Cowboy: interpreter, warlord, one more casualty

THE WARBIRD'S FORUM

Viet Nam magazine

"What other outcome was there?"

That question was posed by Daniel Elsberg, father of the Pentagon Papers, in a chance encounter with (I think) Steve Sherman at a conference about the Vietnam War. The second issue of Viet Nam Veterans for Factual History is an attempt to answer Mr Elsberg's question. Was Vietnam an "unwinnable war"? VVFH Magazine is a free download (contributions are welcome, of course) at the www.vvfhmag.org website. You must register, if you haven't already done so; and if you have registered, you must log in. You'll then be given the password that opens the PDF. (If you're new to the site, you should download volume one as well.)

Personally, I've never been entirely convinced that the United States lost that war, which is the conventional wisdom. How do you lose a war when your last combat troops left the scene of battle two years ago? However that may be, there's a lot of good reading in this second issue of VVFH Magazine, as there was in the first. I expect to be still learning from it when November rolls around.

This is a much-hyped book, and I'm afraid I contributed to the hype with my Wall Street Journal review the other day. Temper your expectations! It's a good read, but it's hardly the earth-shaking event promised by the blurbs. (A blurb, as perhaps you know, is praise from a well-known colleague who probably hasn't read your book, and who expects you to return the favor with equally fulsome praise for one of his.) The Escape Artists is a good read, though the story is slow to begin and can be confusing at times. In brief, thirteen British officers (no enlisted men need apply, of course) tunneled out of the Holzminden prison camp in 1918. Altogether, twenty-nine officers got out before the tunnel collapsed. Nine of them covered the 120 miles to the Dutch border, on foot, while the tenth -- a fluent German speaker -- brazenly boarded trains that took him on a scenic tour of western Germany, dining meanwhile in cafeterias and even stopping for a shave and haircut before he walked across the border to freedom. For more, see my WSJ review.

Also reviewed this month on the Warbird's Book Club: Rampage, a searing history of the Rape of Manila in February 1945, and Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan, a streaming mini-series well worth six evenings of your time. Blue skies! — Daniel Ford

Welcome to the forum!

Here are a thousand or so files on airplanes, pilots, and the wars of the past hundred years, grouped under these headings:

Annals of the Flying Tigers
Annals of the Brewster Buffalo
Annals of Poland: war and exile, 1939-1948
Japan at War, 1931-1945
Annals of the Chinese Air Force
Glen Edwards and the Flying Wing
Remembering Bluie West One
The Spadguys Speak (carrying a nuke to Sevastopol)
Annals of Vietnam
War in the Modern World

Plus these excellent places to look for more: