Have you read a great book about the Vietnam War and want to recommend it to others? Here’s the place! Go to the comment section below and post the title of the book, author, and a short blurb about why others should read this book. Also, if you have it, please include the link of where the book is available for purchase.
I will pull that information and begin listing those books alphabetically…if a link is available, I’ll also include the book cover with your recommendation.
The Giant Killer
by David Yuzuk
4′ 9″ 97lbs Vietnam Vet Green Beret Captain Richard J. Flaherty – 101st Airborne & 3rd Special Forces Group Vietnam 1967-1971 – Silver Star, 2 Bronze Stars & 2 Purple Hearts.
#1 New York Times best seller – Author Doug Stanton
“Giant Killers are among us– author David Yuzuk walked with one and returned with this tale.”
In riveting rifle, rucksack style author, David Yuzuk takes you deep into the jungles of Vietnam to walk in the combat boots of America’s smallest soldier, Richard Flaherty. During his first tour in Vietnam, Flaherty is placed in command of the Airborne’s Delta Platoon. Later he’s assigned to command Recon’s Echo Platoon.
Starting with the Tet Offensive, Flaherty and his units are engaged in harrowing non-stop action and deadly fighting. Flaherty’s Platoon is ordered to conduct Search and Destroy missions on the outskirts of the City of Hue to engage the large fleeing enemy NVA and VC units.
Written with extensive access to surviving members of the 101st Airborne and 3rd Special Forces Group, on-the-ground eye-witness, family members and friends, as well as archival, and declassified military records, Yuzuk has created a gripping narrative of Richard Flaherty’s inspiring life and career.
Yuzuk also releases never published information of a covert operation Flaherty worked in order to locate and recover a recently declassified stolen weapon of mass destruction (Project Green Light).
Author and police officer David Yuzuk befriended Richard J. Flaherty in 1999, when Flaherty was living homeless on the streets of Aventura, Florida. Flaherty warned Yuzuk that asking too many questions about his secretive life could be bad for Yuzuk’s career and dangerous to his own health. Sure enough, eight hours after Yuzuk made a call to confirm Flaherty’s identity, Flaherty was killed in a hit-and-run.
Former U.S. Army Ranger and CIA contractor Kris “Tanto” Paronto is also interviewed for the book. Kris is known for his heroic actions during the 2012 terrorist attack on the U.S. Ambassador and CIA compound in Benghazi. Kris offers his insight and knowledge into Flaherty’s Private Military contract work and Flaherty’s ongoing battle with PTSD.
For his actions in Vietnam and South East Asia, Flaherty earned the Silver Star, Bronze Star W/Valor Bronze Star (3OLC), Purple Heart (1OLC), Purple Heart, Air Medal, Gallantry Cross W/Silver Star, Army Commendation Medal, Combat Infantryman’s Badge, 3 Overseas Bars, Sharpshooter Badge W/Rifle Bar, Air Medal, Parachutist Badge, Vietnam Service Medal W/Bronze Service, and the Vietnam Campaign Medal
On November 28, 1945, doctors in Stamford Hospital intensely worked to save new born Richard Flaherty’s life. His mother didn’t know at the time of his birth that her blood type was Rh-negative which may lead to serious health problems—and death—in a second born fetus. Richard’s future therefore was sealed before he took his first breath. The complications caused a hormonal imbalance which stunted his growth. Medically speaking, Richard would be considered a proportionate dwarf. He was expected to only grow to the height of 4’ 7” but Richard proved them wrong as he grew to 4’ 9.” He later later proved many others wrong by achieving the impossible and becoming a Green Beret Captain.
