Tuesday, January 29, 2008
Here is a review I wrote on the book "The Battle of An Loc" by James Wilbanks for the Military History Book Club. A must have book for anyone with an interest in Viet-Nam. This is a very good read. The Battle of An Loc was a major battle of the Vietnam War that lasted from April 13 to July 20, 1972. It culminated in a decisive victory for South Vietnam’s Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN). The struggle for An Loc was one of the most important battles of the war. It saw the introduction of conventional warfare and tanks by the North Vietnamese Army (NVA). The ARVN forces halted the NVA advance towards Saigon. It delayed the war's end by three years.
The author, James Wilbanks, was present and wounded at An Loc. This is not only his account, but gives insights from the North Vietnamese and US Advisor's after action reports plus other communist documents. The role of the unending US air support, the bravery of the US air crews, and the orchestration by the Forward Air Controllers to the battle’s victory for the ARVN and US Advisor's is covered in warranted great detail. The inability of the NVA to have armor and infantry work together in more conventional warfare is clearly brought to light and documented. Wilbanks gives insights into Richard Nixon’s Vietnamization’s perceived success by the politicians and its ultimate failures. This is a must have read and must have addition to the library for anyone with interest in the war in Viet-Nam. Read by Jimmie A. Kepler in January 2006.
There is a movie based on this book. I read the book first and was surprised when I saw the movie. They had left out the second battle. It was a battle that was just as bloody as the first, but without LTC Moore commanding. General Moore and Joseph Galloway have written a fine book. It should be must reading for every military officer and politician. I found this book to be consuming my attention. It was very hard to put down. The narrative of the training, deployment, battle, wives back at Fort Benning, battle, deaths and death notifications by cab drivers, and the stupidity of the leadership that lead to the second battles terrible losses. We Were Soldiers Once and Young is terrific book! I was in junior high school when the battle of Ia-Drang took place. I remember it vividly. My dad had returned months earlier from his first duty in Viet-Nam. I was living in a military family. I watched soldiers march to and from training daily from my school's playground. I can still vividly recall the CBS evening news story with Walter Cronkite discussing the impact of all the deaths on Fort Benning and Columbus, Georgia. I wish I had read this before I served as a US Army Infantry platoon leader. I have a cousin who graduated from high school with co-author Joseph L. Galloway in Refugio, Texas. Buy it, read it, and keep it in your library. Read in November 2005.
How the North Won: A Military History of the Civil War by Herman Hattaway and Archer Jones is a scholarly look at the Civil War. Hattaway and Jones have produced a great book on Civil War logistics, planning, and administration. They authors seem to focus more on the logistics and strategy side over the tactical side. The book was very good, but at times, it was a dry recitation of chronology, dull facts, and statistics. I had to force my way to complete the book, and it took two attempts to get it read. Most copies of the book will collect dust on some university library bookshelf. It is too deep and too dry for most readers. Better to borrow this book from your library than spend your money purchasing the book. Read in April - June 2005 by Jimmie A. Kepler.