The best Vietnam War books

Who picked these books? Meet our 176 experts.

176 authors created a book list connected to the Vietnam War, and here are their favorite Vietnam War books.
Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission

What type of Vietnam War book?


Book cover of A People Numerous and Armed: Reflections on the Military Struggle for American Independence

Jack N. Rakove Author Of Original Meanings: Politics and Ideas in the Making of the Constitution

From the list on the Revolutionary War and why the British lost it.

Who am I?

I became a historian of the American Revolution back in the early 1970s and have been working on that subject ever since. Most of my writings pivot on national politics, the origins of the Constitution, and James Madison. But explaining why the Revolution occurred and why it took the course it did remain subjects that still fascinate me.

Jack's book list on the Revolutionary War and why the British lost it

Discover why each book is one of Jack's favorite books.

Why did Jack love this book?

This is a classic and provocative set of essays by an eminent historian who asked whether and in what ways the War for Independence resembled modern revolutionary wars. It led every serious historian of the Revolution to realize that the war was not simply a conflict between armies but a political struggle to secure the loyalty of the civilian population.

By John Shy,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked A People Numerous and Armed as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Americans like to think of themselves as a peaceful and peace-loving people, and in remembering their own revolutionary past, American historians have long tended to focus on colonial origins and Constitutional aftermath, neglecting the fact that the American Revolution was a long, hard war. In this book, John Shy shifts the focus to the Revolutionary War and explores the ways in which the experience of that war was entangled with both the causes and the consequences of the Revolution itself. This is not a traditional military chronicle of battles and campaigns, but a series of essays that recapture the social,…


By Kathryn Schumaker,

Book cover of Troublemakers: Students' Rights and Racial Justice in the Long 1960s

Jonathan Zimmerman Author Of Whose America? Culture Wars in the Public Schools

From the list on student activism.

Who am I?

I’m a historian at the University of Pennsylvania and an op-ed writer for numerous publications. I’m also a former Peace Corps volunteer and high school teacher. I’ve spent my adult life studying the ways that human beings imagine education, across space and time. Schools make citizens, but citizens also make schools. And we’re all different, so we disagree—inevitably and often profoundly—about the meaning and purpose of “school” itself. In a diverse nation, what should kids learn? And who should decide that? There are no single “right” answers, of course. I’m eager to hear yours.

Jonathan's book list on student activism

Discover why each book is one of Jonathan's favorite books.

Why did Jonathan love this book?

We’re also indebted to young minority students for pioneering free-speech rights in our schools. Most of us still associate the struggle for student rights with antiwar activists like Mary Beth Tinker, whose armband protest against the Vietnam War led to the epochal Tinker v. Des Moines Supreme Court decision declaring that teachers and students don’t shed their First Amendment rights at the schoolhouse gate. But before and after Tinker, Black and Chicano students challenged racist curricula, disciplinary policies, and more. Student rights are civil rights, and vice versa. We can’t—and shouldn’t—separate them.

By Kathryn Schumaker,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A powerful history of student protests and student rights during the desegregation era
In the late 1960s, protests led by students roiled high schools across the country. As school desegregation finally took place on a wide scale, students of color were particularly vocal in contesting the racial discrimination they saw in school policies and practices. And yet, these young people had no legal right to express dissent at school. It was not until 1969 that the Supreme Court would recognize the First Amendment rights of students in the landmark Tinker v. Des Moines case.
A series of students' rights lawsuits…

Book cover of Welcome Home from Vietnam, Finally: A Vietnam Trauma Surgeon's Memoir

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

Discover why each book is one of Angel's favorite books.

Why did Angel love this book?

Dr. Gus Kappler contacted me via my Facebook page. After we spoke, I ordered his book, Welcome Home From Vietnam, Finally: A Vietnam Trauma Surgeon’s Memoir. Since I write Vietnam War fiction, I found his memoir both enlightening as to how it really was for the doctors saving the lives of our troops. M*A*S*H it is not, while themes in that classic show have a ring of truth. I will not mention them as you need to read the book to understand. The book is written from Gus’ heart and soul of his experiences and illustrated with the pictures he took in-country. The book is gritty, down-to-earth, and above all, how it truly was to work in a Vietnam War field hospitalthe 85th Evacuation Hospital. You need to read this book.

