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We Were Soldiers Once...And Young: Ia Drang The Battle That Changed the War in Vietnam Hardcover – October 20, 1992
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In the first significant engagement between American troops and the Viet Cong, 450 U.S. soldiers found themselves surrounded and outnumbered by their enemy. This book tells the story of how they battled between October 23 and November 26, 1965. Its prose is gritty, not artful, delivering a powerful punch of here-and-now descriptions that could only have been written by people actually on the scene. In fact, they were: Harold Moore commanded the men of the 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry, who did most of the fighting, and Joseph Galloway was the only reporter present throughout the battle's 34 harrowing days. We Were Soldiers Once... combines their memories with more than 100 in-depth interviews with survivors on both sides. The Battle of Ia Drang also highlights a technological advance that would play an enormous role in the rest of the war: this was perhaps the first place where helicopter-based, air-mobile operations demonstrated their combat potential. At bottom, however, this is a tale of heroes and heroism, some acts writ large, others probably forgotten but for this telling. It was a bestseller when first published, and remains one of the better books available on combat during the Vietnam War. --John J. Miller --This text refers to the Mass Market Paperback edition.
From Publishers Weekly
On Nov. 14, 1965, the 1st Battalion of the 7th Cavalry, commanded by Lt. Col. Moore and accompanied by UPI reporter Galloway, helicoptered into Vietnam's remote Ia Drang Valley and found itself surrounded by a numerically superior force of North Vietnamese regulars. Moore and Galloway here offer a detailed account, based on interviews with participants and on their own recollections, of what happened during the four-day battle. Much more than a conventional battle study, the book is a frank record of the emotional reactions of the GIs to the terror and horror of this violent and bloody encounter. Both sides claimed victory, the U.S. calling it a validation of the newly developed doctrine of airmobile warfare. Supplemented with maps, the memoir is a vivid re-creation of the first major ground battle of the Vietnam War. Photos.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Top customer reviews
I avoided this stupid war due to a back injury as a kid. Friends were not so lucky, and returned with a different view of life. Good? Bad? Stressed for sure. This wonderful narrative of America's wake up call battle totally absorbed me. A larger set of battle maps, or maps that could be enlarged would have helped, but at the end of the book, the picture was so well painted in my mind that they visual aids were unnecessary.
The complete picture was provided by Col. Hal Moore, from training of our airmobile troops through battle post mortum with interviews of top NVA commanders and high level LBJ cohorts.
At the end of the day, I was right when I protested the war at the Oakland induction center. McNamera gave the US a 1:3 chance of success in memos to LBJ. But the soldiers! Wow, how proud I am of our troops and their officers. Great book.
This book explains U.S. military tactics deemed appropriate in other wars but sorely inadequate in the field of Vietnam. Outstanding combat history!
If the political leaders- Johnson and McNamara among others- had not been so timid and concerned more about public relations than their troops and had alowed US units to follow and defeat in total the PAVN wherever it was, there can't be any doubt of a much swifter resolution to the war and saved many US toops from death and life long injuries. Instead, the war lasted another seven years with thousands of deaths and injuries.
In the end the thing Johnson and his cohorts feared most- the loss of public support for them and the war - did happen and on a much greater scale than they feared. To me that is one the greatest ironies of their failed strategy.
If you've watched the movie, you will not be disappointed by reading the book.
I usually complain about a book's execess verbiage. And there is plenty of that here. We are bombarded with names, ranks, and home units but somehow it doesn't detract from the story, which is one of heartbreak, courage, and adversity. I got swept up in the story so much so that when, at the end of the book in an Appendix entitled "Where have all the young men gone?", a "favorite" of mine is killed after the battles. I was unpleasantly suprised.
If the only things you know about the battles in the Ia Drang valley is from Mel Gibson's movie you are in for a suprise. The 2nd of the 2 major fights is not in the movie but it is in the book. and I defy anyone reading it to not to get angry over the bumbling incompetency, "friendly" fire deaths and injuries of soldiers caught in a life or death ambush.
Together the two halves of the story come together and you will get angry over Vietnam one more time.