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Book List




21 October 1998



By one author's count more than 5,000 books have been written dealing with our involvement in Southeast Asia, that is North and South Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, and the South China Sea. This list is an attempt to guide readers to a manageable number and variety of balanced and accurate materials concerning the topic. America's involvement in Vietnam was an important event in history with its economic, strategic, and societal impacts continuing to the turn of the 21st century and beyond. The political impact was the most divisive event since the Civil War one hundred years earlier. Vietnam has profoundly altered United States foreign and defense policies for more than a generation. Much bitterness from this conflict remains in our society three decades later.

This list is intended for usage as a reading list by those interested in learning more concerning the war in Southeast Asia.

Reasonable attempts have been made to ensure that information regarding the materials listed (e.g., publisher, date, etc.) is accurate. The inclusion of the materials in the list and the summaries of the materials are solely at the discretion of and the opinions of individuals contributing to this list. The materials are grouped (roughly) by topic in the list.

The materials in this list point out some of the facts of the war instead of perpetuating some of the commonly held myths. The books also provide an idea of the scale of the conflict. North Vietnamese General Vo Nguyen Giap, victor over the French at Dien Bien Phu, admitted in an interview in 1969 that just for the period between 1964 and 1968 the North had more than 500,000 soldiers killed in battle. It is estimated that the North Vietnamese suffered a casualty rate during this Indo-Chinese War twice that of the fanatical Japanese military in World War II. More than 2,500,000 American men and women served in Vietnam between 1945 and 1975, mainly between mid-1965 and mid-1971 during large scale U.S. unit ground combat activity. More than 58,000 Americans died there and perhaps as many as 250,000 would have died there had not many, many advances been made in medical science and had casualty evacuation procedures by helicopter not been developed.  

At the height of the war, the Army had almost as many soldiers serving in Vietnam as are on active duty in the entire Army worldwide in 1998. The Marine Corps had 2 divisions, 2 regiments, and several FMF battalion landing teams engaged. Examples of the scale of combat for U.S. forces are instructive.

During World War II the Army's 1st Cavalry Division fought in the Pacific in New Guinea, in the Bismarck Archipeligo, and in the Philippines at Leyte and Luzon Islands. It fought in Korea against the North Koreans along the Naktong River and the Chinese in the Ch'ongch'on bridgehead. The 1st Cavalry Division suffered 50% more casualties in Vietnam than it did in World War II and Korea combined. The Army's 1st Infantry Division in World War II spearheaded amphibious landings in Algeria, French Morocco, Sicily, and Omaha Beach in Normandy. The 1st Infantry then fought across northern Europe. It suffered more casualties in Vietnam than it did in World War II. In World War II the Army's 101st Airborne Division parachuted into Normandy, parachuted into Holland, and held at Bastogne during the Battle of the Bulge. The 101st Airborne Division suffered twice as many casualties in Vietnam as it did in World War II.

Fighting in Vietnam was intense for the Marines also. In World War II the Marines were identified with courage and heroism for their bloody amphibious battles in the Pacific including Guadalcanal, Tarawa, the Marianas, Iwo Jima, and Okinawa. In Korea the Marines fought with distinction in their landing at Inchon and their battle against the Chinese at the Changjin Reservoir. In Vietnam the Marine's had less than half as many units as participated in World War II. In Vietnam the Marines were led by senior NCO's, field grade officers, and general officers who had fought in World War II and/or Korea. In Vietnam, Marine units suffered a casualty rate greater than the U.S. Marine Corps in World War II.

Many people refer to Vietnam as a little war, either through ignorance of the facts or as a term of contempt reflecting their political viewpoint. For those directly involved in combat, especially Army and Marine Corps infantrymen, Vietnam was not a "little" war. Soldiers and Marines fought through some of the most difficult terrain in the world and won some of the toughest encounters in American military history. Professional cadre, volunteers, and draftees served without support from the Armed Forces Reserves, the National Guard, and large segments of the public. They were subject to the disapproval which should have been directed towards the decision makers in American government. They were poorly supported by veterans of other wars. Their political and top military leaders had no clear objectives and strategies. No matter, they loyally answered the call of our country.

Many Vietnam era veterans had been back in America for 5, 10, or 20 years before they heard, "Welcome home!". Many have not yet been extended that simple greeting and thank you. To all Vietnam Veterans, the former members of the 2nd Battalion, 60th Infantry say:


"Welcome home! Thank you!".




