The following table lists my recommended nonfiction books about the Vietnam War.
Stolen Valor by B. G. Burkett
I love this book. It is a book all Vietnam veterans should have. It outs the many lies perpetrated by the media about Vietnam vets. The authors expose phony heroes who have become the object of award winning documentaries on national television, liars and fabricators who have become best selling authors, and others who have based their careers on non-existent Vietnam service.
Fighter Combat: Tactics and Maneuvering by Robert L. Shaw
This book provides a detailed description of one-on-one dog-fights and multi-fighter team work tactics, as well as discussions on aircraft and weapons systems. The book explains the tactics and maneuvers fighter pilots must learn to shoot down an enemy airplane in modern aerial combat.
We were Soldiers Once...And Young: Ia Drang--The Battle That Changed The War In Vietnam by Harold G. Moore
Each year, the Commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps selects one book that he believes is both relevant and timeless for reading by all Marines. The Commandant's choice for 1993 was We Were Soldiers Once . . . and Young.
In November 1965, some 450 men of the 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry, under the command of Lt. Col. Hal Moore, were dropped by helicopter into a small clearing in the Ia Drang Valley. They were immediately surrounded by 2,000 North Vietnamese soldiers. Three days later, only two and a half miles away, a sister battalion was chopped to pieces. Together, these actions at the landing zones X-Ray and Albany constituted one of the most savage and significant battles of the Vietnam War.
How these men persevered--sacrificed themselves for their comrades and never gave up--makes a vivid portrait of war at its most inspiring and devastating. General Moore and Joseph Galloway, the only journalist on the ground throughout the fighting, have interviewed hundreds of men who fought there, including the North Vietnamese commanders. This devastating account rises above the specific ordeal it chronicles to present a picture of men facing the ultimate challenge, dealing with it in ways they would have found unimaginable only a few hours earlier. It reveals to us, as rarely before, man's most heroic and horrendous endeavor.
A Bright Shining Lie: John Paul Vann and America in Vietnam by Neil Sheehan
In this magisterial book, a monument of history and biography that was awarded the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize for nonfiction, renowned journalist Neil Sheehan tells the story of Lieutenant Colonel John Paul Vann–"the one irreplaceable American in Vietnam"–and of the tragedy that destroyed that country and the lives of so many Americans.
Outspoken and fearless, John Paul Vann arrived in Vietnam in 1962, full of confidence in America's might and right to prevail. A Bright Shining Lie reveals the truth about the war in Vietnam as it unfolded before Vann's eyes: the arrogance and professional corruption of the U.S. military system of the 1960s, the incompetence and venality of the South Vietnamese army, the nightmare of death and destruction that began with the arrival of the American forces. Witnessing the arrogance and self-deception firsthand, Vann put his life and career on the line in an attempt to convince his superiors that the war should be fought another way. But by the time he died in 1972, Vann had embraced the follies he once decried. He went to his grave believing that the war had been won.
A haunting and critically acclaimed masterpiece, A Bright Shining Lie is a timeless account of the American experience in Vietnam–a work that is epic in scope, piercing in detail, and told with the keen understanding of a journalist who was actually there. Neil Sheehan' s classic serves as a stunning revelation for all who thought they understood the war.
American Patriot: The Life and Wars of Colonel Bud Day by Robert Coram
During the course of his military career, through World War II, Korean, and then Vietnam, Bud Day received every available combat medal, escaped death on no fewer than seven occasions, and spent sixty-seven months as a POW in the infamous Hanoi Hilton, where his roommate was John McCain. Despite incredible torture, Day would not break. He became a hero to POWs everywhere--a man who fought without pause, a prisoner at war.
But Day's story didn't end when he returned home from Vietnam. In fact, in some ways, it was just beginning. He became a passionate advocate for veterans' rights, a hero to those who served their country so bravely and selflessly. And when theClinton Administration cut veterans' medical benefits, Bud Day knew that--however weary his bones, however aged his comrades--it was time to suit up for a new battle, this time against an opponent he had never expected to face: the United States government.
"Superb....[Coram] has researched thoroughly and written fluently and with sympathy for his subject, an authentic hero worthy of many books."
When Thunder Rolled: An F-105 Pilot over North Vietnam by Ed Rasimus
“YOU CAN ALMOST SMELL THE JET FUEL AND GUNPOWDER. You attack the world’s fiercest defenses at 500 knots and share the ultimate thrill of hurling yourself against almost impossible odds–and winning. – JACK BROUGHTON, author of Thud Ridge
Ed Rasimus straps the reader into the cockpit of an F-105 Thunderchief fighter-bomber in his engaging account of the Rolling Thunder campaign in the skies over North Vietnam. Between 1965 and 1968, more than 330 F-105s were lost–the highest loss rate in Southeast Asia–and many pilots were killed, captured, and wounded because of the Air Force’s disastrous tactics. The descriptions of Rasimus’ one hundred missions, some of the most dangerous of the conflict, will satisfy anyone addicted to vivid, heart-stopping aerial combat, as will the details of his transformation from a young man paralyzed with self-doubt into a battle-hardened veteran. His unique perspective, candid analysis, and the sheer power of his narrative rank his memoir with the finest, most entertaining of the war.
“A story that reflects the bravery of the men who flew over enemy territory in a perilous time.” – The Baltimore Chronicle
“[A] MODERN-DAY RED BADGE OF COURAGE .” – JOHN DARRELL SHERWOOD, author of Fast Movers: Jet Pilots and the Vietnam Experience