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Vietnam: A View From the Front Lines,

by Andrew Wiest, Osprey Publishing, 2013

The Vietnam War had nearly as many facets and perspectives as it had participants, and a vast trove of those perspectives are preserved in everything from official records to the letters young men wrote home. In Vietnam: A View From the Front Lines, Andrew Wiest draws from the National Archives, the Center of Military History and the Vietnam Archive at Texas Tech to weave a fascinating narrative. He traces multiple odysseys of soldiers and Marines, helicopter crew and medics, officers, NCOs and privates, from enlistment to aftermath.

The plurality of the grunts come from the 47th Infantry Regiment, but various others also get attention, as do the wives who speak for the husbands who did not return. Training, life and death, combat, convalescence and homecoming are among the aspects covered, with each person’s description giving individual variation on events they all experienced. A lot of their frank descriptions deal with grim realities of war and personal loss.

Wiest, who last year wrote the widely acclaimed The Boys of ’67: Charlie Company’s War in Vietnam, has done a great service to posterity and to the memories of the people featured in A View From the Front Lines. While their stories may have been too short to be told individually at book length, they are no less important and moving.


Originally published in the August 2013 issue of Vietnam. To subscribe, click here.