Airborne individual - a military parachutist; unit - a unit capable of insertion in battle by air drop

Airmobile - a military unit fully equipped or provided with helicopters for combat operations

ARVN - Army of South Viet Nam individual or various size unit

Battalion - a military unit of apx. 1,000 members (US) or very apx. 500 members (VC/NVA) in size commanded by a Lieutenant Colonel

Brigade a military unit of apx. 1,500 to 4,000 similar to a Regiment

C & C command and control - a headquarters helicopter, river boat, or vehicle used by unit commanders and staff

Company a military unit of apx. 100 to 180 members (US) or very, very, apx. 50 to 100 members (VC/NVA) in size commanded by a Captain

District a Vietnamese governmental region roughly comparable to a U.S. county

Division military unit of apx. 18,000 to 24,000 members (US) or very apx. 6,000 to 12,000 members in size (VC/NVA) commanded by a Major General (2 stars)

FMF Fleet Marine Force - Marine units afloat at sea with the U.S. Navy

Force Recon specially trained reconnaissance and patrol unit or member thereof, U.S. Marine Corps

LRRP's Long Range Reconnaissance Patrol unit, 5-6 man U.S. Army specialized unit

Joint Chiefs top U.S. military commanders (all 4 stars) - Army Chief of Staff, Navy Chief of Naval Operations, Air Force Chief of Staff, Marine Corps Commandant, and a Chairman from one of the Armed Forces on a rotating basis

MIA Missing in Action, a classification for personnel not accounted for after combat action

NLF the National Liberation Front, the guerrilla political and military organization in South Vietnam

NVA North Vietnamese Army (PAVN) as differentiated from the VC local guerrillas and Main Force combat units

PAVN the People's Army of Vietnam

POW Prisoner of War, a classification for personnel in the custody of hostile forces

Province a Vietnamese governmental region roughly comparable to a U.S. state

Purple Heart a U.S. decoration given to members of the Armed Forces for wounds received in battle

Ranger individual - graduate of U.S. Army Ranger school; unit - same as LRRP

Regiment a military unit of apx. 1,500 to 4,000 similar to a Brigade

SEAL Sea-Air-Land, graduate of U.S. Navy SEAL school in waterborne and amphibious warfare; unit-small teams of SEAL graduates with special missions

Special Forces individual - Green Beret, graduate of SF school at Ft. Bragg trained in unconventional warfare for long term action in hostile areas; unit - small teams of SF trained individuals

VC/Viet Cong an Americanized contraction for South Vietnamese Communist guerrillas and political cadre,

more properly members of the NLF


Major Free World Maneuver (Ground Force) Units Fighting in Vietnam

Allies Ordered By Year of Arrival (or arrival of lead elements) In-Country


South Vietnamese Regular Forces (ie, not including units of PF and RF militia, CIDG, and ethnic mercenaries) as constituted in July 1967


Divisions: Regiments: Brigades: Armored Squadrons: Ranger Battalions:


Airborne 42nd Infantry Marine Brigade 1st Armored Cavalry total 20 of various

1st Infantry 51st Infantry Palace Guard 2nd Armored Cavalry numeric designations

2nd Infantry 3rd Armored Cavalry

5th Infantry 4th Armored Cavalry

7th Infantry 5th Armored Cavalry

9th Infantry 6th Armored Cavalry

18th Infantry 7th Armored Cavalry

21st Infantry 8th Armored Cavalry

22nd Infantry 9th Armored Cavalry

23rd Infantry 10th Armored Cavalry

25th Infantry


United States Army and United States Marine Corps


1961 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne), The Green Berets

1965 3rd Marine Division

1965 173rd Airborne Brigade (Separate)

1965 101st Airborne Division

1965 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile)

1965 1st Infantry Division

1966 1st Marine Division

1966 4th Infantry Division

1966 25th Infantry Division

1966 9th Infantry Division

1966 Americal (23rd Infantry) Division

1966 199th Light Infantry Brigade

1966 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment

1967 26th Marine Regiment

1968 3rd Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division

1968 1st Brigade, 5th Infantry Division (Mechanized)

1968 27th Marine Regiment

1968 1st Squadron, 1st Armored Cavalry Regiment

1968 2nd Squadron, 1st Armored Cavalry Regiment

1968 1st Battalion, 50th Infantry (Mechanized)

1969 3rd Squadron, 5th Armored Cavalry Regiment

1970 1st Squadron, 10th Armored Cavalry Regiment


Allies (other than South Vietnamese)


1966 South Korean Capital Division

1966 South Korean 9th Infantry Division

1966 South Korean 2nd Marine (Blue Dragon) Brigade

1966 1st Australian Task Force (Battalion) with New Zealand Artillery Battery

1967 Thailand Queen's Cobra Division


Category: PRELUDE


THIS KIND OF WAR - KOREA: A Study In Unpreparedness

1964; T. R. Fehrenbach; Pocket Books Inc. (by arrangement with The Macmillan Company), New York, NY

Because it analyzes the United States involvement in Korea and points out some political and military lessons that were extremely pertinent to our involvement in Southeast Asia, … that's why a histroy about the Korean War is in a reading list about Vietnam. It's too bad indeed that apparently no one in a position of power in the U.S. government or military read this book. Our involvement in Vietnam might have been very different if they had! Chapter 40, LESSONS, discusses the future of American foreign and defense policy with amazing foresight. The book is an excellent, excellent one volume history of the Korean War which provides perspective from both sides of the conflict at all societal, political, and military levels.


Category: GENERAL


Cable TV Special


1987; Home Box Office;

Co-Produced by The Couturie Co. and The Vietnam Veterans Ensemble Theatre Co.

