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

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The books I picked & why

The Vietnam War Reexamined

By Michael G. Kort,

Book cover of The Vietnam War Reexamined

Why did I love 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".

By Michael G. Kort,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Vietnam War Reexamined as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Going beyond the dominant orthodox narrative to incorporate insight from revisionist scholarship on the Vietnam War, Michael G. Kort presents the case that the United States should have been able to win the war, and at a much lower cost than it suffered in defeat. Presenting a study that is both historiographic and a narrative history, Kort analyzes important factors such as the strong nationalist credentials and leadership qualities of South Vietnam's Ngo Dinh Diem; the flawed military strategy of 'graduated response' developed by Robert McNamara; and the real reasons South Vietnam collapsed in the face of a massive North…

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

Why did I love 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.

By Phillip B. Davidson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Vietnam at War as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This is a definitive and comprehensive account of the three Vietnam wars starting with the French, through Dien Bien Phu to the American involvement. The author was, for part of the Vietnam war, Chief of US Military Intelligence. Here he presents an account of the fighting from a multi-conceptual level that of direction, planning and implementation. Throughout, Giap is the central figure and the points of view of North and South Vietnam are clearly identified.

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

Why did I love 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. 

By Lewis Sorley,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Better War as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

FIRST HARVEST EDITION. 2000 Harcourt trade paperback, Lewis Sorley (Westmoreland: The General Who Lost Vietnam). Neglected by scholars and journalists alike, the years of conflict in Vietnam from 1968 to 1975 offer surprises not only about how the war was fought, but about what was achieved. Drawing from thousands of hours of previously unavailable (and still classified) tape-recorded meetings between the highest levels of the American military command in Vietnam, A Better War is an insightful, factual, and superbly documented history of these final years. - Amazon

Book cover of Strategy for Defeat: Vietnam in Retrospect

Why did I love 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.

By U.S. Grant Sharp,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Strategy for Defeat as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A former Commander in Chief during the Vietnam war examines official documents, dispatches, and high-level decision-making processes to critcally analyze American military and civilian strategy

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

Why did I love 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. 

By Lien-Hang T. Nguyen,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Hanoi's War as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

While most historians of the Vietnam War focus on the origins of U.S. involvement and the Americanization of the conflict, Lien-Hang T. Nguyen examines the international context in which North Vietnamese leaders pursued the war and American intervention ended. This riveting narrative takes the reader from the marshy swamps of the Mekong Delta to the bomb-saturated Red River Delta, from the corridors of power in Hanoi and Saigon to the Nixon White House, and from the peace negotiations in Paris to high-level meetings in Beijing and Moscow, all to reveal that peace never had a chance in Vietnam.

Hanoi's War…

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in the Vietnam War, Vietnam, and war?

9,000+ 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 war.

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