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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.
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
I particularly appreciated the authors' decision to include both the thoughts of four of the enemy Vietnamese officers, and also of several of the wives and children of soldiers who died. The book doesn't try to justify the Vietnam War, but rather shows that the soldiers who fought that war deserve our respect and gratitude. It is a superb book.
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.