If Richard Flaherty was only the shortest man to ever be in the U.S. Army and a Green Beret, that would certainly be a unique story in itself. Flaherty was much more, though. He was a bonafide war hero and beloved leader of the men he commanded. A small stature with a oversized shadow. Yet, he was cut from the Army that was his life after two tours in Vietnam. This story documents as much as can be known about a man whose post army life was spent in a variety of jobs freelancing, alternating between classified missions conducted by the CIA and NSA…. What an interesting man and totally unique story. -John Werner, VINE VOICE
Link on Amazon for this book: https://www.amazon.com/Giant-Killer-incredible-smallest-Military-Vietnam-ebook/dp/B086VP8R5L
THE MAD FRAGGER AND ME: Leading an Infantry Rifle Platoon in Vietnam Kindle Edition
by Thomas Dolan (Author)
Suggested by Jay
Purchase link: http://booklocker.com/books/6796.html
This book describes the true experiences of a U.S. soldier, through his military training and troop duty, culminating in a 1970-1971 tour as an Infantry Platoon Leader in Vietnam. (506 pages)
Five Years to Freedom – The true story of a Vietnam POW
by James N. Rowe
Suggested by: Richard Mencl
Purchase link: https://www.amazon.com/Five-Years-Freedom-Story-Vietnam-ebook/dp/B004G5ZYEW
John, Here is a book I didn’t see in your library: “Five Years to Freedom” by James N (Nick) Rowe. He was captured in 1963 and escaped 5 years later. Subsequently assassinated while on duty in the Phillipines. A great man although not the best writer in the world.
Here is a book review that I’m also sending to the San Francisco Marine’s Memorial magazine “Crossroads”, on an important event in the Vietnam War that occurred 50 years ago today. My own background- US Marine Corps, Cold War Post Vietnam vet. 1977-1985. Former Nuclear Weapons Officer
This story was common knowledge when I was in, but we all had to keep quiet about it. Please post on your website and/or blog if you find it worthwhile to the discussion of Vietnam War history.
Regards, John F. Davies
Fifty years ago, “Shock and Awe” was almost unleashed against North Vietnam. During the fall of 1969, the employment of nuclear weapons was, for the first time given serious consideration by the Nixon White House. Using recently declassified archives, Cold War Historians William Burr and Jeffery C. Kimball now tell for the first time this little known part of Vietnam War history,
After taking office in 1969, President Richard M. Nixon declared ending the Vietnam War to be his administration’s top priority. The date of 1 November was set for an ultimatum to be made to Hanoi. Both Nixon and his National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger then pursued a dual policy of making diplomatic and military threats. Above all, they wanted to use Nixon’s bellicose reputation as a means of pressuring the Communists towards a peace agreement.
One of the revelations in this book is the role of a little known figure of the Vietnam era- U.S. Navy Captain (later Rear Admiral), Rembrandt C. Robinson. As Pentagon Liaison Officer to the National Security Council, Captain Robinson worked with Kissinger and the Joint Chiefs in putting together an operations order code-named “Duck Hook”. Besides air, naval, and mining operations, its paragraphs included plans for strikes involving tactical nuclear weapons by carrier aircraft, the goal being destroying North Vietnam’s infrastructure
The efforts to intimidate Hanoi however came to naught. The reasons were many, but ultimately it was Nixon’s concerns about domestic politics, anti-war protests, and damage to diplomatic moves that restrained his actions. However, some covert military operations were authorized, including the secret bombings of Cambodia and Laos. An even greater action occurred in October 1969. Called a “Joint Readiness Exercise” it involved all major U.S. Military Commands, operating under conditions close to DEFCON III. The operation even involved flying nuclear-armed B-52s in close proximity to Russian airspace. These actions were meant to intimidate the Soviets into putting pressure on the North Vietnamese but were nevertheless unsuccessful. With the failure of this strategy, Nixon and Kissinger opted for a “Vietnamization” policy, which would provide a “Decent Interval” for the subsequent `U.S. withdrawal. However, the planning and exercise of 1969 did provide the basis for the 1972 “Linebacker” bombing campaign and the later 1973 Nuclear Alert during the Yom Kippur War.