An excellent show (tape) which does an excellent job of mixing history, global perspective, and personal experience in a chronological attempt to summarize America's involvement in Vietnam. Based on excerpts from network television news coverage and actual letters home from those serving in Vietnam . All footage is authentic. Powerful.



DERELICTION OF DUTY; Lyndon Johnson, Robert McNamara, The Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Lies That Led to Vietnam

1997; H. R. McMaster; HarperCollins Publishers, Inc., 10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022

[from the cover] "A fabulous piece of scholarship. This book will open a whole new chapter in our study of Vietnam." - Tom Clancy [author]; [from the cover] "An outstanding example of historical research, interpretation, scholarship, and fair-minded analysis … [and] a fundamental revision of our understanding of how U.S. involvement in Vietnam became a major American war almost impossible to win." - Donald Kagan, Bass Professor of History, Classics, and Western Civilization, Yale University

If you think the title of the book is harsh and prejudicial, your perspective is very likely to change after you read the book. You may then think the title is far too restrained. The book deals with the President, the Secretary of Defense, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and governmental decision making from November, 1963 to July, 1965. The theme of the book as paraphrased from the cover is that the Vietnam War was not lost in "… the field … on the front pages of the New York Times … or on college campuses" but that it was lost "… in Washington, D.C.".

Because the research for the book was done thirty years after the events, the author had the advantage of an enormous amount of material to work with as well as the ability to interview some of the major participants. Significant amounts of resources were available for this book that were not yet declassified or released when other histories were being written. The book has 83 pages of notes (mostly reference citations) to the text, 9 pages of bibliography (including manuscript sources, oral histories, collections of papers of individuals, government documents, and interviews by the author), 2 pages of primary source books, and 8 pages of secondary source books, articles, and other materials.

A documented, detailed examination of Lyndon Johnson's agenda and deceit of military leaders, Congress, and the American public and of Robert McNamara's agenda, arrogance, and deceit of nearly everyone. A sad, sad look at the top U.S. military, their failure to fulfill their legal (and moral) obligations as leaders, their failure to adhere to their Oaths as Commissioned Officers, and their pursuit of personal power and inter-service intrigue.

At the time of publication, Major H. R. McMaster was serving in the U.S. Army as a student at the Command and General Staff College and upon graduation was to join the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment at Fort Irwin, CA. He graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in 1984 and received an M.A. and a Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. During the Gulf War he commanded Eagle Troop, 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment in combat against Iraq's Republican Guard.


LYNDON JOHNSON'S WAR, The Road to Stalemate in Vietnam

1989; Larry Berman; W. W. Norton & Company, Inc., 500 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10110

A well researched and analytical examination of the U.S. governmental decision making process during the "Americanization" of the war.



1981; Michael Maclear; St. Martin's Press, 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010

An historical backdrop for the war in the 1960's, this book describes events including U.S. involvement that lead to a third full scale war in Indo-China in a three decade period.



1972; David Halberstam; Random House, New York, NY

The story of the U.S. government decision making process during the Vietnam era. Outstanding book. Simultaneously fascinating and horrifying.


IN RETROSPECT, The Tragedy and Lessons of Vietnam

1995; Robert S. McNamara with Brian VanDeMark; Times Books / Random House, Inc., New York, NY

A carefully polished, well after-the-fact, analysis/explanation/apology of what went wrong. A frank discussion of the mistakes made at the highest levels of the U.S. government and military. It would be well to keep in mind that one of the most involved persons was Robert McNamara. The picture of him, presented by him in this book, should usefully be weighed against other perspectives found in other publications which portray his personality, motives, truthfulness, and activities in a much less flattering manner. From anecdotal accounts in other publications it is not unreasonable to conclude that informational reporting from the lowest levels up to the highest levels was so distorted by the harsh requirement that nothing but steady, continual, straight line progress could be reported that much of the information that was used in decision making in Washington was distorted or false. Second only to the President, he was the policy maker and the decision maker who was in charge of the U.S. Armed Forces at the crucial times in their involvement and ultimate strategic failure in Vietnam. As such he is as much or more at fault than any other individual in all of America's involvement in Vietnam, as judged under the military principle, "The commander is responsible for all his unit does, or fails to do.". A book published in 1997, DERELICTION OF DUTY … (reviewed at the beginning of this category), should (justice cries must) be read as an antidote to McNamara's self-serving publication.


WAR OF NUMBERS, An Intelligence Memoir

1994; Sam Adams; Steerforth Press, South Royalton, Vermont

Written by a Harvard graduate who was an analyst for the Central Intelligence Agency during the period 1963-1973 and was responsible for compiling the Communist forces OB (Order of Battle). At the heart of the controversy about whether the American people and Congress were mislead about the size and nature of enemy forces in Vietnam.


