Author Mark Bowden discusses the Vietnam War and his new book Hue 1968.
Excellent book Mark. I think the house to house fighting for some reason makes the combat more personal. Perhaps being able to see some targets up close does it? One of my former neighbors was trapped in the Air Force building in Hue for 9 days. Not sure if he was with the Air Force or State Department at the time, having erred in both. I know he was quite animated about the hellishness of the experience in our abbreviated discussion about it.
I’ve read Bowden’s other books, and I am looking forward to this one. Vietnam was disastrous for the United States, but it’s also poorly understood. Hue was a bitter fight in an environment that neutralized many of the advantages that American soldiers and marines enjoyed (air power, armor, artillery) and it was a hard won but complete victory that revealed the murderous nature of the North Vietnamese communists. In fact, the entire Tet offensive was a military defeat for the North, which happily sacrificed the lives of the Viet Cong (who they planned to liquidate anyway) in order to achieve a political victory. Victor Davis Hansen has written an excellent summary of the battle (it’s in his book Carnage & Culture) but there isn’t enough about the men who fought the battle, their tactics, their sacrifices, or a detailed assessment of what can be learned from it. I thought the book Black Hawk Down (not the movie, which was a stupid shoot ’em up) was a fine example of what can be learned from an observant and thoughtful historian, and I am hoping for more of the same.
Excellent read. I was on 1st convoy into City of Hue..1st Marine Sniper Platoon, 70% casualties, wounded 4 times.
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