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The Village by Bing West
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The Village (edition 2003)

by Bing West

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1083159,209 (3.97)2
Member:jonathanpfeeney
Title:The Village
Authors:Bing West
Info:Pocket Books (2003), Mass Market Paperback, 400 pages
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The Village by Bing West

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I ead this book while working with the USMC in Helmand Province, Afghanistan. It gave me a good perspective on counter-insurgency tactics. ( )
  sherrihs | Jul 28, 2018 |
I knew a couple of marines that participated in this embedding program. It was very effective. This is an excellent history of how it worked in one village in Vietnam. ( )
  mfrerichs | Feb 2, 2013 |
The Village is an account of former Marine (and author) Bing West’s time in Vietnam with one of the USMCs Combined Action Platoons (CAP). West has written a very interesting account of infantry combat and of the Vietnam War that is not well known. There are no huge or grand battles in this book, just a lot of small skirmishes and a few larger firefights with local Vietcong elements. Essentially, the CAPs were a small group of Marines, in this book, a squad, which was sent to live in a small village called Binh Nghia for two years. During that time, they would develop relations with the locals, work to gain their trust, fortify the area, train the local militia (called popular forces), and keep the enemy out of the village.

Interestingly, West chose to write the book from the perspective of an unnamed observer. In a sense, while he was present for most of the events that are described in the book, he never refers to himself in the first person. He’s written the book from the standpoint of looking at the events objectively, rather than how he felt about them at the time. It’s a tad odd at first, since it’s almost written like a novel, but once you understand the almost omniscient style of writing West has chosen, it does work at providing some clarity to what went down.

Ultimately, what we see is a squad of Marines, operating away from most traditional military command & control structures, and surviving against a constantly prodding enemy presence while simultaneously gaining the respect and trust of the local villagers. It’s a very different account of warfare as we know from the usual war memoirs and it’s a very interesting look at another way to fight a guerilla war. We slowly see the Marines bond with the villagers they are protecting, are excited by their triumphs and successes, and are saddened every time the squad sustains a casualty or suffers a defeat.

My main critique of the book is, while the writing is good, the constant descriptions of the patrols and sneaking around do get a bit repetitive. As mentioned before, there is no set-piece battle in this book, just a lot of small actions. After awhile, all the action begins to read the same. Overall, I’d give The Village a solid 4.5 out of 5. It’s an interesting piece on a relatively unknown part of the Vietnam War and how one small squad of Marines fought their own little guerilla war. ( )
  Hiromatsuo | Mar 8, 2012 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0743457579, Mass Market Paperback)

In Black Hawk Down, the fight went on for a day. In We Were Soldiers Once & Young, the fighting lasted three days. In The Village, one Marine squad fought for 495 days -- half of them died.

Few American battles have been so extended, savage and personal. A handful of Americans volunteered to live among six thousand Vietnamese, training farmers to defend their village. Such "Combined Action Platoons" (CAPs) are now a lost footnote about how the war could have been fought; only the villagers remain to bear witness. This is the story of fifteen resolute young Americans matched against two hundred Viet Cong; how a CAP lived, fought and died. And why the villagers remember them to this day.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:10:07 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Few American battles have been so extended, savage, and personal. A handful of Americans volunteered to live among six thousand Vietnamese, training farmers to defend their village. Such "Combined Action Platoons" (CAPs) are not a lost footnote about how the war could have been fought; only the villagers remain to bear witness. This is the story of fifteen resolute young Americans matched against two hundred Viet Cong; how a CAP lived, fought, and died; and why the villagers remember them to this day.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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