the meat through his own knowledge and interviews with other surviving members. The group was comprised mainly of Green Berets Special Forces and their Montangyard allies. Their primary role was surveillance on the Ho Chi Minh trail. Once they had located North Vietnamese supplies moving southwards they called in air strikes.
However a consequence of this role was that small groups of them were in enemy territory surrounded by large groups of Vietnamese regular troops whose orders were to find and eradicate them. The casualty rates were high with a large number of them still listed as Missing in Action. Apart from surveillance the SOG were also responsible for retrieving downed airmen and the attempted PoW rescue at Son Tay. The author also strongly maintains that many of the groups missions were betrayed by a Vietnamese official in the groups command centre. This, the author maintains, was the reason behind the large casualty lists.
The book is published through Paladin Press and this is the source of its biggest problem. Paladin Press publishes manuscripts without much prior editing and editing is what is required. This would have helped the layout of the book and to better present its contents which is somewhat haphazard. Another fault is that the author is obviously, and rightly, proud of the group's achievements but the book would have benefited from a more critical appraisal and a more detailed review of their effectiveness.
Despite these shortcomings the book is a worth addition to the library on the Vietnam war and highlights the incredible bravery of the group whose actions deserve a wider audience.