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Book Recommendations for Military Histories of the Vietnam War


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Hello all,

There are a million books about Vietnam, but I'm wondering if anyone knows of a work that details things from start to finish, with a focus less on the politics, and more on how the war was conducted, how units were deployed, etc. Alternately, a book that does this but just from the USAF/USN airpower side would be great too.

 

I've found myself digging into various topics, but never really find anything particularly detailed. For example, I'd love to know more about Pierce Arrow. I don't see much about loadouts, or how the mission was undertaken. Given the detail we have for other major conflicts, I expected that I'd be swimming in information. Or maybe I just can't Google like I used to.

Anyhow, any recommendations would be greatly appreciated! Thank you!

Edited by Specter1075
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  • Specter1075 changed the title to Book Recommendations for Military Histories of the Vietnam War

if you only read one book, start with "A Hundred Miles Of Bad Road."  Avoid the rest of Nolan's garbage. he's one of the guys that gets his information off of after action reports where some ticket puncher livens things up to make himself look good. Although the one Nolan did about Marryanne is fairly decent, but lacking as much as it's good. The book by Joe Galloway "We Were Soldiers" is pretty good and accurate. The best Khe Sahn book I've read is by Joe or maybe Roy Stubbs titles "Valley Of Decision". Very good book, and pretty danged accurate. SOG by John Plaster is excellent. I've met several people he interviewed in the book. Thud Ridge is very good as well as Route Pack Six. Lastly read Robin Olds book Fighter Pilot. Great read and pretty factual. Lindeners books on LRRPS seem to be very well written, and he seems to tell it right.

gary

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If you are interested in the air battles side of things try "Going Downtown" , by Jack Broughton.  Eye opening account of the mismanagement of war.

 

Geoff M

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https://etd.auburn.edu/handle/10415/595

 

one of the best aviation reads I'ver ever encountered. has navy and air force (more emphasis on USAF, and SAC hijacking tacair) before, during, and after the war (lessons learned,how mistakes happened, and how that applied to the teen series, A-10)  entertaining and FREE at that link in PDF form. 

 

top read most people have seemingly missed. its a jewel. 

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While not an all encompassing book about the war, one of the best books that I have read about the air war in Vietnam is Bury Us Upside Dow.  It is about the Misty Fast FAC in the F-100.  I could not put it down.  It sort does cover the Misty program from beginning to end with the F-100 and if I remember correctly they do talk about mission specifics.

 

I'm working my way through Vietnam: An Epic Tragedy 1945-1975 by Max Hastings at the present.  It is a comprehensive look at the conflict.  I would suggest that but it may be more general than what you are looking for.

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Thanks Okthree! I'll have a look at them. 

Yeah, for all the books that exist out there, I'm surprised there isn't a complete breakdown of the war in one volume. Stuff that jumps to mind is something like Chandler's The Campaigns of Napoleon, or the Tom Clancy stuff that broke down the air and ground war in Iraq in 1990/91. I like to read things that are comprehensive in nature, though not too general, and then from that determine which specific elements I want to read more about.

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The 11 Days of Christmas is a great book about the B-52 bombing campaign in Dec of 72.   To the Limit is a good book about an Army Huey pilot.  

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3 hours ago, 11bee said:

The 11 Days of Christmas is a great book about the B-52 bombing campaign in Dec of 72.   To the Limit is a good book about an Army Huey pilot.  

I second the recommendation for 11 Days of Christmas.  A very good account of Linebacker II

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Possibly a bit too general but Vietnam Air Wars by Rene J Francillon. Covers 1945 to 1975, l'AdA, Aernonavale, USAF, USN, USMC, US Army, VNAF, NVAF & one chapter on others. 

If you like reading spreadsheets I also recommend Tonkin Gulf Yacht Club by the same author. 

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Shameless plug for "Bloody Sixteen." 

 

Other than that, I'd suggest "Alpha Strike" by Jeffery Levinson. 

Barrett Tillman and Steve Coonts just published "Dragon's Jaw." It looks at all the failed attempts to take down the Thanh Hoa bridge during the course of the entire war.  

"Fighter Pilot" by Christina Olds and Ed Rasimus. 

"When Thunder Rolled" by Ed Rasimus.

 

And if you can find it, without paying an arm and a leg, "MiG Killers of Yankee Station" by Michael O'Connor.

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Also - "One Day in a Very Long War".   An outstanding account of the air combat that occurred on May 10, 1972 by Jeff Ethell (RIP).  

 

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Can also recommend "To Hanoi and Back: The U.S. AirForce and North VietNam, 1966-1973" by Wayne Thompson. Discuess the evolution of the AF operations in/over North VietNam (and Laos & Cambodia). Includes history of the bomber vs fighter pilot AF leadership evolution, operational desires vs capabilities, introduction of and impact of "smart weapon" technology in achieving (or failing to achieve) desired outcomes. It is lenghty but very complete. Well worth the read. 

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6 hours ago, 11bee said:

Also - "One Day in a Very Long War".   An outstanding account of the air combat that occurred on May 10, 1972 by Jeff Ethell (RIP).  

 

that's a real good one that will undo quite a few tall tales. 

gary

On 11/5/2020 at 10:09 PM, Falconxlvi said:

Thanks for the compliment.  I am really looking forward to their late “E” and the “F”.  It’s definitely a kit worth the price.  Very well detailed, excellent fit and instructions, and very comprehensive decals!   

 

On 11/27/2020 at 1:27 PM, habu2 said:

 

You need a new hobby.....

 

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If you want a very quick read and also turn your hair white, then look for a book titled "No Greater Love."  Another you can't put it down book. I've been hearing a steady flow of rumors that a new and much more definitive book on LZ Ripcord is one the way from actual players. I'll be all over that one as I know folks from there. 

gary

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