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We Were Soldiers Once...and Young: Ia Drang - The Battle That Changed the War in Vietnam [Hardcover]

Lt. General Ha Moore , Joseph Galloway
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (216 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Oct. 20 1992
Each year, the Commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps selects one book that he believes is both relevant and timeless for reading by all Marines. The Commandant's choice for 1993 was We Were Soldiers Once . . . and Young.
In November 1965, some 450 men of the 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry, under the command of Lt. Col. Hal Moore, were dropped by helicopter into a small clearing in the Ia Drang Valley. They were immediately surrounded by 2,000 North Vietnamese soldiers. Three days later, only two and a half miles away, a sister battalion was chopped to pieces. Together, these actions at the landing zones X-Ray and Albany constituted one of the most savage and significant battles of the Vietnam War.
How these men persevered--sacrificed themselves for their comrades and never gave up--makes a vivid portrait of war at its most inspiring and devastating. General Moore and Joseph Galloway, the only journalist on the ground throughout the fighting, have interviewed hundreds of men who fought there, including the North Vietnamese commanders. This devastating account rises above the specific ordeal it chronicles to present a picture of men facing the ultimate challenge, dealing with it in ways they would have found unimaginable only a few hours earlier. It reveals to us, as rarely before, man's most heroic and horrendous endeavor.

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From Amazon

In the first significant engagement between American troops and the Viet Cong, 450 U.S. soldiers found themselves surrounded and outnumbered by their enemy. This book tells the story of how they battled between October 23 and November 26, 1965. Its prose is gritty, not artful, delivering a powerful punch of here-and-now descriptions that could only have been written by people actually on the scene. In fact, they were: Harold Moore commanded the men of the 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry, who did most of the fighting, and Joseph Galloway was the only reporter present throughout the battle's 34 harrowing days. We Were Soldiers Once... combines their memories with more than 100 in-depth interviews with survivors on both sides. The Battle of Ia Drang also highlights a technological advance that would play an enormous role in the rest of the war: this was perhaps the first place where helicopter-based, air-mobile operations demonstrated their combat potential. At bottom, however, this is a tale of heroes and heroism, some acts writ large, others probably forgotten but for this telling. It was a bestseller when first published, and remains one of the better books available on combat during the Vietnam War. --John J. Miller --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

