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

by Mark Bowden

Hardcover, 2017







"With ... 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 points of view. Played out over twenty-four days of terrible fighting and ultimately costing 10,000 combatant and civilian 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"

User reviews

LibraryThing member LamSon
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.
LibraryThing member jwrudn
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.
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LibraryThing member muddyboy
A graphic and tremendously well researched book on the battle for the city of Hue which the author sees as the crucial turning point (the Tet Offensive) that will seal America's fate in the Vietnam War. Both sides misjudged the attack - the Communists believing the citizenry would rise up and support them and the American leadership misjudging the abilities and commitment of the North Vietnamese. If there is a villain it is General Westmoreland that feeds President Johnson and the American people over optimistic information throughout. A great study.… (more)



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