“Nixon’s Nuclear Specter” provides a view into a little-known but nevertheless important part of Vietnam War history. More importantly, the authors make a creditable case about the limits of nuclear weapons in foreign policy, and how it influenced the course of America’s long war in Vietnam.
Link to book website:
Will McCollum’s book “Above The Best” covering the life and times of the men who served in the unit will be available in the PX. Orders may be made by contacting Stories & Postings (281st.com) and completing the order form…it is not the same book posted on Amazon.
I don’t read much fiction, ( Especially the “Mainstream Media.”), but this book is a rare exception.
Set late in the Vietnam War, “The Five Fingers” tells the story of a select team of Special Forces Soldiers tasked with taking out a summit conference of Communist leaders in Southern China. It was written during the late 1970s, but really didn’t take off sales-wise until about 1980, and was on sale at every military exchange during my tour. What intrigues me so much about it is while the premise is fantastic, the story sounds believable in light of what we now know of China’s involvement with North Vietnam. The author is a pseudonym, but from what I’ve read he knows a lot of what he’s talking about. The plot and the actions described are believable and realistic. I asked a number of people I knew who were Spec Ops vets about the book, and they were of two minds about it. Some said it was real, some said it was fiction, but they all agreed that whoever wrote or helped write the story had themselves “been there” as we would say. It’s still quite a fascinating and thought-provoking story, and quite a cut above most of its genre. Why this book hasn’t been made into a movie, I don’t know, because it would definitely be a good one. It has been long out of print, but can easily be found on E-bay. Regards, JFD3vet
Link to review: The Five Fingers by Gayle Rivers (goodreads.com)
This video is intended to honor the soldiers of Charlie Company, 4th, 47th, 9thinfantry Division who fought and died protecting freedom in Vietnam’s treacherous Mekong Delta thoughout 1967. Highlighted are photos shown in Dr. Andrew Wiest’s new book, “The Boy’s of ’67 – Charlie Company’s War in Vietnam. Dr. Wiest, an accomplished military author, serves as Professor of History at the University of Southern Mississippi. This book will knock your socks off! Check http://www.9thinfantrydivision.com
Movie review as posted on Vietnam War Book and Film Club (VWHOrg) by Kevin Hardy
We Were Soldiers Once…And Young by Lt. Col. Harold Moore and journalist Joseph Galloway. The book is a non-fiction account of the Battle of Ia Drang in the Vietnam War. The movie was written, directed, and produced by Randall Wallace of “Braveheart” and “Pearl Harbor” infamy.
The film opens with a scene set in 1954 during the First Indochina War pre-Dien Bien Phu. A French unit is ambushed in the Ia Drang Valley (the Valley of Death) by the Vietminh led by Nguyen Huu An and wiped out. The action is graphic with “Saving Private Ryan” style cinematography (quick cuts, slo-mo, POV). It’s a great opening and sets the theme of “how will the American experience be different?”
The body of the film begins at Fort Benning, Ga (it was filmed on location) in 1964. Back when America was innocent, naïve, and overconfident. And clueless about nonconventional warfare in a jungle environment. Moore (Mel Gibson) arrives with his idyllic family of supportive wife and perfect kids.
Moore is in command of a new type of unit – air cavalry. Helicopters will take the role of horses. The unit is the 7th Cavalry and in case you don’t get the reference, the movie hammers the fact that the 7th was Custer’s unit and you know what happened to them! We get the obligatory training montage. The movie is an excellent study in command. Moore is the classic “lead by example” commander. He is also very hands-on in his leadership. This includes counseling his young officers. For instance, he has a talk with a new father named Lt. Geoghegan (Chris Klein) in a chapel. The scene is cringe-inducing with overt religiosity and sappy dialogue. Geoghegan is saintly and soon to be a papa with his new bride (and thus doomed). Moore offers a prayer that concludes with asking God to disregard the enemy’s prayers and help us kill the “little bastards”. Hilarious!