THE MARCH OF FOLLY, From Troy To Vietnam

1984; Barbara W. Tuchman; Ballantine Books, New York

The subject of the book by this outstanding historian is folly in government. The examples covered in the book are:

The Trojan Horse, The Renaissance Popes, The British Loss of America, and Vietnam. The entire work is outstanding and well worth reading (as are her other books). The section entitled AMERICA BETRAYS HERSELF IN VIETNAM has the following chapter headings: In Embryo 1945-46, Self-Hypnosis 1946-54, Creating The Client 1954-60, Married To Failure 1960-63, Executive War 1964-68, and Exit 1969-73. The folly is clear in retrospect as things always are. Unfortunately, it was fairly clear at the time as well.

Books by the same author include (title and year only):









THE RISE AND FALL OF AN AMERICAN ARMY, U.S. Ground Forces in Vietnam, 1965-1973

1985; Shelby L. Stanton; Presidio Press, 31 Pamaron Way, Novato CA 94947

Maybe the best, most objective, most well researched, most well written, most understandable explanation of the strategy and tactics, most comprehensive military history of the Army and Marine Corps in Vietnam. For a short, short instant military history of the U.S. in Vietnam read the Forward, the introductory section of each chapter, and the concluding section of the last chapter and achieve a reasonable overall understanding of what happened and why.

Books by the same author include:


1992; Ivy Books, New York


STREET WITHOUT JOY, Insurgency in Indochina, 1946-1963 (Third Revised Edition)

1963; Bernard B. Fall; The Stackpole Company, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania

The classic English language history book about the French experience in Vietnam. Written by a combat veteran who served in the French underground from 1942-1944 and with the 4th Moroccan Mountain Division from 1944-1946. He served as a research analyst with the Nuremberg War Crimes Tribunal. He studied at Syracuse University earning a Master's degree as a Fulbright scholar and later received a Doctorate. He toured Indo-China during the French war and later at the beginning of the American advisory effort. The book details the Viet Minh campaign in the Red River delta, the defeat in detail of Groupement Mobile No. 100, the siege of Dien Bien Phu, and the conclusion of the war. Bernard Fall was killed in action in the late sixties while accompanying an American unit in combat.

Books by the same author include:

HELL IN A VERY SMALL PLACE: The Siege of Dien Bien Phu;

1967; Lippincott & Co., Philadelphia


SEMPER FI VIETNAM, FROM DA NANG TO THE DMZ, Marine Corps Campaigns, 1965-1975

1997; Edward F. Murphy; Presidio Press, Novato, CA

The first complete history of all United States Marine Corps ground operations in South Vietnam. Details battles with NVA regulars in and near the DMZ. Also details pacification efforts and battles with the VC in southern I Corps. Includes descriptions of major battles at Con Thien, Chu Lai, Hue, Khe Sanh, and Dong Ha. Also discusses less well known actions. Excellent book.

Books by the same author include:

DAK TO, America's Sky Soldiers in South Vietnam's Central Highlands (reviewed elsewhere in this list)



1976; General William C. Westmoreland; Dell Publishing Company, Inc., New York, NY

The perspective of the Commander of all U.S. and allied Armed Forces. Obviously an important perspective. Of interest are comments about the rate of AWOL and desertion cases in the Army during the Vietnam War being significantly less than during either the Korean War or World War II.


SUMMONS OF THE TRUMPET, A History of the Vietnam War From a Military Man's Viewpoint

1978; Dave Richard Palmer; Presidio Press / Ballantine Books, New York, NY

An excellent, balanced military history of the U.S. and the Vietnam war by an individual who went on to become the Commandant of West Point.


ON STRATEGY, A Critical Analysis of the Vietnam War

1982; Harry G. Summers, Jr.; Presidio Press, Novato, CA

This book was originally written for the Strategic Studies Institute of the U.S. Army War College (the students are selected senior officers, most of whom are ready for promotion to General) at Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania, and widely read in academic and military circles. This study is full of insightful analysis and is well worth reading, but its tone has a heavy emphasis on the "if only we had ..." side.



1967; Edited by LTC Albert Garland, USA; Infantry Magazine, Ft. Benning, GA

A book published for a military audience with analyses of early combat operations in Vietnam. The book contains the text of the Medal of Honor citations for the first eleven members of the United States Army to receive the award in Vietnam.



1973; Major General William B. Fulton; Department of the Army, Washington, DC

One of a series of official Army publications dealing with Vietnam. This book talks about the unusual joint Army-Navy Mobile Riverine Force operating in the Mekong Delta of South Vietnam. The Mekong Delta has an area of approximately 40,000 square kilometers and at the time of the war had a population of eight million people or about one-half of all the people in South Vietnam at that time. The terrain, population, and weather presented difficult circumstances for the conduct of combat operations. MG (then COL) Fulton commanded the Army battalions of the MRF during 1967.


SELF-DESTRUCTION, The Disintegration And Decay Of The United States Army During The Vietnam Era

1981; Cincinnatus [Pen Name of COL Cecil B. Currey, USAR (ret)]; WW Norton & Co., New York

Vietnam was a failure of the American Military Mind. The author presents a compelling case that bad miltary decisions at

high levels of command were a primary cause of failure in Southeast Asia. A refreshingly different and candid perspective of what happened.


