100 books like Abandoning Vietnam

By James H. Willbanks,

Here are 100 books that Abandoning Vietnam fans have personally recommended if you like Abandoning Vietnam. Shepherd is a community of 9,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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We Were Soldiers Once... and Young

By General Harold Moore, Joseph Galloway,

Book cover of We Were Soldiers Once... and Young

Angel Giacomo Author Of The Jackson MacKenzie Chronicles: In the Eye of the Storm

From the list on war that go beyond the battles.

Who am I?

I am a retired police officer, except I don’t write about law enforcement. I write about the military. My degree is in Political Science and History. I am a meticulous researcher. My emphasis has been on the Vietnam War. My father served in both the U.S. Navy and the Army National Guard. One of my great uncles served in Africa during WWII. His brother during the Occupation of Germany. I have a step-uncle who spent time as a POW in Laos during the Vietnam War. My step-father served in the Army National Guard, and my step-brother in the U.S. Army, Korea and Ft. Hood.

Angel's book list on war that go beyond the battles

Why did Angel love this book?

This book is a complex but excellent read. It is laced with moments of sheer bravery and interludes of absolute terror. Lt. Colonel Hal Moore commanded the 1st Battalion, 7th Regiment, 1st Air Cavalry Division—part of the “The Garryowen” Brigade. This book covers the Battle of the Ia Drang Valley during the early years of U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War, in November 1965. The first major engagement between the forces of North Vietnam and the United States. I want to highlight one thing in the book, “The country that sent us off to war was not there to welcome us home. It no longer existed.” While good in its own right, the movie does not do the book justice. Read this book.

By General Harold Moore, Joseph Galloway,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked We Were Soldiers Once... and Young as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'If you want to know what is was like to go to Vietnam as a young American... and find yourself caught in ferocious, remorseless combat with an enemy as courageous and idealistic as you were, then you must read this book. Moore and Galloway have captured the terror and exhilaration, the comradeship and self-sacrifice, the brutality and compassion that are the dark heart of war' THE TIMES


In November 1965, 450 men of the 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry, under the command of Lt.Col. Hal Moore, were dropped by helicopter into a small…

The Sorrow of War

By Bảo Ninh,

Book cover of The Sorrow of War: A Novel of North Vietnam

Zachary Shore Author Of A Sense of the Enemy: The High Stakes History of Reading Your Rival's Mind

From the list on knowing your enemy.

Who am I?

I am a historian of international conflict who focuses on understanding the enemy. For most of my career, I have studied why we so often misread others, and how those misperceptions lead to war. The current crisis in Ukraine is just one more example of how the parties involved misunderstood each other. I believe that if we could improve this one ability, we would substantially lessen the likelihood, frequency, and severity of war.

Zachary's book list on knowing your enemy

Why did Zachary love this book?

Much of America’s voluminous literature, scholarship, and films on the Vietnam War focus on the suffering of American G.I.s. This novel takes us into the heart of a North Vietnamese soldier struggling with PTSD. It is a gripping, wrenching tale of lives uprooted, futures destroyed, and dreams torn apart. It is a story that humanizes those seen as enemies: average people caught in the madness of war.

By Bảo Ninh,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked The Sorrow of War as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This is the semi-autobiographical account of a soldier's experiences. The hero of the story, Kien, is a captain. After 10 years of war and months as a MIA body-collector, Kien suffers a nervous breakdown in Hanoi as he tries to re-establish a relationship with his former sweetheart.

Book cover of The Things They Carried

Donald B. Stewart Author Of Past Medical History: Recollections of a Medical Miscreant

From the list on surviving a life-changing challenge.

Who am I?

When life’s experiences fall dismally short of expectations, many of us find ourselves lost at a crossroads. When my path to becoming a doctor began to exact an unacceptable toll, I had to find a way out; discharging myself from the hospital was the solution, and by far the best clinical decision of my brief medical career.  As a result, I’m still fascinated by choices others make when faced with what seem like impossible obstacles, and where those decisions lead. Following the medical dream from age five, it wasn’t easy to change my life’s course, but that crucial choice allowed me to grow in ways I couldn’t imagine.  

Donald's book list on surviving a life-changing challenge

Why did Donald love this book?

