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We Were Soldiers Once...and Young: Ia Drang - The Battle That Changed the War in Vietnam Mass Market Paperback – June 29, 2004
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“A GUT-WRENCHING ACCOUNT OF WHAT WAR IS REALLY ALL ABOUT, which should be ‘must’ reading for all Americans, especially those who have been led to believe that war is some kind of Nintendo game.”
–GENERAL H. NORMAN SCHWARZKOPF
“Hal Moore and Joe Galloway have captured the terror and exhilaration, the comradeship and self-sacrifice, the brutality and compassion that are the dark heart of war.”
–NEIL SHEEHAN, author of A Bright Shining Lie
“A powerful and epic story . . . This is the best account of infantry combat I have ever read, and the most significant book to come out of the Vietnam War.”
–COLONEL DAVID HACKWORTH, author of the bestseller About Face
From the Trade Paperback edition.
From the Inside Flap
Each year, the Commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps selects one book that he believes is both relevant and timeless for reading by all Marines. The Commandant's choice for 1993 was We Were Soldiers Once . . . and Young."
In November 1965, some 450 men of the 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry, under the command of Lt. Col. Hal Moore, were dropped by helicopter into a small clearing in the Ia Drang Valley. They were immediately surrounded by 2,000 North Vietnamese soldiers. Three days later, only two and a half miles away, a sister battalion was chopped to pieces. Together, these actions at the landing zones X-Ray and Albany constituted one of the most savage and significant battles of the Vietnam War.
How these men persevered--sacrificed themselves for their comrades and never gave up--makes a vivid portrait of war at its most inspiring and devastating. General Moore and Joseph Galloway, the only journalist on the ground throughout the fighting, have interviewed hundreds of men who fought there, including the North Vietnamese commanders. This devastating account rises above the specific ordeal it chronicles to present a picture of men facing the ultimate challenge, dealing with it in ways they would have found unimaginable only a few hours earlier. It reveals to us, as rarely before, man's most heroic and horrendous endeavor.
"From the Hardcover edition.
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Moore's love of his men and his competence as a commander are evident throughout the book. He was the type of man you'd want to follow or that you'd ask for your son to follow. Its truly a book to be recommended for anyone with interest in this subject.
One additional item - the Mel Gibson movie of the same name does not do justice to the book or what actually occurred.
It is hard to capture just how powerful and moving Hal Moore's account of the battle in the Ia Drang valley is. While I have read countless books about various wars in my life, none have moved me quite in the same way that this book did.
Part of this is due to the way it is written. Rather than being a character-driven narrative that reads almost like a novel, like Stephen Ambrose's books, "We Were Soldiers" is a painstaking, minute-by-minute, person-by-person account of the battle. For those n to aware, Hal Moore commanded the American troops at LZ X-Ray, and his care and love for his mean shines through in the most subtle, but meaningful ways. Whenever he mentions a casualty, he includes as much as he can to bring that person to life - a note on their birthday, a mention of their family at home, and so on. Moreover, at the end of the book, he lists every man in his battalion, and updates on where they are today (at time of publishing).
It is almost clinical in its level of detail, but that makes it all the more moving. You begin to understand the sheer scale and human cost of this battle, on both sides. Moreover, Moore takes plenty of time to contextualize the battle, both before and after: why it happened, what it meant, and the ramifications for the Army, United States, and individual families. And it is not a one-sided picture, as Moore and Galloway (his co-author, and reporter who was in the Ia Drang) has included details from his interviews with the North Vietnamese commanders.
The importance of the Ia Drang campaign should not be forgotten given its importance in history, nor should the many brave men who perished fighting there. Moore and Galloway deserve infinite appreciation for telling this important story. Make sure to read it.
After reading this account, which includes the battle at LZ XRAY, and then the terrible ambush at LZ Albany, it is difficult to believe that any military planners thought this war could be won; America did not have the stomach for a war of attrition with the North Vietnamese, and one of the signs was the heavy casualties taken by American troops in the Ia Drang Valley. We won both engagements, but this paradigm was not sustainable.
This book is strongly written, detailed, and packs a powerful punch. If you want to see the pivot point of the war in Vietnam unfold before you, read this book.