The movie makes a concerted effort to integrate the families into the narrative. Moore tells his daughter that war is when some people in another country try to take the lives of people and then soldiers like daddy have to go over and try to stop them. This is not a bad analysis of what the public was told the war was about in 1964. The movie introduces us to the officers’ wives. Julie Moore (Madeline Stowe) is the sorority mom. When orders come, the men are enthusiastic about going off to test their manhood, the wives are stoically nervous.
The unit is sent to the Central Highlands in 1965. The air cavalry experiment is about to begin. That experiment is simple – use mobility to “find the enemy and kill them”. Their first mission is to land in an enemy area and provoke combat. Hopefully not against ten to one odds. Oops! Hueys led by Maj. Crandall (Greg Kinnear) drop them in a clearing designated LZ X-Ray. The tactics are realistic as the Americans come charging off the choppers guns blazing and immediately establish a perimeter. Things go wrong immediately as the gung-ho Lt. Herrick (Marc Blucas) goes chasing after an enemy scout and gets himself killed (“If I have to die. I’m glad to give my life for my country.”) and his platoon cut off in a position called The Knoll. Sgt. Savage (Ryan Hurst) takes command. The trials the Lost Platoon will go through are incredible. A few men holding out against huge numbers of the enemy. The fighting gets so desperate Savage calls artillery fire down on his own position.
Inside the perimeter, it’s a macrocosm of what the Lost Platoon is going through. The landing at LZ X-Ray was like kicking an ant pile. It turns out there is a NVA battalion commanded by now Col. An Duong Don) stationed in the hills nearby and they are up for a fight. Even against the vaunted U.S. Army. The battle is a series of enemy assaults and Moore’s attempts to plug the holes with his courageous few. Crandall’s helicopters participate by bringing in reinforcements and supplies and medevac the wounded under fire. They also bring in an intrepid photojournalist named Joseph Galloway (Barry Pepper). At one point, the NVA get to the command post and Galloway grabs an M-16 and fights for survival, like everyone else.
At this point the movie jumps to the home front where the wives are coping with separation, but not death. Then the first telegrams arrive. Julie Moore and Barbara Geoghegan (Keri Russell) take over delivering the death notices. It’s extremely poignant and effective. Wouldn’t it be extra poignant if one of the telegrams is for one of them?
This is a schizophrenic movie. Parts of it are great and parts are not. Not surprising for a movie that tries to be accurate and entertaining in equal measure. Wallace insisted the movie was as accurate as possible (the same bull shit he spewed about “Braveheart”) and most of it is. The parts that are aimed at the general audience make a war movie lover squirm. The Moore family scenes are not pathetic, but it’s obvious Wallace meant to make the opposite of the unpatriotic, impious Vietnam flicks like “Platoon”, “Apocalypse Now”, “Full Metal Jacket”, and “The Deer Hunter”. The pre-battle training sequence is simplistic and heavy in foreshadowing. For instance, Herrick is a tightly-wound glory hound who is likely to get his men into a trap. Sure ‘nuff. The references to Custer’s Last Stand are too maladroit.
The trite pre-Vietnam scenes come to an abrupt end when the unit gets shipped overseas. That scene is powerful with a building score and no dialogue. In no time at all, they are in battle. The action is consistently intense and some of the effects are spectacular. This movie has more combat than a vast majority of war movies. And yet, believe it or not, the actual battle was even more intense and violent than the movie. The tactics are realistic for both sides. The movie is excellent on helicopter participation in the fighting and air and artillery support. The napalm shots are breathtaking (get it?). There is even a “mad minute” moment to get the enemy to reveal their positions. One problem I had was the lack of emphasis on the role of M-60s in holding off human wave attacks. It could be argued that “We Were Soldiers” comes closest to accurately portraying a Vietnam battle.
