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

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

by Mark Bowden


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New York Times Bestseller

“An extraordinary feat of journalism . . . full of emotion and color.”—Karl Marlantes, Wall Street Journal

The first battle book from Mark Bowden since his #1 New York Times bestseller Black Hawk Down, Hue 1968 is the story of the centerpiece of the Tet Offensive and a turning point in the American War in Vietnam.

In the early hours of January 31, 1968, the North Vietnamese launched over one hundred attacks across South Vietnam in what would become known as the Tet Offensive. The lynchpin of Tet was the capture of Hue, Vietnam’s intellectual and cultural capital, by 10,000 National Liberation Front troops who descended from hidden camps and surged across the city of 140,000. Within hours the entire city was in their hands save for two small military outposts. American commanders refused to believe the size and scope of the Front’s presence, ordering small companies of marines against thousands of entrenched enemy troops. After several futile and deadly days, Lieutenant Colonel Ernie Cheatham would finally come up with a strategy to retake the city, block by block and building by building, in some of the most intense urban combat since World War II.

With unprecedented access to war archives in the U.S. and Vietnam and interviews with participants from both sides, Bowden narrates each stage of this crucial battle through multiple viewpoints. Played out over 24 days and ultimately costing 10,000 lives, the Battle of Hue was by far the bloodiest of the entire war. When it ended, the American debate was never again about winning, only about how to leave. Hue 1968 is a gripping and moving account of this pivotal moment.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780802127006
Publisher: Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
Publication date: 06/06/2017
Pages: 608
Sales rank: 572,125
Product dimensions: 6.30(w) x 8.80(h) x 2.00(d)

About the Author

Mark Bowden is the author of thirteen books, including the #1 New York Times bestseller Black Hawk Down. He reported at the Philadelphia Inquirer for twenty years and now writes for the Atlantic, Vanity Fair, and other magazines. He is also the writer in residence at the University of Delaware. His most recent book is The Three Battles of Wanat: And Other True Stories.

Read an Excerpt

Word passed quickly from foxhole to foxhole that they were going. DiLeo felt … what? “Relief” wasn’t a strong enough word. He felt a stab of hope, of exhilarating hope. He had seen so much in the past two days. He had helped carry the shattered bodies of the wounded to the helicopters for evacuation. He had seen the man whose warmth comforted him in his hole through a freezing wet night lying stiff and dead. He had seen two men, one of them his good friend, simply erased from existence in an instant. He had been shot, albeit not badly. It had made him feel, not imagine or think, but feel how temporary was his life, and how, from one breath to the next, it could end. This shift in his thinking was subtle but profound. It moved him from fear to acceptance. At a certain point he stopped fearing death or horrible maiming, he just expected it. And now came this: They might get away! It was the first glimmer of hope in two days. He knew that any attempt to move would be dangerous, probably fatal, but that was okay with him. He had come to grips with that. This was a chance. Anything was better than waiting in that hole trying to figure out what to think about in his last moments on earth. He’d rather die trying to live.


On the appointed day, early in January, Quang left the city with Ngu to supervise the loading. Into the bottom went piles of AK47s, bazooka tubes, and grenades. The egg baskets were planted with ammo. He stayed behind as Ngu set off. Quang could see how nervous he was, so he suggested that he drink some of the moonshine.

“Not enough to get drunk,” he said, “but enough to look drunk.”

Ngu’s face flushed whenever he drank even a little alcohol. So he looked the part as he approached the checkpoints, and played it up. He staggered and bellowed and waved to the guards, offering them his presents, and pleading with them to let him pass quickly, “Because I am drunk and I’m worried I’m not going to get to Hue on time, and my wife will kill me.”

Quang waited back in Kim Do through that entire day. He did not learn until the following afternoon that his “Uncle” had made the trip safely, and that his men had picked up the shipment. His force now was ready, armed. He could hardly believe it. As he saw it, the miracle proved the truth of Ho’s teachings, that the Party and the army were not enough. Real victory could only come from the people.