By Gus Kappler, MD,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Gus Kappler MD served as an Army trauma surgeon at the 85th Evacuation Hospital, Phu Bai, Vietnam. The 85th routinely witnessed the devastation of war on body, mind, and soul. Every known and out-of-the-box technique was employed to salvage life and limb. At the 85th a wounded soldier had a 95% chance of survival. It was that 5% that still haunt the surgeons, nurses, and anesthesiologists today.

"Welcome Home From Vietnam, Finally" is the medical memoir of a surgeon in the most intense environment possible. It is a gripping, honest, real-life, disturbing wartime memoir.

Bring the War Home

By Kathleen Belew,

Book cover of Bring the War Home: The White Power Movement and Paramilitary America

Matthew Dallek Author Of Birchers: How the John Birch Society Radicalized the American Right

From the list on the far-right and its influence in US politics.

Who am I?

I am a historian and a professor of political management at George Washington University, and I became interested in the John Birch Society when I encountered the group while writing my first book, on Ronald Reagan's 1966 California governor's campaign. I'm also fascinated by debates about political extremism in modern America including such questions as: how does the culture define extremism in a given moment? How does the meaning of extremism shift over time? And how do extremists sometimes become mainstream within the context of American politics? These were some of the puzzles that motivated me to write Birchers

Matthew's book list on the far-right and its influence in US politics

Discover why each book is one of Matthew's favorite books.

Why did Matthew love this book?

A classic in the genre, Belew’s book traces the rise of the white power movement to “the aftermath of the Vietnam War.”

Bring the War Home examines how a blend of apocalyptic ideas, obsession with guns rights, hardline antigovernment views, and white power beliefs became a current in modern America. I admire its groundbreaking research, bold argument, and impact.

By Kathleen Belew,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Bring the War Home as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A Guardian Best Book of the Year

"A gripping study of white power...Explosive."
-New York Times

"Helps explain how we got to today's alt-right."
-Terry Gross, Fresh Air

The white power movement in America wants a revolution.

Returning to a country ripped apart by a war they felt they were not allowed to win, a small group of Vietnam veterans and disgruntled civilians who shared their virulent anti-communism and potent sense of betrayal concluded that waging war on their own country was justified. The command structure of their covert movement gave women a prominent place. They operated with discipline, made…

Book cover of A Short History of Laos: The Land in Between

Tom Vater Author Of The Man With The Golden Mind

From the list on Laos and the CIA's covert war there.

Who am I?

I’m a writer and journalist with an eye on South and Southeast Asia. I first visited beautiful, land-locked, and sleepy Laos in 2000, as the country reluctantly reemerged from post-revolutionary isolation. I researched and co-wrote The Most Secret Place on Earth, a feature documentary on how the CIA created a clandestine army to fight Laotian and Vietnamese communists, rigged elections, and eventually destroyed much of the country with carpet bombing. This slice of secret history forms the narrative backbone of my novel. The Man with the Golden Mind is a spy thriller, as well as an ode to one of the most isolated countries in the world.

Tom's book list on Laos and the CIA's covert war there

Discover why each book is one of Tom's favorite books.

Why did Tom love this book?

Historian Grant Evans does a thorough and highly readable if academic job to introduce remote, mysterious, landlocked Laos, the land of a million elephants from its distant beginnings as a conglomeration of waxing and waning city-states to its French colonial era and tragic role in the Vietnam War, its current post-revolutionary stasis and persistent refusal to become a nation serving its citizens. Anyone contemplating a visit to Laos should carry this book in their luggage as it touches on almost all aspects, cultural and economic, historical, and societal of one of the last communist nations surviving today.

By Grant Evans,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Laos, perhaps the least known country in mainland Southeast Asia, stands at the region's crossroads. This small 'land in between' is surrounded by China, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand and Burma-countries that, in pre-modern times, provided Lao kings with a field for territorial expansion. But more often, Laos has been a bridge between these powerful neighbours, and an arena in which they and their allies have interfered.Here, Grant Evans brings Lao history vividly into focus. From ancient times when the dynastic states of the region waxed and waned, to the 20th century and the turmoil of independence from France and the Vietnam…

Machine Dreams

By Jayne Anne Phillips,

Book cover of Machine Dreams

Mark Nykanen Author Of Burn Down the Sky

From the list on if you love thrillers and want to dig deeper.

