Fans of Black Hawk Down and Killing Pablo will not want to miss Bowden’s latest. Even if the Vietnam War is not a primary interest of yours I recommend checking out this book. There is still much to learn from this war that is now almost 50 years in our past and Bowden has the writing skills to explain this important battle to all the generations that have come since.
Mark Bowden has written a well-researched and detailed book while keeping it interesting with not only details about military tactics. and battles but also the personal stories of the people who lived through the battle of Hue. Starting off the book with a history of Vietnam's occupation by different countries helped explain how America ended up in a war that was never going to be won. The book really stands out by connecting the horrendous daily reality of this 26-day battle with the personal stories of soldiers, marines, and officers who did their best to get through day by day and to live long enough to find themselves on their way home to the United States.
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.