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The Village Mass Market Paperback – January 1, 2003

4.7 out of 5 stars 102 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


The Washington Post A minor classic about war.

The New York Times A vivid and unbiased portrait of one Vietnamese hamlet in the grip of war...Exceptional insight....West has told this story with honesty and without embroidery, while bringing out its inherent human drama.

Charles B. MacDonald Author of Company Commander Unquestionably the best book to come out of the Vietnam war -- human, compassionate, suspenseful, dramatic.

Peter Braestrup Author of Tet A superbly honest, readable work that goes beyond journalism to become good literature.

Washington Post Book Review This is the way Vietnam should have been fought -- by tough volunteers who lived alongside the Vietnamese....It will take the sternest idealogue to remain unmoved by West's perceptive and human treatment of the men who fought it....It's an account of brave men at war in a far country, honestly told.

Keith William Nolan Author of The Battle for Saigon and A Hundred Miles of Bad Road One of the small handful of truly great books to come out of the Vietnam war.

Pacific Affairs Pure Hemingway in the best sense of that characterization....West brilliantly portrays the drama of a war few Americans have known.

Leatherneck Magazine A fantastic, down in the mud and crud book of enlisted Marines fighting to defend a village....West tells of some of the victories and the tragic cost. And he tells it well.

About the Author

Francis J. "Bing" West served in Vietnam as a Marine infantry officer, and later as Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs, Dean of Research at the Naval War College, an analyst at the RAND Corporation, and a lead CNN commentator during Desert Storm. He is currently president of the GAMA Corporation. A frequent contributor to defense journals, West is also the author of Small Unit Action in Vietnam, and Naval Forces and National Security. His new novel, The Pepperdogs, is available from Simon & Schuster. Visit his Web site at www.westwrite.com

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Pocket Books; 58467th edition (January 1, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743457579
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743457576
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 1.3 x 6.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (102 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #54,776 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Newt Gingrich THE on January 14, 2004
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Anyone interested in understanding the challenges of security in Iraq and Afghanistan would do well to read Bing West's "The Village." This is the classic study of small unit anti-guerrilla activity in Vietnam.

The Marines had a model of intervention built around their justly famous Small Wars Manual (originally written with considerable help from the Army based on its Philippines experience from 1898-1913). Where General Westmoreland and the senior Army favored large units sweeping across areas and hunting for large Vietcong forces, the Marines had developed a small unit action program, which was uniquely effective.

"The Village" is about one squad of Marines in Binh Nghia village (actually a collection of villages numbering about 6,000 people.) As Bing West notes, "This is the story of fifteen Marines who lived and fought for two years inside a Vietnamese village. There was shooting almost every night: from across the river a seasoned Viet Cong battalion attacked repeatedly. In the village, the South Vietnamese farmers planted rice during the day and after dusk patrolled with the Marines....at the height of the Vietnam War a dozen U.S. Marines did live in the village and were generally accepted by 6,000 Vietnamese farmers."
West was sent by the Marine Corps to study this process in 1966. He writes, this is "what war is like when you fight guerrillas, and of how Americans behaved when they volunteered to fight among the people. It was a bloody and intensely personal war." West went back to the village in 2002 and has a new closing chapter on the memories of Americans that remain despite a generation of Communist dictatorship.
Read more ›
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
This is a wonderful book. It tells the story of 15 marines assigned
to defend a hamlet, working with about the same number of Popular Force
militiamen. Of that original band, 7 are killed in the first half of
the book, most of them in a single firefight when their "fort" is
over-run. (The PFs suffer losses at roughly the same rate.) But
they love the work, get along fine with the villagers, and exact an
even higher toll on the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese units sent
against them.
Bing West is a gifted writer. Here he is, describing a
marine with a fifty-caliber machine gun:
"The drunken soldier was set now, having leaned his body over the
rear of the gun and swung the heavy barrel upward. It wavered around
the fort and then slowly swung out toward the paddies, like a compass
needle coming to rest. Then came the solid, belting jackhammer sound
of the weapon firing and the thick incendiary slugs, big as cigars,
burned out over the paddies."
He also knows what he's writing about: West was a platoon leader
in Vietnam; he visited the village often, and he led some of the
patrols he describes, though mostly the book is based on interviews
with the men of the combined-action squad.
Later, West was an assistant secretary of defense in the Reagan
administration. He wrote the superlative account of the 2003 Iraq
War, "The March Up", which is what led me
to this book. I'm glad I had the chance to discover it, and I
recommend it without reservation. -- Dan Ford
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Format: Paperback
This book tells the story of a village and the marines and militia who defended it during the Vietnam War. It is filled with first hand accounts of fast paced fire-fights and battalion-sized battles. The action is riveting, and the story is endearing and heart-wrenching. A squad of marines and platoon of PF militia men fight night-after-night against local guerillas, and at times, VC main force battalions. The Americans become members of the village, eat in families' homes, play with their children, attend weddings, funerals, and holiday festivities. Their emotional ties hearten them, motivate them, and ultimately betray them.
The book was written by Francis J. West, a marine officer and RAND Corporation researcher sent to the village in the late 1960's to study its marine defenders. The marine squad -- seldom numbering more than a dozen -- was known throughout the Marine Corps. It encountered communist units more often than any other unit in the Corps; its members often fought twenty to thirty engagements a month, more than most U.S. battalions.
I've recommended this book to several men in the military, including my brother, a captian in the 10th SF group. All of them, in turn, recommended it to their friends, commanders, and subordinates.
"The Village" is as good as "Bravo Two Zero," "A Bright Shining Lie," and "We Were Soldiers Once, and Young." You won't put this book down until you're finished, and then, you'll read it again and again and give copies to your friends for Christmas.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
"This is the story of a handful of Americans and Vietnamese who lived and fought together in a Vietnamese village. It is not a political book or a critique of national policy.... /// The story is not typical of military operations in Vietnam. Less than one percent of American forces there were employed in the [combined] fashion described in this book. Nor was the combat typical. Throughout Vietnam, one out of four hundred night patrols in the populated areas made contact; in this village, it was one out of every two." (p. xv) (Captain F. J. West, USMCR; from the preface to The Village) /// The Combined Action Program was an unconventional approach to pacification conceived by the Marine Corps and unique to the Vietnam War. Marine infantry squads (10-14 men) integrated with local militia units ("Popular Forces" or PFs) at the village and hamlet level in South Vietnam. Theoretically, the employment of the Marines in this fashion would increase the effectiveness of the PFs and gain the confidence of the Vietnamese by demonstrating a long-term commitment to their security. III Marine Amphibious Force first experimented with combined action in 1965. The experiment yielded positive results. Thus, the Combined Action Program was formally established and centered on the combined action platoon (CAP)-the Program's basic tactical unit. By 1970, more than 1,700 Marines, 100 Navy corpsmen and 3,000 PFs formed 113 CAPs in 102 villages throughout I Corps. This book tells the story of one such CAP stationed in the village of Binh Nghia. /// Binh Nghia was located in a highly contested area south of Chu Lai in Quang Ngai Province. Prior to the arrival of the Marines in 1966, the Viet Cong owned Binh Nghia-controlling five of the village's seven hamlets.Read more ›
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