The Best Books About The Vietnam War

The Books I Picked & Why

Matterhorn: A Novel of the Vietnam War

By Karl Marlantes

Matterhorn: A Novel of the Vietnam War

Why this book?

Karl did a wonderful job in writing Matterhorn. As a Vietnam infantry vet myself, it was easy for me to relate to many of the hardships experienced by the Marines in this story. I also remember those constant never-ending humps through the jungle – at times for days on end and sometimes without sufficient food or water. The story moved easily and I found myself reading way late into the night because I wasn’t able to put my Kindle down. Karl developed his characters and brought the reader into his platoon; I was extremely saddened when many were lost. 


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Last Stand at Khe Sanh: The U.S. Marines' Finest Hour in Vietnam

By Gregg Jones

Last Stand at Khe Sanh: The U.S. Marines' Finest Hour in Vietnam

Why this book?

The Last Stand at Khe Sanh was an intriguing read that documented the 77-day siege of the Marine basecamp. It seems like the author took the after-action reports about the events and then humanized the report and breaking it down to squad-level action to make it more readable. I especially like how he listed names of personnel and followed them through the battle where they either portrayed valor or shows how they died. My close friend, Doc Cecala was wounded during an ambush while on a patrol with B 1/26; most of his platoon was killed and at least half of the second which came to reinforce them. Shot in the shoulder and legs, he managed to crawl back to the gates of the firebase and be rescued.

The book also does justice to the hill fights surrounding the base, showing how they worked through their difficulties: ground attacks, incoming, lack of water, food, and ammunition.


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Legend: The Incredible Story of Green Beret Sergeant Roy Benavidez's Heroic Mission to Rescue a Special Forces Team Caught Beh

By Eric Blehm

Legend: The Incredible Story of Green Beret Sergeant Roy Benavidez's Heroic Mission to Rescue a Special Forces Team Caught Beh

Why this book?

Tells the story of a Special Forces group inserted into Cambodia who unknowingly landed on the fringes of an NVA Division basecamp. They are compromised and fight to survive. Meanwhile, other units are trying to rescue the beleaguered troops and Americans are dying in their attempt. Sgt. Benevidez repels to the ground, treating wounded soldiers, organizing their retreat, and battling the enemy – severely wounded and left for dead. His actions warranted the Medal Of Honor. An uplifting story about a special soldier who actually survived the ordeal.


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Marble Mountain: A Vietnam Memoir

By Bud Willis

Marble Mountain: A Vietnam Memoir

Why this book?

Bud Willis does a wonderful job with this well-told story and offers the reader an in-depth look at the everyday life of these helicopter flying Marine warriors, which isn’t, by the way, a nine to five job. The book follows “BOO” through training and then during his tour as a chopper pilot in Vietnam; his tour lasting 13 months from March, 1966 through April, 1967. The author also has a fantastic sense of humor and wit that sometimes catches me off-guard, making me laugh out loud. When I thought about the antics and games these officers orchestrated – I had to remind myself that even as officers, many of them were only 19 – 21 years old and still kids themselves. However, war steals that naivety and innocence, leaving in its place deep scars, both physically and mentally.


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Call Sign Dracula

By Joe Fair

Call Sign Dracula

Why this book?

Readers will follow the author during his acclimation to war and witness his transition from a scared, naïve and inexperienced eighteen-year-old soldier into a skilled, savvy leader within the course of a year. The author shares his memories, both good and bad. I sometimes found myself laughing out loud at some of the antics he and his fellow soldiers pulled. Joe doesn’t pull any punches and tells it like it was…when friends die, it is very hard to keep a stiff upper lip and continue to function as if nothing happened. He also shows us that the military has both good and bad leaders within its ranks, errors in judgment often resulted in the death of many innocent people.

The life of a grunt is difficult, indeed, Call Sign Dracula will educate civilians – infantry veterans will relate.


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