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Hue 1968: A Turning Point of the American…

Hue 1968: A Turning Point of the American War in Vietnam (2017)

by Mark Bowden

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At the end of January 1968, the beginning of the Tet holiday, the North Vietnamese army (NLA) and Viet Cong (VC) launched simultaneous attacks on cities in South Vietnam including Saigon. They had thought that the people would rise up to support them and this would lead to the overthrow of South Vietnamese government. This did not happen and the attacks were mostly suppressed after a few days. However, in Hue, the NLA and VC had managed, in the weeks preceding Tet, to amass 10,000 troops in and around the city without detection. In the early morning of January 31, they over ran the city securing it all except for two small outposts. Vastly outnumbered, the outposts hung on and thus begins a grinding month-long campaign to retake the city. The failure of high command to recognize the number of disciplined, well-trained NLA troops led them to insist repeatedly that the Marines attack against superior odds.

Bowden, the author of Black Hawk Down, describes the battle by following the experiences of the Marines and, to lesser extent, the Vietnamese, who fought it. I had trouble keeping the many participants straight but that made the book no less compelling. It is long, 539 pages, excluding notes, but once I started reading I could not stop. The book is not for the faint of heart: casualties were heavy and deaths to civilians were many; descriptions are often gruesome. The fear, miserable conditions, stench and exhaustion are palpable. In the end, both sides claimed victory, but the battle changed the way Americans thought about the war in Vietnam. ( )
  jwrudn | Oct 2, 2017 |
An exhaustive, in-depth look at Hue, probably best suited for those with an intense interest in the Vietnam War.
  Unreachableshelf | Oct 2, 2017 |
This was a very good look at one of the most pivotal battles in the entire Vietnam War. Note to publisher: next time, include the index in the book. ( )
  LamSon | Aug 1, 2017 |
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Wisdom comes to us when it can no longer do any good.
- Gabriel Garcia Marquez
For Gene Roberts
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Hours before daylight on January 31, 1968, the first day of Tet, the Lunar New Year, nearly ten thousand North Vietnamese Army (NVA) and Vietnam Cong (VC) troops descended from hidden camps in the Central Highlands and overran the city of Hue, the historical capital of Vietnam.
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