From Publishers Weekly

On Nov. 14, 1965, the 1st Battalion of the 7th Cavalry, commanded by Lt. Col. Moore and accompanied by UPI reporter Galloway, helicoptered into Vietnam's remote Ia Drang Valley and found itself surrounded by a numerically superior force of North Vietnamese regulars. Moore and Galloway here offer a detailed account, based on interviews with participants and on their own recollections, of what happened during the four-day battle. Much more than a conventional battle study, the book is a frank record of the emotional reactions of the GIs to the terror and horror of this violent and bloody encounter. Both sides claimed victory, the U.S. calling it a validation of the newly developed doctrine of airmobile warfare. Supplemented with maps, the memoir is a vivid re-creation of the first major ground battle of the Vietnam War. Photos.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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The small bloody hole in the ground that was Captain Bob Edwards's Charlie Company command post was crowded with men. Read the first page
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Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Overlooked Valor April 17 2004
Format:Hardcover
American soldiers in Vietnam were similar to American soldiers in wars prior and since. They fought with dedication, loyalty and skill. They were motivated, well led and informed. They knew for what they were fighting and why and recognized the importance of their contribution and sacrifice. Yet the popular mythology is very different.
General Moore and correspondent Galloway have made an invaluable contribution to the truth by publishing this most unusual joint memoir - how often do soldiers and journalists team up? Together they have produced one of the classic battle books of all times. Though written in a self-deprecating manner it is impossible to read this excellent book and not be completely in awe of the leadership abilities and dedication of then Lieutenant Colonel Hal Moore.
Moore took his new battalion - then an experimental airmobile unit - into what turned out to be an incredibly one-sided battle against seasoned, tough North Vietnamese regular forces. The Americans won that battle due in part to their supporting air and artillery but mostly on the shoulders of the soldiers and their leaders, from Colonel Moore all the way down to the squad and fire teams.
We Were Soldiers goes a long way to restoring the rightful pride that Americans ought to feel about our soldiers in Vietnam. This is a book that belongs on every American's shelf and is one that you will want to go back to and contemplate from time to time. It is an absolute must read.
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5.0 out of 5 stars You will want to read it more than once! Oct. 20 2003
Format:Hardcover
Perhaps a new modern classic on warfare, certainly one of the definitive books written about the Vietnam War. Moore has given us both a military history of the battle of Ia Drang and a intensely personal story of those who served there. It reads like a book written by a military man. You will not find the beautiful prose of a William Manchester or Bruce Catton, but heart stopping action that will leave you breathless.
In this book you will see both the competence and courage of the ordinary grunt, and the incompetence and mistakes of their commanders. This was not a strategic battle planned out in the corridors of the Pentagon, but, like the Battle of Gettysburg, it just happened. Thus, we have an unfolding of an unplanned battle that changed the course of the war.
Moore refuses to vilify the enemy. Like any good solider, he has respect for the men who opposed him. They are portrayed as men of courage, insight and dedication. If you only had opportunity to read one chapter, read chapter 20: Death in the Tall Grass. It tells of the story members of the 2nd Battalion surrounded in a field of grass, the terror of that fight is unmatched.
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Format:Hardcover
For those who enjoy military history, or want to read a few of the most significant books on the Vietnam war, this book is a must. While newcomers to the topic should start with a more general history of the war, such as Stanley Karnow's "Vietnam," this book, along with Neil Sheehan's "A Bright and Shining Lie," will always be one of the classics on this war. The book vividly tells the story of two very bloody battles in the Ia Drang valley, Pleiku province, in 1965: at Landing Zone (LZ) X-ray and, a few days later, at LZ Albany. Lt. Gen. Hal Moore, commander at LZ X-Ray (then a Lt. Col.), and reporter Joe Galloway, who lived through the horror of that battle, aptly describe the chaos of battle in the war's first major encounter between U.S. troops and the North Vietnamese regular army. The authors recount oral recollections of survivors. The book also describes the background of the war, the preparation of the 7th Cav as a new type of unit--air mobile by helicopter--and the mismanagement of the Johnson administration in so many ways: the loss of experienced personnel by the one-year assignment practice, the six month limit on battalion and brigade commanders, and allowing the enemy sanctuary in Cambodia. One of the strongest points of the book is its strong and moving sense of the cost of war to individuals and families: Hal Moore, besides being a top-knotch commander, is a true human being who felt deeply the loss of each of his men, over the years visiting their families and weeping at the graves of his fallen soldiers. This book is a battle history which does not glorify war, but shows it for the bloody, heart-wrenching chaos it is. Read more ›
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Format:Mass Market Paperback
We Were Soldiers shows how the Ia Drang battles were a microcosm of the American experience in Vietnam - exhibiting both the valor and courage, and the almost laughable incompetence of the bureaucratic U.S. military of the time. The book also breaks new ground in directly approaching the real NVA commanders from the battle and getting their inputs and insight.
This book tells two clear tales: the first half involving a highly experienced commander leading highly skilled and experienced men into a ferocious 3-day battle, and clearly emerging victorious by a huge margin; the second half involving an inexperienced commander leading raw troops into a disastrous ambush, and effectively losing his battle by a similar margin.
The first half of the book clearly and simply describes what has to be one of the great American military encounters in the nation's history. It also illustrates just how important smart leadership and training is in battle. Moore's 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry (1/7) deserves to be placed in the same pantheon as the great military units in history, including the Spartans at Thermopylae, Napoleon's Imperial Guard, the 7th Regiment Maine at Little Round Top, and sundry others. The 1/7 inflicted a 4-1 casualty ratio on a far more numerous enemy. Drawing on a slender helicopter-fed supply line, Moore's tiny unit effectively destroyed a force five times its size, and held the ground at the end of the battle.
Moore and Galloway manage to put you right there in LZ X-Ray. Electrifying. I have had dreams about that place since reading this book. It is that powerful, and little more needs to be said. The tale of the Lost Platoon is particularly powerful and gripping.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great book
Published 17 days ago by Mike's
4.0 out of 5 stars Overall a good read
I enjoyed this book, but it did seem to drag a little at times which is why I gave it 4 stars instead of 5.
Published 13 months ago by Mark C. Boyle
5.0 out of 5 stars Good Generals Make Their Own Luck
If ya wanta spend a few hours on it I'd advise the tome "How Great Generals Win" from a dude who taught at West Point. Read more
Published on Oct. 30 2009 by Jake The Hired Hand
5.0 out of 5 stars Strong military history
Like many, I suppose, I decided to try the book after I had seen the movie. The film had blown me away, and I wanted to find out the whole story, without the Hollywood details. Read more
Published on Oct. 8 2008 by Jack Blatant
5.0 out of 5 stars Tells it like it was... and is.
My dad served in Vietnam. I've been in Iraq. This book tells it like it was in Vietnam and, in many ways, how it still is today. Read more
Published on June 11 2007 by Everett Black
5.0 out of 5 stars FRIGHTENINGLY REAL
I saw the movie & thought I would give the book a whirl. This book is extremely well written & frighteningly real. Read more
Published on Feb. 9 2005 by Blade-57
5.0 out of 5 stars Impossible to put down...
This book, about one of the first battles of the Vietnam War using large-scale deployment of US forces, is impossible to put down. Read more
Published on July 5 2004 by James F. Anderson III
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply Wonderful
Simply put, it was one of the most amazing, most moving books I have ever read in my entire life. It helps that the two writers were actually there at the battle and so provide a... Read more
Published on June 8 2004 by Kellen
5.0 out of 5 stars A Superb Work
I own 20-30 books written about the Veitnam War. This is without a doubt one of best I have ever had the pleasure of reading. Read more
Published on March 18 2004 by Ken Laine
2.0 out of 5 stars Dry Yet Accurate
Well I have to say this book definately was an accurate account
of what occured in Vietnam. The brutality and anguish the soldiers went through was accurately told but was dry... Read more
Published on March 17 2004 by Big Q
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