Choices, choices, choices. The Things They Carried chronicles in piecemeal, fictionalized format the journey of an army veteran, from an injured spirit focusing on the shortest space between actions necessary for survival, to the expansive vision of a celebrated author.

For me, a creative making his first, furtive attempts at writing, O'Brien’s book gave me permission to experiment with short stories, and to strive for the truth, no matter the amount of fiction required to communicate a reality.

By Tim O'Brien,

Why should I read it?

18 authors picked The Things They Carried as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The million-copy bestseller, which is a ground-breaking meditation on war, memory, imagination, and the redemptive power of storytelling.

'The Things They Carried' is, on its surface, a sequence of award-winning stories about the madness of the Vietnam War; at the same time it has the cumulative power and unity of a novel, with recurring characters and interwoven strands of plot and theme.

But while Vietnam is central to 'The Things They Carried', it is not simply a book about war. It is also a book about the human heart - about the terrible weight of those things we carry through…


By Wallace Terry,

Book cover of Bloods: Black Veterans of the Vietnam War: An Oral History

Andrew Wiest Author Of The Boys of '67: Charlie Company's War in Vietnam

From the list on the Vietnam War from different POVs.

Who am I?

I was always fascinated by the Vietnam War since my older sister’s friends went off to fight in it. After getting my PhD and writing about World War I and World War II, I returned to Vietnam by getting involved with veterans groups and taking veterans and students to Vietnam. Since then I have written widely on the topic, teach about the Vietnam War, and have been involved in several major Vietnam War documentaries for outlets including the History Channel and National Geographic Channel. From those early days I have read everything I can get my hands on about the war, about my generation’s war.

Andrew's book list on the Vietnam War from different POVs

Why did Andrew love this book?

This was the first collection of oral histories that I ever read from the Vietnam War. Reading history done this way, with the men speaking for themselves, opened a new world for me. It allowed me to understand that it is only by talking to and with our veterans that the true depth of the combat experience can be delved. Terror, camaraderie, death, honor, humor, compassion, and boredom – the full human story of Vietnam and war is on display in Bloods. And it was this book that taught me to be an oral historian. 

On top of that, Bloods also, of course, makes clear the uniqueness of the Black experience in Vietnam – fighting a war for America while the country wrestled with its eternal question of race. This book is good and important for so many reasons. 

By Wallace Terry,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Bloods as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A NEW YORK TIMES NOTABLE BOOK • The national bestseller that tells the truth about the Vietnam War from the black soldiers’ perspective.

An oral history unlike any other, Bloods features twenty black men who tell the story of how members of their race were sent off to Vietnam in disproportionate numbers, and of the special test of patriotism they faced. Told in voices no reader will soon forget, Bloods is a must-read for anyone who wants to put the Vietnam experience in historical, cultural, and political perspective.

Praise for Bloods

“Superb . . . a portrait not just of…

The Vietnam War Reexamined

By Michael G. Kort,

Book cover of The Vietnam War Reexamined

James McLeroy Author Of Bait: The Battle of Kham Duc

From the list on the Vietnam War from a commando who served there.

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

James' book list on the Vietnam War from a commando who served there

Why did James 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 The Magnificent Bastards: The Joint Army-Marine Defense of Dong Ha, 1968

Wendell Affield Author Of Muddy Jungle Rivers: A river assault boat cox'n's memory journey of his war in Vietnam

From the list on the Vietnam war that explore waste and loss.

Who am I?

As I write this, I massage aching bits of shrapnel still embedded beneath silvered scars. I’ve read many Vietnam War stories—praising the war, glorifying combat, condemning the war. My stories are 1st person limited POV, voice of a twenty-year-old sailor. My title is a spin-off of Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness. By the time I wrote my memoir, I realized that our national goals in Vietnam had been Muddy from the beginning. I too, traveled Jungle Rivers. During my time on the riverboat, I witnessed Rivers of blood—rivers of life, trickle across our deck. And yes, Jungle is a fitting metaphor for our life at that time.

Wendell's book list on the Vietnam war that explore waste and loss

Why did Wendell love this book?