Table of Contents

Part One: The Infiltration
Part Two: The Fall of Hue
Part Three: Futility and Denial
Part Four: Counterattack in the Triangle and Disaster at La Chu
Part Five: Sweeping the Triangle
Part Six: Taking Back the Citadel
Vietnamese Glossary
Source Notes

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Hue 1968: A Turning Point of the American War in Vietnam 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 15 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Excellent reprise of popular views of Vietnam using the battle of Hue as a metaphor for the Vietnam conflict. A superlative weaving of news articles and first-hand narratives into a very readable, engaging story. Could not put it down. However, his unsubstantiated and speculative claims in the narrative, such as that bored marines shooting civilians for sport "probably" contributed to the death toll found in mass graves from communist purges, puts this work in the hagiographer tradition of Karnow and not in the historian tradition of Beevor and Atkinson. Many of his citations do not provide sufficient detail for the reader to draw thier own conclusion, as the author frequently merely cites an archive in general terms and does not provided the actual text of a source or sufficient context for the author's conclusions for the reader to evaluate the author's interpretation for themselves, or even the location in the archive where the source material would be found. Better editorial supervision of conclusions in the historical narrative, separating conclusions into a separate section, and deeper and broader citations to support the narrative and explain his conclusions would make this a more compelling work.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Must read. The young boys serving in Vietnam were used for egos and politics. They and the American people were deceived.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Tremendous observation of the battle and the whole Tet offensive. Great heroism all around.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
An interesting look into a battle that garnered little attention throughout the history of the Vietnam war
Bukowski More than 1 year ago
I have mixed feelings about the book. On the plus side, it was quite enthralling to read about the Marines fighting there. Personal anecdotes abound and provide color. Yet, its coverage was uneven. For example, at the beginning of the book the VC/NVA were portrayed in heroic terms, sacrificing everything and buoyed by "idealism" and optimism. Unfortunately, their reaction after losing the battle is not discussed. Finally, Bowden shows himself to be a journalist by extolling the anti-American screeds of bureau journalists like Halberstam, Karnow and Sheehan. To make matters worse, he says things like "the strategic hamlet program was a failure" with no documentation or footnote - as if that point of view is sato voce. In light of contemporary research this and many other sweeping statements by Bowden are questionable at best.
raymondm More than 1 year ago
Hue 1968 is another deeply researched book by Mark Bowden. In he offers a well-balanced history of the players in this historic battle that as he says put the nail on the coffin in Vietnam. What makes it difficult for those of us who served at that time is reliving the anguish and suffering of the brave men on both sides who suffered and died for what purpose. The grunts, the ordinary men and women who fought suffered and died in that battle on both sides were misled by the leaders of the US and South Vietnam, and of North Vietnam. None the less, the book is an outstanding example of the folly of getting involved in a civil war. It’s definitely a very good read.
R_Phy More than 1 year ago
This account of the battle for Hue is simply an outstanding piece of work. Mark Bowden's research is accurate and his perspective is fair, balanced and viewpoints from both sides. I highly recommend this book for anyone interested in history...especially the history of the Viet Nam war. Well done Mr. Bowden.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very detailed, professionally written. Recommended to several other vets.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Well written filled with fact and details that truly describe the battle which turned the tide of support for the I'll advised war.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Thorough research via interviews of front line warrors on both sides of the battle. JFK, Westmorland and Marine generals in denial allow a bad situation become a travesty. NVA and VC perspectve also nieve but succesful. Author fairly objective until the epolog where he brushes over the thousands of boat people, thousands executed and fact that Abrams actually eliminated the VC over the subseqent 5 years and Teddy Kennedy and Co. reniged on our promis of air support
Marine11 More than 1 year ago
To much political political bull. Didn't want to hear the authors political feelings. Didn't cover enough of the Marine Corps battles. Then he blames the destruction of the city on the Marines we know of course the NVA had nothing to do with it of course.
white56PW More than 1 year ago
Outstanding! Reads as if you were there! Buy it!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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