Huế 1968: A Turning Point of the American War in Vietnam by Mark Bowden
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Riveting account of the battle the was a turning point in the Vietnam war.
Mark Bowden meticulously writes of one battle in the Vietnam War. His argument is that this battle, the American fight to take back the city Hue from the Vietcong was the battle that showed America that they were fighting a futile war.
Bowden treats the subject with sensitivity and objectivity. His chapters rotate from members of the Vietcong, whose stories he got years later, to the American marines who fought them and the hapless civilians who were getting slaughtered or left homeless by both sides.
Bowden's description of the war and the individual battles and individual experiences of several of the men who were there pulls the reader in and this reader was as horrified as much as she was enthralled. The author makes you feel as if you were there and you suffer along with each person as we learn their story.
The only negative I would give is the occasional use of raw language. Not so much when he is quoting marines. If anyone has the right to drop some "F" bombs it's marines who serve in wars. My objection is the gratuitous use of the word, as when he uses it in his chapter titles. That does not come across as honest, but rather like the author is trying to prove how edgy he is, which I find rather juvenile.
But that one objection aside, I really liked this book. I learned so much about the Vietnam war, particularly this battle in a key city and all the individuals involved. Yes, that is what I liked most. This war was not fought by "armies". It was fought by individuals, each with a life that was and is sacred as all life is. There was a lot of waste of sacred life and, thanks to Bowden's realistic descriptive narrative, I felt those lives deeply.
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