Gary Anderson, a retired Marine Corps colonel, reviewed Brutal Battles of Vietnam: America's Deadliest Days for the Washington Times.
During the Paris Peace talks in the early 1970s, American Col. Harry Summers was talking to his North Vietnamese counterpart during a break. Summers reportedly told the Vietnamese that we had won every battle in the war. The Vietnamese replied, “That is true, but it is also irrelevant.” It is not irrelevant to the surviving veterans who fought those battles or to the families of Americans who did not return.
With the exception of Hue City and Khe Sanh, most of the big battles have faded into history. We are as far in time from Vietnam today as we were from World War I in 1967, and the sacrifices of those who fought the war are in danger of being forgotten by the majority of the American people. The Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) strive mightily to keep those memories alive. “Brutal Battles of Vietnam” is an attempt to recreate those desperate battles largely in the words of those who fought them.
The book is the culmination of a seven-year project of articles from the VFW magazine. Each chapter focuses on a specific battle and there are separate chapters on the naval and air wars. The book is edited by Richard K. Kolb, who wrote the majority of the magazine articles that make up the anthology. Each chapter is painstakingly researched and the interviews with participants of the battles represent primary sources in a way that has not been done in any of the literature of the war that I have come across. In addition to some excellent photographs, this readable volume lists the award winners of the highest medals for heroism.
… When Americans think of Vietnam, they generally see it as a tragic mistake. A few years ago, I talked with a former Soviet-era Russian general who had another view. He told me that the fact that we had fought for so long to contain communism in Vietnam, and recovered so quickly that in four years we would wage a counterattack against the Soviet incursion in Afghanistan, had a profoundly sobering effect in the Kremlin, and may well have contributed materially to the decline of the Soviet Union. At least someone was paying attention.
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