STALKING THE VIET CONG, Inside Operation Phoenix, A Personal Account

This Edition 1997; Stuart A. Herrington; Presidio Press, Novato, CA

Originally Published by Presidio Press in 1981 titled as SILENCE WAS A WEAPON

Experiences of a counter-intelligence officer at the district level in Duc Hue (located between Saigon and Cambodia). Relates attempts to root out hamlet and village VC infrastructure.




READJUSTMENT PROBLEMS AMONG VIETNAM VETERANS, The Etiology of Combat-Related Post-Traumatic Stress Disorders

unknown date; Jim Goodwin. Psy.D.; Disabled American Veterans National Headquarters, P.O. Box 14301,

Cincinnati, OH 45214

Interesting republished article with annotations and references regarding Vietnam Veterans and the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic & Statistical Manual III. Summarizes research findings from World War I, World War II, Korea, and Vietnam. Interestingly, and contrary to popular misconceptions, the rate of evacuation of Armed Forces members from combat areas for psychiatric reasons was drastically lower in Vietnam than in previous wars, especially World War II.


SHRAPNEL IN THE HEART, Letters and Remembrances from the Vietnam Veterans Memorial

1987; Laura Palmer; Vintage Books division of Random House; New York

"They were ours." So begins this book which tells about the lives of 29 Americans whose names are listed on The Wall as told by those who loved them. "So profoundly moving that it permanently alters your understanding of things." - Washington Post


HOME BEFORE MORNING, The True Story of an Army Nurse in Vietnam

1983; Lynda Van Devanter; Warner Books Incorporated, 666 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10016

The wartime biography of an Army nurse in Pleiku Province in the late sixties. It's not all John Wayne and wonderful patriotism where only the "bad guys" suffer and die. At the time of publishing, Lynda Van Devanter was the Vietnam Veterans of America National Women's Director. Her book deals not only with the horrors of war, but with societal attitudes during the Vietnam era, families torn by conflicting convictions about the war, and the trauma of attempting to reestablish life after a tour of duty in "The Nam".


THE HOUSE OF PURPLE HEARTS, Stories of Vietnam Vets Who Find Their Way Back

1995; Paul Solotaroff; HarperCollins Publishers, Inc., 10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022

A tragic documentation of the contempt, neglect, and abandonment of Vietnam Veterans by very large segments of American society. A tale of how some people fought and are still fighting to make a difference. The circumstances in this book are part of the background for the Vietnam Veteran's of America's adoption of the slogan, "Never again will one generation of veteran's abandon another".


TO HEAL A NATION, The Vietnam Veterans Memorial

1985; Jan C. Scruggs and Joel L. Swerdlow; Harper & Row Publishers, New York, NY

The story of how "The Wall" came to be in Washington, DC, a "Memorial built with private contributions of the American people". Jan C. Scruggs was wounded in Vietnam and was a driving force in seeing that Vietnam Veterans were honored in governmental Washington even if the 'Nam Vets and the public had to do and finance it all in spite of the inertia and opposition of the U.S. government. The book includes many photographs and lists the names of all of the more than 58,000 Americans who lost their lives in Southeast Asia during the conflict.


OFFERINGS AT THE WALL, Artifacts From The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Collection

1995; Edited by Walton Rawls; Turner Publishing, Inc., Atlanta, Georgia

Photographs of articles left at The Wall. Thought provoking and heartbreaking.


LEADING THE WAY, How Vietnam Veterans Rebuilt The U.S. Military: An Oral History

1993; Albert Santoli; Ballantine Books / Random House, New York, NY

From the introduction, this book is the oral history, "... of a small group of courageous and determined people. Against all odds, they helped to turn around a broken institution - the United States Military". Leaders from the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines relate some long term positive lessons from Vietnam as applied up to and including operation Desert Storm.

Other books by Albert Santoli include:

EVERYTHING WE HAD … (reviewed elsewhere in this list)


ACHILLES IN VIETNAM, Combat Trauma and the Undoing of Character

1994; Jonathan Shay, M.D., Ph.D.; Touchstone Book, Simon & Schuster, New York

Reviewers had the comments below. "Shay's astute analysis of the human Psyche and his inventive linking of his patients' symptoms to the actions of the characters in Homer's classic story make this book well worth reading for anyone who would lead troops in both peace and war." - Thomas E. Neven, Marine Corps Gazette "I have read Achilles in Vietnam carefully and with great emotion. Achilles in Vietnam is a truly great achievement." - Gregory Nagy, Professor of Classical Greek Literature, Harvard University





1985; Troung Nhu Tang w/ David Chanoff & Doan Van Toai; Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Orlando, Florida

A biography of involvement with the revolutionary movement from 1945 until passage as a boat person to Singapore and then to exile in Paris, by the former NLF Minister of Justice. An excellent look at cultural and political life with the Viet Cong shadow government in Cambodia during the war.


