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The Village Mass Market Paperback – January 1, 2003
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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
Top Customer Reviews
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 ›
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
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
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Let's just say that Mr. Bing West know his subject matter, and he writes with a style that is easy to enjoy. Read morePublished 8 months ago by Eddie Wannabee
Very interesting read. I grew up during the 60's - born 1957, and wanted to understand what it was like to be in Vietnam. Read morePublished 9 months ago by Scholar
Great view of the war at the village pacification level where all issues are local.Published 9 months ago by El Azote
Amazing perspective of the little-known Combined Action Units of the Vietnam War. Makes you think of what outcome could have manifested should all US commanders had implemented... Read morePublished 12 months ago by Jeremy S
This book mentioned my brother in it neromus times, Franklin Lummis, I really enjoyed it. Thanks Bing West.Published 12 months ago by Stormie Lummus