"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"--Amazon.com.
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.