INSIDE THE VC AND THE NVA, The Real Story of North Vietnam's Armed Forces

1992; Michael Lee Lanning and Dan Cragg; Ivy Books / Ballantine Books / Random House, New York, NY

A thorough examination of the organization, training, and combat operations of the VC and NVA. The authors served multiple tours with the U.S. Army in Vietnam.

Other books by Michael Lee Lanning include:

THE ONLY WAR WE HAD: A Platoon Leader's Journal of Vietnam; Ivy Books, New York

VIETNAM 1969-1970: A Company Commander's Journal; Ivy Books, New York

INSIDE THE LRRPS: Rangers in Vietnam; Ivy Books, New York

INSIDE FORCE RECON: Recon Marines in Vietnam; Ivy Books, New York

VICTORY AT ANY COST. The Genius of Viet Nam's Gen. Vo Nguyen Giap

1997; Cecil B. Currey with a Forward by John Keegan; Brassey's Inc., Washington, DC

An AUSA (Association of the United States Army) Book. A brilliant biography of one of the 20th Century's and the world's greatest generals. The author is a retired history professor and a retired Colonel in the Army Reserve.

One of the other books by Cecil B. Currey (using the pen name "Cincinnatus") is:

SELF-DESTRUCTION, The Disintegration … (reviewed elsewhere in this list)


Category: MY LAI



1979; Lieutenant General W. R. Peers, U.S.A. (Retired); W.W. Norton & Co., New York

[from the cover] "At last the real story of the My Lai massacre, the subsequent moral failure and cover-up by the military hierarchy - by the man who conducted the official investigation." An account of a tragic episode for the United States Army and the country - not just the massacre but the Nixon administration's handling of it. Much of the evidence uncovered in the Peers Panel investigation was ignored in later actions by the Army. My Lai was, in part, symptomatic of other problems within the Army. An official Army study made in this time frame (cited in the book) found that the "majority of the Officer Corps" found huge differences in the "appearance and reality of the adherence of senior officers to the traditional standards of professionalism". [the officers studied] "... saw a system that rewarded selfishness, incompetence, and dishonesty."


COVER-UP: The Army's Secret Investigation of the Massacre at My Lai 4

1972; Seymour M. Hersh; Random House, New York

An even more scathing account of the events and the investigation than the one presented by General Peers. While the book presents a useful societal viewpoint it suffers from an apparent "rush to publish". The book evidences some glaring gaps (and apparent errors of fact) in general understanding about the size and composition of military units and the nature of duties in the military. Even more seriously in apparent attempts to "build a case" to match the author's opinions, some statements are made which may be technically correct but are extremely misleading. This applies especially to the discussion of Col. Henderson's career. The book is still useful reading to understand what happened at My Lai and what happened subsequently.




HEROES OF OUR TIME - 239 Men Of The Vietnam War Awarded The Medal Of Honor 1964-1972

1994; Kenneth N. Jordan, Sr.; Schiffer Military/Aviation History, 77 Lower Valley Road, Atglen, PA 19310

Contains the complete citations for all 239 Medals Of Honor with other related materials and pictures. Inspirational!




WE WERE SOLDIERS ONCE ... AND YOUNG, Ia Drang: The Battle That Changed The War In Vietnam

1992; Lieutenant General Harold G. Moore (Retired) and Joseph Galloway; Random House, New York, NY

From the Prologue, "The Ia Drang campaign was to the Vietnam War what the terrible Spanish Civil War of the 1930's was to World War II: a dress rehearsal; the place where new tactics, techniques, and weapons were tested, perfected, and validated. In the Ia Drang both sides claimed victory and both sides drew lessons, some of them dangerously deceptive, which echoed and resonated throughout the decade of bloody fighting and bitter sacrifice that was to come.". The story of the 1st Cavalry Division's (the Army's first airmobile division) first major battle with the NVA by the battalion commander involved. The 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry's battle was as desperate as any in the unit's history including the Little Big Horn with Custer and the Pusan perimeter in Korea. The Prologue gives a good description of the background of the officers, NCO's, and enlisted personnel who fought with the Cav and a portrait of the America from which they came.


NEVER WITHOUT HEROES, Marine Third Reconnaissance Battalion in Vietnam 1965-1970

1996; Lawrence C. Vetter, Jr.; Ivy Books/Ballantine Books divisions of Random House; New York

A story of heroism and devotion to duty by a small unit in which approximately 2,800 men served in the five years it was in Vietnam. During that time the battalion had 1,121 marines and 12 Navy Corpsmen killed, wounded, or listed as missing-in-action. Members of the battalion were awarded 4 Medals of Honor, 13 Navy Crosses, and 72 Silver Stars. Interesting sidelights include descriptions of Marine Corps general officers refusing to believe the intelligence gathered at great cost by the recon teams because reality conflicted with the generals pre-conceived notions of the situation (and because accepting the reports would mean admitting that General Westmoreland and the Army were right and the Marine Corps was wrong about the extent to which elements of the North Vietnamese Army were crossing into South Vietnam).

DAK TO, America's Sky Soldiers in South Vietnam's Central Highlands

1993; Edward F. Murphy; Pocket Books division of Simon & Schuster, Inc., New York

The story of the U.S. Army's elite 173rd Airborne Brigade and its deployment from Okinawa to South Vietnam. Particularly concentrates on the series of battles in the central highlands around the Dak To Special Forces camp. Reveals the arrogant mindset of the paratrooper brigade and battalion commanders who wouldn't listen to the sound tactical advice given them by the staff and senior commanders of the 4th Infantry Division who had experience in fighting in the terrain of the central highlands against the NVA. Also reveals the more than occasional chasm which occurred in the 173rd and many other units between the grunts and their leaders on the ground (who were solidly in touch with reality) and the light colonels and colonels in airborne C&C hueys (who were sometimes solidly in touch with the world of make believe where terrain and enemy didn't exist).

Books by the same author include:

SEMPER FI VIETNAM, … Marine Corps Campaigns, 1965-1975 (reviewed elsewhere in this list)


ONCE A WARRIOR KING, Memories Of An Officer In Vietnam

1985; David Donovan; Ballantine Books, New York

Vietnam was a complex society and culture, with multiple military, political, social, educational, and economic conflicts being conducted at the same time. This is a the story of a young Army officer who served as head of an advisory team in the Plain of Reeds in western Mekong Delta near Cambodia. It is an interesting look at the challenges facing the U.S. government which wanted to fight a war and rebuild (if it needed rebuilding) a complete society simultaneously. As advisor (and de facto, of great decision making importance) to several Vietnamese Districts in Kien Phong Province the author faced an amazing challenge beyond the merely military.


ONCE UPON A DISTANT WAR, David Halberstam, Neil Sheehan, Peter Arnett - Young War Correspondents and Their Early Vietnam Battles

1995; William Prochnau; Vintage Books / Random House, Inc., New York, NY

A story of correspondents who fought the U.S. government, the South Vietnamese government, the U.S. military, and their publishers to attempt to bring the truth about the situation in Vietnam to the American public. The opening quote in the book from an unpublished TIME magazine story by Charles Mohr just about says it all, "Vietnam is a graveyard of lost hopes, destroyed vanity, glib promises, and good intentions".


1984; James N. Rowe; Ballantine Books, New York, NY

The story of a Green Beret advisor to the ARVN in the Ca Mau Peninsula in the far south of South Vietnam who was captured by the VC in 1963, spent five years as a POW in primitive conditions, and was liberated in 1968.


1978; Michael Herr; Avon Books / Hearst Corp., New York, NY

Written by a war correspondent in Vietnam, the reviews on the cover say, "In the great line of Crane, Orwell and Hemingway ...". The reviews are accurate. Special attention is given to the Marine Corps experience at Khe Sanh.

A BRIGHT SHINING LIE, John Paul Vann and America in Vietnam

1989; Neil Sheehan; Vintage Books / Random House, New York, NY

The biography of one of the "players" in the great game of Vietnam. The book tells a lot about the American military and its middle management. It also tells a great deal about why the South Vietnamese could never win the war. Discusses the roles of General Paul Harkins (predecessor to General Westmoreland) and Ambassador Nolting (predecessor to Ambassador Lodge) in setting the stage for American involvement on a large scale. Discusses the battle of Ap Bac in 1963 which, had the junior American military advisors been allowed to report the truth, should have told the U.S. military establishment beyond all doubt that the South Vietnamese could never win.

ABOUT FACE, The Odyssey of an American Warrior

1989; Colonel David H. Hackworth and Julie Sherman; Touchstone / Simon & Schuster, New York, NY

A biography of a much decorated career officer with emphasis on several tours of duty in Vietnam. Interesting sidelight of reading this book is to note how his zealousness sometimes leads him astray in his efforts to accomplish his mission of the moment.

EVERYTHING WE HAD, An Oral History of the Vietnam War by Thirty-Three American Soldiers Who Fought There

1981; Albert Santoli; Ballantine Books / Random House, New York, NY

The book was written with the assistance of, and jointly copyrighted with, the Vietnam Veterans of America. Al Santoli was a rifleman in the U.S. 25th Infantry Division in Vietnam who received a Bronze Star with "V" and three Purple Hearts. Riflemen serve "where it's at" in combat. The book relates the real life experiences of a variety of people who served in Vietnam. The term soldier as used in the title connotes the generic meaning of one who serves and includes members of the CIA, Marines, nurses, Navy corpsmen, and pilots.

Other books by Albert Santoli include:

LEADING THE WAY … (reviewed elsewhere in this list)

HEADHUNTERS, Stories from the 1st Squadron, 9th Cavalry, in Vietnam 1965-1971

1987; Matthew Brennan; Presidio Press / Pocket Books / Simon & Schuster, New York, NY

Personal stories of and by the men who served with the 1st Cavalry Division's elite reconnaissance unit. The 1st/9th Cavalry had approximately 17 % of the division's helicopters and approximately 4 % of the division's infantry strength, yet the author claims they accounted for nearly 50 % of its enemy body count. A series of illustrations of the airmobility concept.

