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ANNALS OF VIETNAM

Welcome to the Annals of Vietnam, a collection of articles, reviews, and images dealing with America's misadventures south and north of the 17th parallel. I have a particular interest in the early years, because that's when I was there as a reporter for the left-liberal magazine, The Nation, which was so financially strapped that it would even publish reports even from a Republican like me.

What Burns & Co hath wrought ...

Well, I did manage to slog my way through the Ken Burns version of the Vietnam War, and I have to say that if the conflict was unsatisfactory, he and his team managed brilliantly to convey that fact. This they did by giving us untold hours of confusing, often conflicting, usually one-sided, and -- incredibly! -- sometimes boring film clips. I doubt the end result satisfied anyone, including the sponsors.

I did enjoy the clip of Jane Fonda clapping her hands like a schoolgirl as she climbed aboard one of the anti-aircraft guns that had shot down so many of her countrymen. And to the series' credit, the audio (though not the video) did quote her to the effect that those same Americans were war criminals who should be tried "and probably executed."

And my apologies to the 173rd Airborne Brigade! In my surly assessment of one of Mr Burns's earlier episodes, I said that the US Marines assaulted Hill 875, when in fact it was the US Army.

The title of Rice Paddy Recon is a bit deceptive, since the "recon" amounted to just a third of his 19-month tour. For me, anyhow, it was the most fascinating third. Book publishers and movie producers, what sells the product is a battle, preferably one that is big and bloody. The Marines in a reconnaissance team have something else in mind: they want information, though they're certainly willing to shoot the odd VC or NVA soldier, especially if the engagement might result in their taking a prisoner. (I was astonished by how often that happened, and even more by the number of enemy walk-ins, sick or weary soldiers who simply gave themselves up.) A recon team typically included six or eight men. They came in by helicopter and went out the same way, often under fire, sometimes by clipping themselves to a folding aluminum ladder, lowered through the jungle canopy, and riding that ladder all the way home. A fascinating read. Blue skies! — Daniel Ford

Incident at Muc Wa

For students:

'I need to know everything about Vietnam by Thursday!'
The Vietnam reading list (John Tegtmeier)

From life to fiction to film:

The Only War We've Got (a reporter's journal, 1964)
Incident at Muc Wa (the novel, 1967)
Burt Lancaster takes charge (filming, 1978)
Go Tell the Spartans (the movie, 1978)
The critics look at Go Tell the Spartans
A Vietnam slide show

Early days in South Vietnam:

'They just fall apart in mid-air' (Vietnam dispatch, 1964)
How was the American soldier trained? (Fort Dix 1956)
Was America losing in Vietnam under JFK?
A Special Forces team under threat of attack
The Tonkin Gulf incidents, summer 1964
Philippe Drouin--aka Cowboy--interpreter and warlord
'Aggression from the North' (the State Dept. White Paper)
Did Japanese soldiers fight for the Vietminh?

Remembering the quagmire:

Spad Two goes missing in Laos
'The Collapse of the Armed Forces' (Col Robert Heinl)
Remembering the Phoenix Program (Larrry O'Daniel)
The Media and Vietnam (Erin McLaughlin)
The myth of the girl in the photo (Ronald Timberlake)
Joseph Ellis: the Vietnam vet wannabe
'My Heart's Content' (Pat Conroy)
To what extent is the US experience in Iraq comparable to their experience in Vietnam? (long essay, spring 2008)

Books and stuff

Ten best books about the Vietnam War (broadly defined
Nam-a-Rama: a wonderfully funny novel
Stolen Valor: Vietnam, lies, and the media (Burkett)
Clark Welch and the battle of Ông Thanh
The Village (Bing West)
The Vietnam War on video
When Thunder Rolled: F-105 over Vietnam (Rasimus)
Green Berets in the Vanguard, 1953-1963 (Archer)
Only War We've Got: Early Days in South Vietnam (Ford)
Incident at Muc Wa (Ford)
War Story (Morris)

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

The Only War We've Got

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Posted November 2017. Websites ©1997-2017 Daniel Ford. All rights reserved.