Who am I?

I read a lot of literary fiction. At the moment, I’m finishing To Paradise by Hanya Yanagihara, which I’ve enjoyed and whose novel, A Little Life, was brilliant. My interest in thriller fiction is sparked by writers who bring their considerable literary talents to their trade. John LeCarré comes to mind. Writers who sacrifice depth of character or concern for place quickly lose my interest. Thankfully, there are many thriller writers who do a superb job of keeping my wandering nature in check. (A quick note: I also write dystopian fiction under my pen name James Jaros.)

Mark's book list on if you love thrillers and want to dig deeper

Discover why each book is one of Mark's favorite books.

Why did Mark love this book?

Machine Dreams is a wrenching novel that chronicles an American family through decades of reflection and turbulence, culminating in the shattering ramifications of the Vietnam War. For those of us who learned to refract the U.S. through the prism of that savagery, which left millions of Vietnamese dead and vast stretches of their country burned and poisoned, Machine Dreams was a novel that radiated the heartsickness of that era on the home front. American families were, indeed, torn apart by that war, but the weaknesses of those bonds had abiding roots. I was weeping by the time I finished this novel but hasten to add that I have no regrets about the experience, only gratitude. 

By Jayne Anne Phillips,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In her highly acclaimed debut novel, the bestselling author of Shelter introduces the Hampsons, an ordinary, small-town American family profoundly affected by the extraordinary events of history. Here is a stunning chronicle that begins with the Depression and ends with the Vietnam War, revealed in the thoughts, dreams, and memories of each family member. Mitch struggles to earn a living as Jeans becomes the main breadwinner, working to complete college and raise the family. While the couple fight to keep their marriage intact, their daughter Danner and son Billy forge a sibling bond of uncommon strength. When Billy goes off…

Book cover of The Bear Went Over the Mountain: Soviet Combat Tactics in Afghanistan

Jane Harvey-Berrick Author Of Troll: My Life in Bomb Disposal

From the list on first-hand accounts of warzones.

Who am I?

I have no expertise in the military – I wish I did. But I have incredible respect for their work. I remember reading about the death of Oz Schmid, a bomb disposal officer who was killed in Afghanistan. It was the bravery of his widow, Christina, discussing the appalling lack of equipment and her quiet dignity that touched me profoundly. I asked myself, what can I do to help? Being a writer, I decided to write about it. I quickly realised that I needed an insider’s insight, and found Troll through Felix Fund, the bomb disposal charity. Troll and I wrote the play Later, After, seeing it performed was the proudest moment of my career. 

Jane's book list on first-hand accounts of warzones

Discover why each book is one of Jane's favorite books.

Why did Jane love this book?

Troll told me that he read this book in preparation for his own deployment to Afghanistan. Winston Churchill said about campaigns in Afghanistan, “Financially it is ruinous. Morally it is wicked. Militarily it is an open question, and politically it is a blunder.”

It doesn’t feel like much has changed. 

By Lester W. Grau,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Bear Went Over the Mountain as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This rare 10th anniversary edition (published in 2007) contains a new introduction by expert Soviet historian David M. Glantz. In addition all maps and graphics have been enhanced from the 1996 edition. "When the Soviet Union decided to invade Afghanistan, they evaluated their chances for success upon their experiences in East Germany, Hungary and Czechoslovakia. Unfortunately for their soldiers, as well as the people of Afghanistan, they ignored not only the experiences of the British in the same region, but also their own experience with the Basmachi resistance fighters in Central Asia from 1918-1933. Consequently, in Afghanistan the Soviet army…

In Country

By Bobbie Ann Mason,

Book cover of In Country

Alice K. Boatwright Author Of Collateral Damage

From the list on the Vietnam War and what it all meant.

Who am I?