HAMBURGER HILL May 11-20, 1969

1988; Samuel Zaffiri; Pocket Books, a division of Simon & Schuster, New York, NY

An account of the battle for Ap Bia Mountain conducted as elements of the 101st Airborne Division and the 9th Marine Regiment invaded the A Shau valley near the Laotian border in Operation Apache Snow. Spotlights the questions raised by GI's, Congress, the press, and the public about what we were doing in Vietnam and how we were doing it. Describes the bloody fight by units of the 101st Airborne to take the mountain from the NVA. Describes the later abandonment of the mountain and its reoccupation by the NVA. (An all too frequent feature of the war in Vietnam). Outstanding book, well researched.

SAPPERS IN THE WIRE The Life and Death of Firebase Mary Ann

1995; Keith William Nolan; Pocket Books, a division of Simon & Schuster, New York, NY

An account of a battle in March, 1971, as the United States was withdrawing from Vietnam. A company of Viet Cong sappers overran firebase Mary Ann in Quang Tin Province (in northern South Vietnam) held by an artillery battery and an infantry battalion of the Army's Americal (23rd Infantry) Division, killing 30 US soldiers and wounding 82. A tale of politics, leadership, disaffection with the war, and heroism. A tale of the U.S. Army as indifference and indiscipline were slowly causing it to lose its combat effectiveness. (In Vietnam, American fighting forces entered the war with excellent training, discipline, capability, and esprit. As the lack of a will to win became apparent, as the lack of a strategy became apparent, as racial tensions in society increased, as the draft began to be increasingly unfair, as the reserves were not mobilized, and as the support of the American public disappeared, the fighting forces, especially the Army, essentially disintegrated. This was the opposite experience of World War II and Korea where the military was by-and-large unprepared and ineffective at the onset of hostilities and became increasingly competent and effective as the conflicts continued.)

ACCEPTABLE LOSS An Infantry Soldier's Perspective

1991; Kregg P. J. Jorgenson; Ivy Books/Ballantine Books divisions of Random House; New York

A narrative from "where it was at". The story of the author's tour of duty with the LRRP's, The Blues, of the 1st Cavalry Division in Vietnam and Cambodia. Outstanding book.

COVERT WARRIOR Fighting the CIA's Secret War in Southeast Asia and China, 1965-1967

1996; Warner Smith; Presidio Press, Novato, CA

The personal account of a member of FRAM 16, a unit composed of Navy Officers trained and directed by the CIA to conduct operations in Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, North Vietnam, and China. Powerful. Gripping. Revealing.


This Edition 1996; James Estep; Presidio Press, Novato, CA

Originally Published by Presidio Press in 1991 as COMMANCHE SIX, COMPANY COMMANDER VIETNAM

The author, COL James Estep US Army (Ret.) rose from Sergeant to Captain during four tours of duty in Vietnam between 1962 and 1973. :A central theme that runs throughout this work is the dichotomy between the war that these soldiers experienced and the one that they read about in their local papers mailed from home." - Marine Corps Gazette

THE KILLING ZONE My Life in the Vietnam War

1978 (Paperback 1993); Frederick Downs; WW Norton & Co., New York

The story of a 23 year old infantry lieutenant with the US Army's 4th Infantry Division in I Corps Zone (far north) of South Vietnam in 1967-1968. "The best damned book from the point of view of the infnatrymen who fought there." - Army Times

After rehabilitation for losing an arm and finishing college, the author successfully went on with life. At the time of writing the book, he was the Director of Prosthetic and Sensory Aids for the Veterans Administration.

IN PHARAOH'S ARMY Memories of the Lost War

1994; Tobias Wolff; Vintage Books Division of Random House, Inc., New York, NY

The story of a young manhood that became entangled in the tragic adventure that was Vietnam. "The book is remarkable … it's a magnificent and sobering achievement." - Chicago Tribune

Category: POW's/MIA's


KISS THE BOYS GOODBYE, How The United States Betrayed Its Own POW's In Vietnam

1991; Monika Jensen-Stevenson and William Stevenson; PLUME / Penguin Books USA, New York, NY

Written by a married team of author-journalists she with six years at CBS-TV's Sixty Minutes and he as a correspondent for the Toronto Star. Monika Jensen-Stevenson began researching materials based upon her contacts at Sixty Minutes. Examines the CIA's role in Southeast Asia and possible involvement with drug trafficking from the "Golden Triangle". Looks at official investigations and private investigations into U.S. POW's and MIA's. Looks at the strange case of Marine Corps PFC Robert Garwood and his treatment by the U.S. government.


Category: FICTION



1972; Josiah Bunting; Popular Library

This is a novel. However, it is an extremely accurate portrayal of the environment of U.S. involvement in Vietnam and the pressures on the Army's junior and middle management (company grade and field grade officers) to produce a miracle. Written by a West Point graduate and a Rhodes Scholar the book is a work of fiction but there are some amazing coincidental similarities between the fictional division in the book and the U.S. Army's 9th Infantry Division conducting triphibious (amphibious, mechanized, and airmobile ) operations in the Mekong Delta of Vietnam.



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