From the Publisher
“A GUT-WRENCHING ACCOUNT OF WHAT WAR IS REALLY ALL ABOUT, which should be ‘must’ reading for all Americans, especially those who have been led to believe that war is some kind of Nintendo game.”
–GENERAL H. NORMAN SCHWARZKOPF
“Hal Moore and Joe Galloway have captured the terror and exhilaration, the comradeship and self-sacrifice, the brutality and compassion that are the dark heart of war.”
–NEIL SHEEHAN, author of A Bright Shining Lie
“A powerful and epic story . . . This is the best account of infantry combat I have ever read, and the most significant book to come out of the Vietnam War.”
–COLONEL DAVID HACKWORTH, author of the bestseller About Face
A stunning achievement, a book that is not merely a book,but rather a monument to all the young men who were in thela Drang in those fateful November dayspaper and words withthe permanence of marble. I read it and thought of The Red Badge of Courage, the highest compliment I can think of.
A powerful and epic story . . . raw, gutty, and eye-stinging. This is the best account of infantry combat I have ever read, and the most significant book to come out of the Vietnam War.
New York Times Book Review
There are stories here that freeze the blood....The men who fought at Ia Drang could have no finer memorial than this one.
Wall Street Journal
Between experiencing combat and reading about it lies a vast chasm. But this book makes you almost smell it.
H. Norman Schwarzkopf
We Were Soldiers Once . . . and Young is a great book of militaryhistory, written the way military history should be written. It is agut-wrenching account of what war is really about, which shouldbe 'must' reading for all Americans, especially those who havebeen led to believe that war is some kind of Nintendo game.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
On Nov. 14, 1965, the 1st Battalion of the 7th Cavalry, commanded by Lt. Col. Moore and accompanied by UPI reporter Galloway, helicoptered into Vietnam's remote Ia Drang Valley and found itself surrounded by a numerically superior force of North Vietnamese regulars. Moore and Galloway here offer a detailed account, based on interviews with participants and on their own recollections, of what happened during the four-day battle. Much more than a conventional battle study, the book is a frank record of the emotional reactions of the GIs to the terror and horror of this violent and bloody encounter. Both sides claimed victory, the U.S. calling it a validation of the newly developed doctrine of airmobile warfare. Supplemented with maps, the memoir is a vivid re-creation of the first major ground battle of the Vietnam War.
Ia Drang, in November 1965, was the first major battle fought by U.S. troops in Vietnam. It was also one of the fiercest. As a lieutenant colonel, Moore commanded the battalion that initiated the fighting. War correspondent Galloway accompanied Moore's troopers from start to finish. We Were Soldiers Once movingly depicts Ia Drang through the eyes of junior officers and enlisted men of the 1st Cavalry Division and their North Vietnamese opponents. The authors convincingly present Ia Drang as an archetype of a self-defeating U.S. strategy that emphasized wearing down a determined and skillful enemy on the battlefield. The result was an unacceptably high level of American losses for the results achieved. One of this book's most telling episodes is its depiction of an army so unprepared to deal with casualties that some telegrams notifying families of a son or husband killed at Ia Drang were delivered by Yellow Cab! Recommended for all collections.-- D.E. Showalter, U.S. Air Force Acad., Colorado Springs
This extraordinary account of the two major engagements in the Ia Drang Valley in November 1965 is one of the year's best books about the Vietnam War. Written by one of the battalion commanders in the battle and a journalist who witnessed it, the book draws comprehensively on both published sources and survivors' accounts. The result provides a portrait of the U.S. Army at the opening of the Vietnam War as well as gripping accounts of infantry combat that exceed in emotional impact the majority of war novels. Additional dimension is added through the contributions of the widows and orphans of some of the battle's dead. It is impossible to imagine any significant Vietnam collection's being without this book.
Read an Excerpt
In thy faint slumbers I by thee have watch'd
And heard thee murmur tales of iron wars...
-Shakespeare, Henry IV, Part One, Act II, Scene 3
This story is about time and memories. The time was 1965, a different kind of year, a watershed year when one era was ending in America and another was beginning. We felt it then, in the many ways our lives changed so suddenly, so dramatically, and looking back on it from a quarter-century gone we are left in no doubt. It was the year America decided to directly intervene in the Byzantine affairs of obscure and distant Vietnam. It was the year we went to war. In the broad, traditional sense, that "we" who went to war was all of us, all Americans, though in truth at that time the larger majority had little knowledge of, less interest in, and no great concern with what was beginning so far away.
So this story is about the smaller, more tightly focused "we" of that sentence: the first American combat troops, who boarded World War II-era troopships, sailed to that little-known place, and fought the first major battle of a conflict that would drag on for ten long years and come as near to destroying America as it did to destroying Vietnam.
The Ia Drang campaign was to the Vietnam War what the terrible Spanish Civil War of the 1930s was to World War II: a dress rehearsal; the place where new tactics, techniques, and weapons were tested, perfected, and validated. In the Ia Drang, both sides claimed victory and both sides drew lessons, some of them dangerously deceptive, which echoed and resonated throughout the decade of bloody fighting and bitter sacrifice that was to come.
This is about what we did, what we saw, what we suffered in a thirty-four-day campaign in the Ia Drang Valley of the Central Highlands of South Vietnam in November 1965, when we were young and confident and patriotic and our countrymen knew little and cared less about our sacrifices.
Another war story, you say? Not exactly, for on the more important levels this is a love story, told in our own words and by our own actions. We were the children of the 1950s and we went where we were sent because we loved our country. We were draftees, most of us, but we were proud of the opportunity to serve that country just as our fathers had served in World War II and our older brothers in Korea. We were members of an elite, experimental combat division trained in the new art of airmobile warfare at the behest of President John F. Kennedy.
Just before we shipped out to Vietnam the Army handed us the colors of the historic 1st Cavalry Division and we all proudly sewed on the big yellow-and-black shoulder patches with the horsehead silhouette. We went to war because our country asked us to go, because our new President, Lyndon B. Johnson, ordered us to go, but more importantly because we saw it as our duty to go. That is one kind of love.
What People are saying about this
"A stunning achievement."
General H. Norman Schwarzkopf
"A great book of military history."