The Only War We've Got

The Only War We've Got: Early Days in South Vietnam

"In The Only War We've Got, you'll meet the men and women--soldiers and reporters, foreigners and locals, heroes and fools--who populated South Vietnam in the early years of what turned into the longest and most bitter war in American history (so far, anyhow!). These dispatches were written on a Hermes portable typewriter in spare moments between one adventure and the next. It's impossible not to read them with a sense of dread for an American enterprise that began with such good intentions, and that turned out so badly." (Annals of Vietnam)

The Only War We've Got In the spring of 1964, I took the $2,500 advance for Now Comes Theodora and bought a ticket to Saigon. (Advances were larger then, and tickets more expensive.) I rode through a mangrove swamp with the armored cavalry, walked to the Gulf of Siam with the Rangers, flew with American helicopter and flare-ship crews, and went on a search-and-destroy mission with a montagnard Strike Force. Though intended for publication, my journal of those months was made old news by the larger war launched by President Johnson that fall.

So I used the experience as grist for a black novel, Incident at Muc Wa, which became the Burt Lancaster classic, Go Tell the Spartans. Then, thirty-some years later, I got out those typewritten dispatches and read them for the first time. I was amazed at how well they stood up, so I decided to put them in print, with some of the photos I had taken, as a sort of freeze-frame of how the war stood on the eve of LBJ's escalation of it. The book was published as a quality paperback by iUniverse in May 2001, and an updated version by Warbird Books in 2012, in print and digital editions.

Get the paperback

The paperback is 6x9 inches, 170 pages, with black-white photos, notes and bibliography. It sells for $9.95 plus shipping.
Amazon stores worldwide
Barnes and Noble
Book Depository (cheap shipping worldwide)

Or I'll send a signed copy to your U.S. mail address for retail price plus postage, by Media Mail (cheaper) or Priority Mail (faster; recommended for Alaska and Hawaii). You can pay by check. Finally, you may be able to get it through your local bookstore using the ISBN code 978-1479194728, though there's likely to be a surcharge.

Get the e-book

The digital edition sells for $3.99 (free on Amazon if you buy the print edition). You can get it from these e-tailers:
Amazon stores worldwide
Apple iBooks Store
Barnes & Noble
Scribd retail and lending library
Oyster lending library

Sergeant Sindledecker

Here's the half-title page, showing Sergeant Sindledecker, a fine "old" soldier. A helicopter put me down in a village through which the Vietnamese Rangers were sweeping; I trotted along until I found an Anglo-looking type to whom I could attach myself. At first I had so much trouble understanding his North Carolina accent that I wondered if he wasn't perhaps a French soldier who'd stayed behind and cast his lot with the ARVN.

After the book was published, the sergeant's daughter spotted this page on the web and wrote me about her dad, who'd quit the service in order to bring up his children after a divorce. I sent her the original. I love these meetings that the internet makes possible!

Question? Comment? Newsletter? Send me an email. Blue skies! -- Dan Ford

Incident at Muc Wa

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Posted August 2015. Websites ©1997-2015 Daniel Ford. All rights reserved.