The best books about the Vietnam War from a commando who served there

James McLeroy Author Of Bait: The Battle of Kham Duc
By James McLeroy

Who am I?

In 1965, I voluntarily enlisted in the Army as a draft exempt, 26-year-old high school teacher. After completing the infantry officer, airborne, ranger, jumpmaster, special forces, and jungle warfare courses, in 1967 I was assigned to a Special Forces A-team in I Corps, Vietnam. In 1968, I volunteered for SOG, a top-secret recon-commando unit at a small, remote SF jungle camp that was later attacked by 3,000 to 4,000 North Vietnamese Army troops. With a master’s degree in history, I have since studied all aspects of the Vietnam War. Gregory Sanders, also a Vietnam veteran, and I researched, wrote, and in 2019 published a unique tactical, operational, and strategic narrative and analysis of that battle titled BAIT: the Battle of Kham Duc

I wrote...

Bait: The Battle of Kham Duc

By James McLeroy, Gregory Sanders,

Book cover of Bait: The Battle of Kham Duc

What is my book about?

The strategic potential of the three-day attack of two NVA regiments on Kham Duc, a remote and isolated Army Special Forces camp, on the eve of the first Paris peace talks in May 1968, was so significant that former President Lyndon Johnson included it in his memoirs. This gripping, original, eyewitness narrative and thoroughly researched analysis of a widely misinterpreted battle at the height of the Vietnam War radically contradicts all the other published accounts of it. In addition to the tactical details of the combat narrative, the authors consider the grand strategies and political contexts of the U.S. and North Vietnamese leaders.

"The most authentic account to date of the historic battle of Kham Duc in the Vietnam War, it convincingly explains why, contrary to all other accounts, it was an American tactical victory. Well written, impressively researched, and filled with new details, BAIT is highly recommended for scholars, students, and general readers of military history." -- Robert Turner, Professor and Distinguished Fellow, University of Virginia, Vietnam War veteran

The books I picked & why

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The Vietnam War Reexamined

By Michael G. Kort,

Book cover of The Vietnam War Reexamined

Why this book?

The Vietnam War cannot be understood without understanding two opposing groups of historians of it: the orthodox and the revisionist. This is the most concise, balanced, and objective analysis of those contradictory versions of the war. The leftist version is an anti-war, anti-U.S. military, anti-South Vietnamese government interpretation that sees the war as unwinnable and morally shameful U.S. imperialism. It rejects all revisionist arguments to the contrary, such as the difference between the U.S. political failure in America and the U.S. military success in Vietnam, as "conservative counterfactual speculation".

Vietnam at War: The History: 1946-1975

By Phillip B. Davidson,

Book cover of Vietnam at War: The History: 1946-1975

Why this book?

Balanced, objective, and authoritatively informed, this is the best single military history of both the First Indochina War (1945 to 1954) and the Second Indochina War (1957 to 1975). Lt. General Davidson was the intelligence chief for two Military Assistance Command Vietnam (MACV) commanders, General Westmoreland and General Abrams. His book provides the background information and expert analysis necessary for understanding what is called the Vietnam War in America and the American War in Vietnam.

A Better War: The Unexamined Victories and Final Tragedy of America's Last Years in Vietnam

By Lewis Sorley,

Book cover of A Better War: The Unexamined Victories and Final Tragedy of America's Last Years in Vietnam

Why this book?

This is the best military history of the war from mid-1968 to 1974 during the MACV command of General Abrams. It is essential for understanding the U.S. troop withdrawal period and the combat performance of the revitalized South Vietnamese Army. With his Vietnam staff service, CIA experience, and Ph.D. in history, Sorley provides a unique revisionist narrative and in-depth analysis of those critical but ignored and misinterpreted years. 

Strategy for Defeat: Vietnam in Retrospect

By U.S. Grant Sharp,

Book cover of Strategy for Defeat: Vietnam in Retrospect

Why this book?

As a Vietnam combat veteran at the height of the Vietnam War, I was and still am infuriated by the gross misrepresentation of the war by the U.S. media. It conceals the extreme vulnerability of North Vietnam, where the war originated and was always controlled, to a truly strategic air campaign that could have ended the war in less than a year and made their conquest of South Vietnam impossible. This book by the former commander of all U.S. forces in SE Asia explains exactly how.

Hanoi's War: An International History of the War for Peace in Vietnam

By Lien-Hang T. Nguyen,

Book cover of Hanoi's War: An International History of the War for Peace in Vietnam

Why this book?

This is the only insider, in-depth analysis of the North Vietnamese Politburo and its effective leader, Le Duan, from 1960 to 1975. Because the author is a native Vietnamese speaker, an academic historian,  and opposes the U.S. role in the war she was allowed by the Communist government to spend years in North Vietnam researching in previously closed archives. Her book, published in the U.S. free of censorship, is not Communist propaganda. It is a unique, objectively critical, revisionist analysis of the men who started and controlled the “war for peace” from beginning to end. 

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in the Vietnam War, Vietnam, and peace?

5,215 authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about the Vietnam War, Vietnam, and peace.

The Vietnam War Explore 128 books about the Vietnam War
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And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like Triumph Forsaken: The Vietnam War, 1954-1965, Abandoning Vietnam: How America Left and South Vietnam Lost Its War, and Friends, and Country: A Memoir if you like this list.