The movie is rolling along nicely until it jumps the shark with Moore going out in the dark to find Geoghegan. It is inconceivable that a commander would risk his life in a situation like that. The scene was obviously forced in to confirm Moore’s pledge not to leave any men behind. But Wallace saves his best for last with the abysmal bayonet charge topped off with the Crandall massacre of the remainder of the enemy. Wallace forces a happy ending into what was a pretty level-headed narrative. This reminded me a lot of “Pearl Harbor”. Worse, the success of American grit and firepower in winning the battle dilutes the explicit moral that America will have a hard time in Vietnam.
The last ten minutes of the movie prevent it from being a very good movie, but it still ends up being good and better than most Vietnam War movies. The acting is good if a bit too earnest and the cast is able. The actors were put through a boot camp. Mel Gibson is not aggravating and gets Moore’s personality right. It’s obvious Gibson was comfortable playing a man as religious as he is. Greg Kinnear is strong as Crandall and Pepper’s late appearance as Galloway gives the movie a second wind. Making the most impact is Sam Elliot as Sgt. Major Plumley. It’s acting in his sleep, but the character is a lot of fun, if clicheish. He gets some great lines and provides some welcome humor without cracking a smile. He does not say a lot, but it’s all quality. Unfortunately, much of the dialogue could easily fit into a 1940s war film. When Moore asks Galloway what he is doing there, Galloway says “because I knew these dead boys would be here.” At one point, Moore says “There’s nothing wrong except that there’s nothing wrong.” Apparently, the dialogue is accurate, but it seems hokey.
The movie is technically proficient as would be expected for a movie costing $70 million. Wallace may be shaky as a screenwriter, but he does a good job directing. The action scenes incorporate all the bells and whistles of modern war movies. There are some hand-held shots. There is some slo-mo. Blood splatters on the camera lens. It is a very violent movie. The make-up crew did a remarkable job on some horrendous wounds. Someone counted the number of KIAs – 305. The sound effects are great. The lighting in the night attacks is admirable. The score is fine and restrained.
The movie has some admirable goals. Wallace wants the audience to get a feel for what military wives go through. Having a military mother and having lived on a base while my father flew in Vietnam I can attest to the authenticity of the home front scenes. The telegram scenes are not in the book and may be Hollywood, but they are refreshing for this macho genre. We certainly did not need another stale romance or love triangle. Stowe is great as Julie Moore. WWS has a strong female vibe. Another example of balance is the coverage of the enemy. This is not “Black Hawk Down”. The communists are not faceless. Gen. An is sympathetically rendered as are his men. One soldier gets to keep a diary with his girl’s picture in it and then gets to try to bayonet Col. Moore. They are brave but there is definitely a drone quality to them. Wallace goes out of his way to cover their tactics and even implies they will win the war.
Some people sneer at the unambiguous religiousity of the film and Gibson’s involvement in the film caters to this criticism. However, my research shows that Moore is indeed a devout Catholic so the characterization is true to form although obviously forced into the film (probably at the insistence of Gibson). Considering how a vast majority of war movies purposely ignore religion, we can excuse WWS for purposefully including God. It has more scenes with religion than any ten war movies. Hell, even An says a prayer. Another jarring element is the squeaky cleanness of the American soldiers. This ain’t “Platoon”. There is no drug use or sociopathic behavior. Although I would put the movie in the VioLingo school, I do not think the f word was used a single time. (Considering the graphic violence, Wallace’s decision to sanitize the language is bizarre.) Before you cry bogus, this is fairly close to the 1965 Army especially when you consider these would not be draftees and they are in an elite unit. They should be naïve, enthusiastic, and patriotic.
In conclusion, “We Were Soldiers” could have been the best Vietnam War movie if Wallace had not pulled his punches in the end. For someone who wanted to make the most accurate Vietnam War battle movie, it is infuriating that he would taint his admirable effort with a phony happy ending. Especially when the truth would have fit his purpose so much better. Still, if you overlook the bayonet charge, the battle is as good as you are going to get, the wives get their just due, the soldiers of both sides are positively depicted, the enemy is sympathetically portrayed, and the movie is an excellent study in command. Nothing’s perfect.GRADE = A-