My river boat division (Mobile Riverine Force Division 112) patrolled the Cua Viet River just south of the DMZ between North and South Vietnam during the timeline of this book so I could very much relate to the events, though the Marines took much heavier casualties than our boats did. Keith Nolan does an excellent job documenting the battles—as I read, I relived the bomb and strafing runs done by the navy aircraft carrier F-4 Phantoms (which I also wrote about in my memoir) Nolan’s very detailed account of the Marine battles on the north side of the river answered many decades-old questions for me. His use of dialogue and insights into the Marines keep the reader engrossed. 

By Keith Nolan,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

On April 29, 1968, the North Vietnamese Army is spotted less than four miles from the U.S. Marines’ Dong Ha Combat Base. Intense fighting develops in nearby Dai Do as the 2d Battalion, 4th Marines, known as “the Magnificent Bastards,” struggles to eject NVA forces from this strategic position.

Yet the BLT 2/4Marines defy the brutal onslaught. Pressing forward, America’s finest warriors rout the NVA from their fortress-hamlets–often in deadly hand-to-hand combat.At the end of two weeks of desperate, grinding battles, the Marines and the infantry battalion supporting them are torn to shreds. But against all odds, they beat back…

Enduring Vietnam

By James Wright,

Book cover of Enduring Vietnam: An American Generation and Its War

Ernest Hebert Author Of Whirlybird Island

From the list on creating empathy and self-knowledge in readers.

Who am I?

For me, writing novels is an attempt in metaphor to clear the ledger of unfinished business in my crazy, contradictory, sometimes funny, sometimes sad, and always messy mind. All the books I've written have long and often intensely personal backstories. All of us live two lives, a life in the world of things, relationships, and time (needs), and a life in the world we create in our minds (wants). When needs and wants come into conflict we have the elements that make a novel. I see my job as a novelist to provide an exciting story and plot that carries a reader through the material world.

Ernest's book list on creating empathy and self-knowledge in readers

Why did Ernest love this book?

My book is a story about what often happens to some soldiers after a war, in today's lingo, PTSD. As one who is a veteran himself, I’ve always been conflicted about soldiering, war, the aftermath of war, and the American penchant for war. One book put it all into perspective for me, Enduring Vietnam by historian James Wright. Wright gives you the historical context that brought about the war; the politics that influenced the war; and the battles fought during the war. But he tells it all from the perspective of the soldiers who fought the war, from our fellow Americans and allies in South Vietnam, but also from the perspective of the enemy soldiers, the Vietcong and North Vietnamese.

By James Wright,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The Vietnam War is largely recalled as a mistake, either in the decision to engage there or in the nature of the engagement. Orboth. Veterans of the war remain largely anonymous figures, accomplices in the mistake. Critically recounting the steps that led to the war, this book does not excuse the mistakes, but it brings those who served out of the shadows. Enduring Vietnam recounts the experiences of the young Americans who fought in Vietnam and of families who grieved those who did not return. By 1969 nearly half of the junior enlisted men who died in Vietnam were draftees.…

Triumph Forsaken

By Mark Moyar,

Book cover of Triumph Forsaken: The Vietnam War, 1954-1965

Neal Thompson Author Of Reckoning: Vietnam and America's Cold War Experience, 1945-1991

From the list on America’s path through the Cold War.

Who am I?

I entered the United States Army in August 1970, two months after graduation from high school, completed flight school on November 1971, and served a one-year tour of duty in Vietnam as a helicopter pilot in Troop F (Air), 8th US Cavalry, 1st Aviation Brigade. After my discharge, I served an additional 28 years as a helicopter pilot in the Illinois National Guard, retiring in 2003. I graduated from Triton Junior College, the University of Illinois at Chicago, and Northwestern University Law School in 1981. My passion for this subject arises, as one would expect, from my status as a veteran. My expertise is based on my own experience and 16 years of research and writing that went into the preparation of my book.

Neal's book list on America’s path through the Cold War

Why did Neal love this book?

Moyar does an excellent job of debunking the myths surrounding this country’s failure to secure an independent, non-communist South Vietnam. From the “Bright and Shining Lie” of the vaunted Saigon press corps to the supposed incompetence of Ngo Dinh Diem, Moyar demonstrates that the orthodox narrative is false and that the loss of Vietnam was the result of decisions made in Washington rather than dysfunction in Saigon.  