Alice K. Boatwright has lived in the US, England, France, and India – and her career as a writer about public health, education, and the arts has taken her around the world. She began writing short stories when she was young and holds an MFA in Writing Fiction from Columbia University. Her award-winning book about the Vietnam War era, Collateral Damage, was inspired by her own experiences during the war years in the US and the time she spent working on a project in Vietnam in 1993 and 1997. She is also the author of a short story chapbook, Sea, Sky, Islands; numerous stories published in journals, such as Calyx, Mississippi Review Online, America West, Penumbra, Stone Canoe, and Amarillo Bay; and the popular Ellie Kent mysteries, based on her experiences as an ex-pat living in an English village.

Alice's book list on the Vietnam War and what it all meant

Discover why each book is one of Alice's favorite books.

Why did Alice love this book?

This classic 1985 novel is a favorite because it broadens the focus to the impact of the war on the families. Set in 1984, the protagonist Samantha Hughes never knew her father, who was killed in Vietnam before she was born. Her uncle, who survived the war, is living with PTSD from his experiences there, and teenage Sam is trying to make sense of it all. The expression “in country” refers to time served at the site of a military operation (in this case, metaphorically, in Vietnam). The Los Angeles Times called this novel "A moral tale that entwines public history with private anguish."

By Bobbie Ann Mason,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Bobbie Ann Mason’s debut novel—"a brilliant and moving book... a moral tale that entwines public history with private anguish."  —Los Angeles Times Book Review

“How Ms. Mason conjures a vivid image of the futility of war and its searing legacy of confusion out of the searching questions or a naïve later generation is nothing short of masterful.” —Kansas City Star

Samantha “Sam” Hughes is in her senior year of high school in rural Kentucky. Her father, whom she never knew, was killed in Vietnam before she was born. Sam lives with her uncle Emmett, a veteran who appears to be…

Letters From Long Binh

By Randy Mixter,

Book cover of Letters From Long Binh: Memoirs Of A Military Policeman In Vietnam

Larry L. Deibert Author Of Combat Boots dainty feet Finding Love In Vietnam

From the list on stories of Vietnam veterans.

Who am I?

My expertise with the topic is that I served for over 22 months in the army, where I learned many things people do not learn in normal life. I belong to several Vietnam veteran organizations, and I am the first president of the Lehigh Northampton Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

Larry's book list on stories of Vietnam veterans

Discover why each book is one of Larry's favorite books.

Why did Larry love this book?

Randy was a military policeman with the 615th MP Company in Vietnam in 1967, The 615th patrolled the entire Long Binh complex, which was approximately 50 miles around, with over 30,000 men stationed on the post. His letters offered the reader an honest appraisal of the life of a Military Policeman 10,000 miles from home.

By Randy Mixter,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Letters From Long Binh as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

I boarded the plane to Vietnam at exactly midnight on January 1st, 1967. I was a 19 year old soldier with pen and paper in hand.
I began to write.
“Letters from Long Binh gives the reader an honest appraisal of the everyday life of an MP in Vietnam. Sometimes poignant,sometimes humorous, but always gripping, the book is written with a deep sense of respect for his fellow brothers-in-arms in a war-torn country.”

Lou Fantauzzi - Vietnam 1966-67

Through the Valley

By William Reeder Jr.,

Book cover of Through the Valley: My Captivity in Vietnam

Nishi Giefer Author Of The Captured

From the list on Twentieth Century POWs.

Who am I?

As a western mystery writer, rancher, veterinarian, wife, mother, farrier, horse trainer, gardener, seamstress, pilot, homeschooler, tractor jockey, and all-around hand, I conclude that every experience in life is grist for the mill leading to settings, scenery, plots, and character motivations.

Nishi's book list on Twentieth Century POWs

Discover why each book is one of Nishi's favorite books.

Why did Nishi love this book?

In a rescue-gone-wrong, Reeder’s chopper went down, landing on its side and leaving the pilot frantically attempting to disentangle himself from the safety harness to escape the burning craft. Years later, after relaying this story to a large audience, Reeder was told by a fellow veteran that he had witnessed the incident and had Reeder in his gunsight, intending to save him from burning to death. The would-be shooter had looked away an instant, and when ready to fire, found Reeder gone. Reeder managed to evade the enemy for a time but was eventually captured and subjected to unfathomable cruelty and deprivation.

