In Country: Remembering the Vietnam War

In Country: Remembering the Vietnam War

by John Prados
     
 

Young Americans went to South Vietnam and fought in a fierce war they barely understood. For a year they experienced an exotic land, strove to learn how to fight—and survive—looking eagerly ahead to their return from "The Nam." Their searing experiences varied by where they were assigned and at what point in the war they served. The Vietnamese adversaries

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Overview

Young Americans went to South Vietnam and fought in a fierce war they barely understood. For a year they experienced an exotic land, strove to learn how to fight—and survive—looking eagerly ahead to their return from "The Nam." Their searing experiences varied by where they were assigned and at what point in the war they served. The Vietnamese adversaries, North and South, were defending their homes, fighting with no hope of ending the war other than by winning it. Too often the ordeals of those on both sides have been told by others—journalists, historians, even generals.

In an invaluable corrective, John Prados, one of our leading interpreters of the Vietnam War, opens a window into the visceral reality of those on the ground in Vietnam. His carefully chosen and thoughtfully introduced anthology gathers the voices—in narrative and poetry—of men and women; Americans and Vietnamese (both of the North and South); officers, enlisted men, and civilians. All the selections feature individuals’ experiences of war or witnessing specific events and the realities of being caught up in them. Bridging the chasm between history and memory, together they offer an intense, even blazing, testimonial to the human condition in war.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
National Security Archives historian Prados, who has long specialized in the Vietnam War (Inside the Pentagon Papers), presents a compendium of first-person accounts of the American war. Although most of the voices are those of American service personnel and North and South Vietnamese military veterans, Prados also includes a sprinkling of civilian participants, including CIA operatives. (All of the words are excerpted from previously published material.) The book contains a brief overview of the war’s history, and short introductions to each entry. The voices offer a message that is not political, writes Prados. Rather, “it is one built from the ordeals and adventures of men and women thrown into the maelstrom of this war.” Some of those men and women will be familiar to students of the Vietnam War: Philip Caputo, Fred Downs, W.D. Ehrhart, Ronald Glasser, David Hackworth, Hal Moore, Colin Powell, Norman Schwarzkopf, Jack Smith, Ray Stubbe, Hugh Thompson, Lynda Van Devanter, Bruce Weigl. A preponderance of the witnesses are officers, and only a scarce handful are support personnel. Still, this is a valuable collection of primary source material that succeeds in the author’s goal of recapturing “the smell and the taste of Vietnam” and the on-the-ground experiences of those who fought there. (Feb.)
Army Magazine
Prados' great gift is his solid structure and commentary that add a context that might—just might—lead to understanding.
The VVA Veteran
A good collection of primary source material that succeeds in the author’s goal of recapturing ‘the smell and the taste’ of Vietnam and the feelings of the vets confronting the land and the adversary.
James H. Willbanks
John Prados performs a valuable service, drawing together the perspectives of those who fought the war on the ground in Vietnam. The result is illuminating, and often moving. He puts faces on those who bore the burden of the bloody fighting on both sides. This is a must-read for military historians and Vietnam War veterans.
Marc Leepson
Nothing illuminates the true nature of war as well as the voices of those who experienced it firsthand. In this valuable volume, John Prados has gathered together an impressive array of first-person testimony from a wide range of individuals who took part in America's long, controversial war in Vietnam. This book provides readers with page after page of insights on the complex nature of that conflict. Highly recommended.
Library Journal
Prados (senior fellow, National Security Archives.; Vietnam: The History of an Unwinnable War, 1945–75) has collected gritty, "grunts-eye view" published memories of the Vietnam War, relying heavily on those of American officers and enlisted men, with some offerings by South Vietnamese soldiers and American noncombatants. Each selection is preceded by helpful remarks by Prados, and the book also includes a brief, useful summary of the war. Since this is a military history, the book emphasizes descriptions by participants in major battles from Ia Drang in 1965 to the My Lai massacre and the Cambodian invasion in 1970. The vividly recounted battles reveal stories of bravery, the importance of helicopter support, the devotion of grunts for their fellow unit members, their mistrust of officers, the horrible living conditions, and the acceptance of death as collateral damage. VERDICT Readers looking for the memories of civilians stationed in Vietnam, nurses, and North Vietnamese soldiers should turn to Christian Appy's Patriots: The Vietnam War Remembered for All Sides and Olga Gruhzit-Hoyt's A Time Remembered: American Women in the Vietnam War. Recommended to general readers of military history and Vietnam-era specialists.—Karl Helicher, Upper Merion Twp. Lib., King of Prussia, PA

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781566638685
Publisher:
Dee, Ivan R. Publisher
Publication date:
12/16/2011
Pages:
344
Sales rank:
1,226,304
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.00(d)

Meet the Author

John Prados is widely recognized as one of the foremost historians of the Vietnam War and of national security affairs. A Columbia University Ph.D., he is a senior fellow at the National Security Archives. His widely reviewed and award-winning books include Presidents' Secret Wars, Pentagon Games, Keepers of the Keys, Inside the Pentagon Papers, The Blood Road, Valley of Decision, The Hidden History of the Vietnam War, Combined Fleet Decoded, and Normandy Crucible: The Decisive Battle that Shaped World War II in Europe. Mr. Prados lives in Silver Spring, Maryland.

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