By Mark Moyar,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Triumph Forsaken as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Drawing on a wealth of new evidence from all sides, Triumph Forsaken, first published in 2007, overturns most of the historical orthodoxy on the Vietnam War. Through the analysis of international perceptions and power, it shows that South Vietnam was a vital interest of the United States. The book provides many insights into the overthrow of South Vietnamese President Ngo Dinh Diem in 1963 and demonstrates that the coup negated the South Vietnamese government's tremendous, and hitherto unappreciated, military and political gains between 1954 and 1963. After Diem's assassination, President Lyndon Johnson had at his disposal several aggressive policy options…

Armed with Abundance

By Meredith H. Lair,

Book cover of Armed with Abundance: Consumerism and Soldiering in the Vietnam War

Doug Bradley Author Of We Gotta Get Out of This Place: The Soundtrack of the Vietnam War

From the list on the Vietnam War that strike a different note.

Who am I?

Until today’s multiple catastrophes, the Vietnam War was the most harrowing moment in the lives of my fellow baby boomers and me. Drafted into the U.S. Army in early 1970, I spent 365 days in Vietnam as a combat correspondent. That experience changed my life, because as the Argentinian writer Jose Narosky has pointed out, “in war, there are no unwounded soldiers.” I have spent the past five decades trying to heal those wounds, writing three books grounded in my Vietnam experience, and have devoted my life to listening to the voices of our veterans, distilling their memories (often music-based), and sharing their words. 

Doug's book list on the Vietnam War that strike a different note

Why did Doug love this book?

How music became so readily available to Vietnam soldiers is emphasized in Armed with Abundance. Trying to remedy the tenuous morale among GIs, the U.S. military provided them with “creature comforts” in an effort to make war easier, and certainly more palatable. Lair finds that consumption and satiety, more so than privation and sacrifice, defined the experience of most soldiers' Vietnam deployments. She reveals that in 1969 and 1970, for example, soldiers purchased nearly 500,000 radios, 178,000 reel-to-reel tape decks, and 220,000 cassette recorders. Rock and roll was there to stay! 

By Meredith H. Lair,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Armed with Abundance as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Popular representations of the Vietnam War tend to emphasize violence, deprivation, and trauma. By contrast, in Armed with Abundance, Meredith Lair focuses on the noncombat experiences of U.S. soldiers in Vietnam, redrawing the landscape of the war so that swimming pools, ice cream, visits from celebrities, and other "comforts" share the frame with combat.

To address a tenuous morale situation, military authorities, Lair reveals, wielded abundance to insulate soldiers - and, by extension, the American public - from boredom and deprivation, making the project of war perhaps easier and certainly more palatable. The result was dozens of overbuilt bases in…

Friends, and Country

By Nguyen Thi Binh, Mai Elliot (translator),

Book cover of Friends, and Country: A Memoir

Jessica Frazier Author Of Women's Antiwar Diplomacy During the Vietnam War Era

From the list on women and the US war in Vietnam.

Who am I?

I fell into researching women’s antiwar activism during the U.S. war in Vietnam by chance when I came across evidence of middle-aged American women traveling to Jakarta, Indonesia in 1965 to meet with women from North Vietnam and the National Liberation Front—the enemies of the United States at the time. Discovering that some of these same U.S. women (and many others), would later travel to Hanoi despite the United States conducting extensive bombing raids over North Vietnam, despite travel to North Vietnam being prohibited, and despite some of the women having young children at home, simply astounded me, and I had to find out more.

Jessica's book list on women and the US war in Vietnam

Why did Jessica love this book?

As the representative of the Provisional Revolutionary Government of the Republic of South Vietnam at the Paris Peace Conference, Nguyen Thi Binh inspired women’s rights activists around the world. Charged with forwarding efforts toward people-to-people diplomacy, Binh met with antiwar activists from all over the world, including the United States, as she negotiated for peace through official channels. With Binh’s high-level position, the reality of her experiences have often been obscured and misconstrued by people on all sides of the U.S. war in Vietnam. Thus, her memoir provides much-needed insight into her family background, her role in resisting France, her leadership in the National Liberation Front during the U.S. war, and her position in the Vietnamese government following the fall of Saigon.

This book is hard to find and only available in Vietnam currently.

By Nguyen Thi Binh, Mai Elliot (translator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Friends, and Country as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in the Vietnam War, Vietnam, and South Vietnam?

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 South Vietnam.

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