By William Reeder Jr.,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Through the Valley as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Through the Valley is the captivating memoir of the last U.S. Army soldier taken prisoner during the Vietnam War. A narrative of courage, hope, and survival, Through the Valley is more than just a war story. It also portrays the thrill and horror of combat, the fear and anxiety of captivity, and the stories of friendships forged and friends lost In 1971 William Reeder was a senior captain on his second tour in Vietnam. He had flown armed, fixed-wing OV-1 Mohawks on secret missions deep into enemy territory in Laos, Cambodia, and North Vietnam on his first tour. He returned…


By Gregory Benford,

Book cover of Timescape

Paul Levinson Author Of The Plot to Save Socrates

From the list on time travel that respect the paradoxes.

Who am I?

I am an author of science fiction, as well as nonfiction, a singer/songwriter, and a Professor at Fordham University, and time travel has played a role in all of these endeavors.  I’ve written four novels and numerous stories which feature time travel, several songs (for example, “If I Traveled to the Past”), and talk about it in my classes.  The opportunity of going back in history and stopping a bad thing has always intrigued me, as has traveling to the future to see how things turn out. The paradoxes that can get in the way of that make thinking and writing and talking and singing about it even more fun.

Paul's book list on time travel that respect the paradoxes

Discover why each book is one of Paul's favorite books.

Why did Paul love this book?

If you think about it, communication back in time from the present triggers the same kind of paradoxes as physically traveling to the past. If I send information to the past about which horse will win in what upcoming race, how come I didn’t already know that in the present to begin with? Timescape offers a great, scientifically knowledgeable account about how something like that might play out.

By Gregory Benford,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The year is 1998, the world is a growing nightmare of desperation, of uncontrollable pollution and increasing social unrest. In Cambridge, two scientists experiment with tachyons - subatomic particles that travel faster than the speed of light and, therefore, according to the Theory of Relativity, may move backwards in time. Their plan is to signal a warning to the previous generation.

In 1962, a young Californian scientist, Gordon Bernstein, finds his experiments are being spoiled by unknown interference. As he begins to suspect something near the truth it becomes a race against time - the world is collapsing and will…

Hanoi's War

By Lien-Hang T. Nguyen,

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

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

Discover why each book is one of James' favorite books.

Why did James 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…

The Teammates

By David Halberstam,

Book cover of The Teammates: A Portrait of Friendship

Dan Largent Author Of Before We Ever Spoke

From the list on baseball is part of the theme.

Who am I?

Before he became a bestselling author with his debut novel, Before We Ever Spoke, Dan Largent spent the better part of two decades as a high school baseball coach. In 2010, he guided Olmsted Falls High School to its first-ever State Final Four and was subsequently named Greater Cleveland Division I Coach of the Year. Dan stepped away from his duties as a baseball coach in 2017 to spend more time with his wife, April, and their three children Brooke, Grace, and Luke. He has, however, remained close to the game he loves by turning doubles into singles as a member of Cleveland’s finest 35 and over baseball league.

Dan's book list on baseball is part of the theme

Discover why each book is one of Dan's favorite books.

Why did Dan love this book?

Ted Williams is my favorite baseball player of all time, so naturally, I have read almost every book ever written about him. This book, however, isn’t just about the “Splendid Splinter”. 

The Teammates takes place in the fall of 2001, as Ted Williams is dying and right around one of the most challenging times our country has endured. It revolves around the life-long friendship of 4 aging Red Sox teammates: Ted Williams, Dom DiMaggio, Johnny Pesky, and Bobby Doerr.

This is a book about four friends and teammates at the end of their time on this planet, and well-aware of that fact, who demonstrate that they will be there for each other all the way to the end. This is a short book and a fast read at only 218 pages (with pictures), but it is impactful far beyond its word count.

By David Halberstam,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

More than 6 years after his death David Halberstam remains one of this country's most respected journalists and revered authorities on American life and history in the years since WWII. A Pulitzer Prize-winner for his ground-breaking reporting on the Vietnam War, Halberstam wrote more than 20 books, almost all of them bestsellers. His work has stood the test of time and has become the standard by which all journalists measure themselves.

The Teammates is the profoundly moving story of four great baseball players who have made the passage from sports icons--when they were young and seemingly indestructible--to men dealing with…

Last Stand at Khe Sanh

By Gregg Jones,

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

John Podlaski Author Of Cherries: A Vietnam War Novel

From the list on about the Vietnam War.

