Tag Archives: U.S. history

Hue 1968 by Mark Bowden (2017)

I have read a number of superb books about the Vietnam War. Some of my favorites include David Maraniss’s They Marched Into Daylight, Stanly Karanow’s Vietnam – A History, and Neil Sheehan’s A Bright Shining Lie. I’ve read so many that I honestly paused, thinking I don’t need to read anymore about this subject. Yet, something told me that “this one will be worth it.” So, I bought it.


 

Mark Bowden’s Hue 1968 – A Turning Point of the American War in Vietnam (2017 Atlantic Monthly Press – An Imprint of Grove Atlantic New York, NY — 540 pages) is UNEQUIVOCALLY one of my favorites on this topic. Bowden is the author of Black Hawk Down. Yet, Hue – 1968 may be his finest work (and should definitely garner the attention of a horde of movie producers). It’s a story that distinctly deserves being shared on the screen.

Hue 1968 by Mark Bowden

Bowden’s ability to describe the day-to-day of this historic fiasco was both captivating and unique. He displays his skills of creating context and dialog that rivet the reader in the midst of the action on each and every page. It’s uncanny. PERIOD!

 

The depth and breadth of the research that went into this work is absolutely mind boggling. Yet, the manner in which Bowden crafts the story line, and the way he introduces and breathes life and personality into the  actors is awe inspiring and makes the story what it truly is: another human tragedy displayed in the context of war. Yet, the courage, bravery, patriotism and fortitude displayed by the combatants is unparalleled – even though “the way their idealism and loyalty were exploited by the leaders, who themselves had lost faith in the effort, is a stunning betrayal. It is a lasting American tragedy and disgrace.” p. 527. Bowden tells the story of all those involved in this battle reflecting the respect and dignity he possesses for all involved.

Don’t let the 542 pages (plus appendices) scare you away from this phenomenal story. It is a page turner in every sense of the word. You simply cannot put the volume down once you’ve started the journey.

Bowden’s Hue 1968 is an even-handed treatment of this historic battle. It is not one of those lopsided volume’s that clearly has some socio-political agenda to grind. I appreciated that.

The human dimension of this work – focusing on how the day to day reality affected individuals (combatants, civilians, politico’s etc.) brings the reader into an intimate relationship with all concerned. This is a monumental task for any author – one that Bowden accomplishes throughout the book.

You cannot pick up this book without being compelled to put it down – pause – contemplate – digest – breathe deeply – then pick it up again and keep reading. The sheer intensity of the reality that Bowden brings to life demands it.

Devour Hue 1968 – A Turning Point of the American War in Vietnam by Mark Bowden. You’ll be glad you did. I certainly am. It is a significant contribution to the history of the Vietnam War – and much, much more. It has pertinent lessons and wisdom for the ongoing challenges faced by humanity in the 21st century. BUY THIS BOOK!!!

Author Mark Bowden

 


 

A Nation of Deadbeats by Scott Reynolds Nelson

When you read this book you garner a vastly deeper appreciation for the terms scholar, historian, research and story teller. You also are blessed with a unique narrative regarding the history of America’s financial disasters in the nineteenth century. I’ve done quite a bit of reading in this genre – and this book is a MUST READ.


 

A Nation of Deadbeats
I truly enjoyed this work. Actually, I became immersed in the narrative and learned more than I could have hoped.

This work has encouraged me to continue to “explore the places where maps have failed us…pushing along in the dark.” (p. 254). Yet, the historical evolution of U.S. capitalism that this work recounts, illuminated the absence of pre-existing maps from which to plot the path ahead. However, this work also revealed for me that man, at every juncture, with his seemingly eternal penchant for wealth and power, and organization – emerged, and injected itself at every opportunity.

For me, this book distinctly reinforced the incontrovertible evidence inhabiting the historical record; when you combine man and money, the emergence of mayhem is a matter of fact. Although we currently live in a time where our culture suggests that we know most everything, can control our environments, and predetermine outcomes of socio-economic (and geo-political) policies – I remain a healthy skeptic…particularly as it relates to ALL things economic. Again, this volume is a reminder to me to remain sensitive to the alerts from my “crap detector” (attached to my forehead, swiveling in a 360, 24-7 – and – solar powered). The “smugness” that inhabits our intellectual, social, economic and political discourse today remains, in my opinion, one of our most profound, enduring weaknesses – as a species – particularly as folks continue to espouse rigidly militant “certainty” about issues; past, current and future. I, for one, appreciate those who possess a high regard for questions vs. those who attempt to cram answers down my throat…as the author’s commentary at the end of the book, directed at his colleagues, elicited deeply appreciative smirks from this reader.

Yes, as some of the author’s final remarks in this book indicate, I too have ongoing concerns about the unregulated and mysterious miasma of rogue waves of capital that seemingly slosh between the shores of our globe…outside the cognitive awareness of the ordinary citizen…capital without margin (“margins impose safety”… p. 251), incalculable leverage, incomprehensible risk, and a source of instability whose magnitude and morph I remain acutely concerned with…as inertia continues to thrust us into places where maps are under construction…pushing along in the dark.…to a yet, unknown destination. Yet, the human motivations remain seemingly unchanged.

This particular work is profoundly appreciated by this reader. Thank you so very much Mr. Reynolds.

I highly recommend it.