Who am I?

I served as an infantryman in Vietnam with both the 25th ID and the 101st Airborne. Curiosity about what other units did during the war drove me to read about their exploits and learn about what else took place outside of my little part of the war. I am also the admin of a website dedicated to the Vietnam War and its Warriors. My intent over the last eleven years is to educate the public and continue our legacy.  

John's book list on about the Vietnam War

Discover why each book is one of John's favorite books.

Why did John love 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,…

By Gregg Jones,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Last Stand at Khe Sanh as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Last Stand at Khe Sanh is a vivid, fast-paced account of the dramatic 1968 confrontation, when 6,000 US Marines held off 30,000 North Vietnamese Army regulars at a remote mountain stronghold. Based on extensive archival research and more than 100 interviews with participants, author Gregg Jones captures the courage and camaraderie of the defenders and delivers the fullest account yet of this epic battle.


By Alice Mattison,

Book cover of Conscience

Fran Hawthorne Author Of I Meant to Tell You

From the list on ordinary people drawn into social activism.

Who am I?

Was it the environmental movement, which burgeoned as I was growing up? Or remnants of Sunday School teachings? For whatever reason, I deeply believe that I have a responsibility to give back to the world more than I take. There are many ways to give back, as my characters Miranda and Russ explore in my novel I Meant to Tell You. In my nonfiction, I’ve investigated the healthcare and financial industries, and also suggested steps we can take in our everyday lives as consumers, parents, and investors. When I’m not writing, I’m organizing environmental clean-ups, collecting supplies for refugees, and phoning public officials.

Fran's book list on ordinary people drawn into social activism

Discover why each book is one of Fran's favorite books.

Why did Fran love this book?

Alice Mattison, the author, must have been reading my mind! This piercing novel echoes some of my conflicted feelings about the Sixties and social activism in general, even as it also probes the strains of long-term marriage and friendship. As college students, Olive, Helen, and Val took different routes during the Sixties antiwar protests. Now, when a magazine commissions Olive to write an essay about Val’s long-ago novel, she must confront the repercussions of those friendships and the decisions the three women made. Helen chose violent protest; Olive chose a PhD; Val chose to appropriate Helen’s life in her fiction. Olive’s rethinking raises a question that’s important for us today: How far should an ethical person go for a just cause?  

By Alice Mattison,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Decades ago in Brooklyn, three girls demonstrated against the Vietnam War, and each followed a distinct path into adulthood. Helen became a violent revolutionary. Val wrote a controversial book, essentially a novelization of Helen’s all-too-short but vibrant life. And Olive became an editor and writer, now comfortably settled with her husband, Griff, in New Haven. When Olive is asked to write an essay about Val’s book, doing so brings back to the forefront Olive and Griff’s tangled histories and their complicated reflections on that tumultuous time in their young lives.Conscience, the dazzling new novel from award-winning author Alice Mattison, paints…

Radicals on the Road

By Judy Tzu-Chun Wu,

Book cover of Radicals on the Road: Internationalism, Orientalism, and Feminism during the Vietnam Era

Alexander Sedlmaier Author Of Protest in the Vietnam War Era

From the list on the international dimensions of the Vietnam War.

Who am I?

As a historian and someone who grew up in Cold War Berlin, I am constantly inspired by efforts to curb the devastating effects of industrialised warfare. I love learning about people who had the courage to speak up, and how their historical understanding of the military abuse of power enables us to think differently about present-day warfare. So much of my research has been inspired by social movements and their difficult efforts to improve the world. While I am no expert on Vietnamese history, I have been fortunate to have learned a lot about how ingenious the Vietnamese revolutionaries were in actively pedalling the global emergence of Vietnam War protest. 

Alexander's book list on the international dimensions of the Vietnam War

Discover why each book is one of Alexander's favorite books.

Why did Alexander love this book?

What happened when US activists travelled to Asia during the Vietnam War?

This is the question Wu seeks to answer in one of the most important books on internationalism and Vietnam War protest. She looks at how they sympathised and identified with anti-imperialist struggles in Asia, inverting an orientalist dichotomy between imperial America and decolonising Asia “whereby the decolonizing East helped to define the identities and goals of activists in the West.”

This was one of the books that first got me interested in understanding why ethnically diverse protesters responded to the Vietnam War the way they did, and how activists’ travel fostered the imagination of new political possibilities and alternative means of political articulation as they transcended ethnic and racial backgrounds.

By Judy Tzu-Chun Wu,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Radicals on the Road as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Traveling to Hanoi during the U.S. war in Vietnam was a long and dangerous undertaking. Even though a neutral commission operated the flights, the possibility of being shot down by bombers in the air and antiaircraft guns on the ground was very real. American travelers recalled landing in blackout conditions, without lights even for the runway, and upon their arrival seeking refuge immediately in bomb shelters. Despite these dangers, they felt compelled to journey to a land at war with their own country, believing that these efforts could change the political imaginaries of other members of the American citizenry and…

Stolen Valor

By B.G. Burkett, Glenna Whitley,

Book cover of Stolen Valor: How the Vietnam Generation Was Robbed of Its Heroes and Its History

Nicholas Warr Author Of Phase Line Green: The Battle for Hue, 1968

From the list on the Vietnam War from a Marine infantry officer who fought there.

Who am I?

I enlisted in the U. S. Marine Corps in 1966 and was selected for the Enlisted Commissioning Program. As a Marine officer, I served one 13-month combat tour in the Republic of Vietnam from November 1967 to December 1968. During my tour, I led Marines through some of the heaviest fighting in the war, including the historic Battle for Hue City during the Tet Offensive of 1968. I will never forget my Marines, who always, always rose and faced the enemy, risking their lives for their fellow Marines and the people of South Vietnam. I experienced first-hand the brutality of war and the loss of too many of my Marines, at the hands of our fierce enemy, the Viet Cong, and the NVA, and at the hands of our own leaders who valued historic real estate over the lives of the young Americans who served in “The ‘Nam.” I am extremely passionate about this topic and feel strongly that every American should study this war and learn the facts about what happened there – the good, the bad, and the ugly – to ensure we as a nation never again send our troops into harms’ way without our nation’s full support.

Nicholas' book list on the Vietnam War from a Marine infantry officer who fought there

Discover why each book is one of Nicholas' favorite books.

Why did Nicholas love this book?

I believe this book is the most important book written about the aftermath of the war, and the impact it had on “those who went.” Author Burkett describes himself as a Vietnam Veteran, but one who served in an administrative capacity and seldom in harm’s way. Upon returning home in 1969, he witnessed, first-hand, the disrespect given to those who went to war by those who stayed home. In 1996, Burkett was enlisted by a group of citizens who were trying to build a Vietnam Veterans Memorial Monument in Fair Park near downtown Dallas to help them raise the necessary funds. He first went directly to business decision-makers and asked for their support, only to be soundly rejected because of the extremely negative reputation placed on returning veterans by the media and others. Knowing that that terrible reputation (murderers, rapists, baby-killers, etc.) was not earned by most, he set about…

By B.G. Burkett, Glenna Whitley,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Military documents reveal decades of deceit about the Vietnam War and myths perpetuated by the mainstream media

Fortunate Son

By Lewis B. Puller Jr.,

Book cover of Fortunate Son: The Healing of a Vietnam Vet

J. Conrad Guest Author Of A World Without Music

From the list on PTSD and overcoming oppression of the human spirit.

Who am I?

My father retired from the Marines before he married my mother. Sadly, he was more drill instructor to me than father. He never shared with me his experience on Okinawa, yet he was proud of his service. He kept in touch with several marines and attended many reunions. It was only after Dad’s death that I discovered With the Old Breed. Eugene Sledge told me everything my father withheld from me, and why he was the way he was. Today, Dad would be diagnosed with PTSD. Thus began a quest to read other accounts of wartime experiences, as soldiers and civilians, which led me to write A World Without Music.

J. Conrad's book list on PTSD and overcoming oppression of the human spirit

Discover why each book is one of J. Conrad's favorite books.

Why did J. Conrad love this book?

Fortunate Son won a Pulitzer shortly after its release, and rightfully so. Puller’s story is a moving one—a story that no doubt belongs to thousands of Vietnam vets. Serving their country to the best of their ability, following orders handed down to them the result of a misguided administration with a political agenda. Suffering wounds, some physical, most emotional (like my dad), from which they could never truly heal because there was no reconciliation.

Often poignant, at times humorous, Puller’s memoir is a moving one. His account of his alcoholism—the anger, the lost temper, the blackouts, the memory loss, a divorce, a failed political career, and how the realization that he could never take another drink again was like losing a loved one—takes the reader into hell.

By Lewis B. Puller Jr.,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize, Lewis B. Puller, Jr.'s memoir is a moving story of a man born into a proud military legacy who struggles to rebuild his world after the Vietnam War has shattered his body and his ideals. Raised in the shadow of his father, Marine General Lewis B. "Chesty" Puller, a hero of five wars, young Lewis went to Southeast Asia at the height of the Vietnam War and served with distinction as an officer in his father's beloved Corps. But when he tripped a booby-trapped howitzer round, triggering an explosion that would cost him his legs,…

The Lotus Eaters

By Tatjana Soli,

Book cover of The Lotus Eaters

Gin Phillips Author Of Family Law

From the list on women who love their job and don't feel guilty.

Who am I?

As someone who loves my work, I’ve noticed that in fiction when a woman is successful at her career, often that career mainly functions as a source of guilt or stress. Fictional working women spend a lot of time second guessing their choices, and, hey, it is hard to balance work and family. Women are torn in multiple directions. But I also believe it’s okay to love your job. It’s okay to find joy in it and to not beat yourself up. I find deep satisfaction in writing, and I enjoy reading about characters who know the rush of doing a job well.  

Gin's book list on women who love their job and don't feel guilty

Discover why each book is one of Gin's favorite books.

Why did Gin love this book?

I’ve never read anything quite like this novel centering on a female photographer, Helen Adams, covering the Vietnam War. Years after reading it, I can still picture scenes and, I swear, feel the heaviness of the air and hear the fruit falling from the trees. Soli has talked about how she got tired of reading wonderful novels where the men went off and had wartime adventures and the women just dropped off the page. So she wrote her own wartime saga.

Helen Adams never drops off the page—she leaps off them. The writing is as lush as the landscape, and you’ll fall entirely into the world of the book. There’s war and treachery and duty and passion, and nothing is ever simple.

By Tatjana Soli,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A New York Times Best Seller! A New York Times Notable Book!

A unique and sweeping debut novel of an American female combat photographer in the Vietnam War, as she captures the wrenching chaos and finds herself torn between the love of two men.

On a stifling day in 1975, the North Vietnamese army is poised to roll into Saigon. As the fall of the city begins, two lovers make their way through the streets to escape to a new life. Helen Adams, an American photojournalist, must take leave of a war she is addicted to and a devastated country…

Dead Center

By Ed Kugler,

Book cover of Dead Center: A Marine Sniper's Two-Year Odyssey in the Vietnam War

Michael Lee Lanning Author Of Inside the Crosshairs: Snipers in Vietnam

From the list on snipers in the Vietnam War.

Who am I?

I served as an infantry platoon leader, reconnaissance platoon leader, and rifle company commander in Vietnam and observed the direct results of snipers. I am the author of 30 non-fiction books on the military (six specifically about the Vietnam War), sports, and health that have sold more than 1.1 million copies in 15 countries and 12 languages.

Michael's book list on snipers in the Vietnam War

Discover why each book is one of Michael's favorite books.

Why did Michael love this book?

This is the first person narrative of Kulger’s two years as a scout sniper with the 4th Marine Regiment. Relates what it is like to look through the scope, pull the trigger, and watch your target die. Kulger’s experiences mirror that of most Marine snipers in the war. This is the reality of being a scout sniper, not the fiction that is often written about the elite Marine shooters.

By Ed Kugler,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?


Raw, straightforward, and powerful, Ed Kugler's account of his two years as a Marine scout-sniper in Vietnam vividly captures his experiences there--the good, the bad, and the ugly. After enlisting in the Marines at seventeen, then being wounded in Santo Domingo during the Dominican crisis, Kugler arrived in Vietnam in early 1966.

As a new sniper with the 4th Marines, Kugler picked up bush skills while attached to 3d Force Recon Company, and then joined the grunts. To take advantage of that experience, he formed the Rogues, a…