In November 1965, 450 men of the 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry, under the command of Lt.Col. Hal Moore, were dropped by helicopter into a small clearing in the Ia Drang Valley. They were immediately surrounded by 2000 North Vietnamese soldiers. Three days later, only two and a half miles away, a sister battalion was chopped to pieces. Together, these actions at the landing zones X-Ray and Albany constituted one of the most savage and significant battles of the Vietnam War. How these men persevered - sacrificed themselves for their comrades and never gave up - makes a vivid portrait of war at its most inspiring and devastating. General Moore and Joseph Galloway, the only journalist on the ground throughout the fighting, have interviewed hundreds of men who fought there, including the North Vietnamese commanders. This account rises above the specific ordeal it chronicles to present a picture of men facing the ultimate challenge, dealing with it in ways they would have found unimaginable only a few hours earlier. It reveals to us man's most heroic and horrendous endeavour. In this history of one of the most violent periods of the 20th century, the author relates the personal experiences of men on the brink of death for a cause they didn't understand. The book has been adapted for film, starring, amongst others, Mel Gibson.
Publisher and industry reviews
UK Kirkus review
There are plenty of war memoirs out there but Lt Gen Moore's account of the 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry's fierce battles in the Ia Drang valley in Vietnam stands out as a polished, intense and informative piece of work. The subject material is fascinating in itself. Moore's unit was involved in the first major clash between Viet Cong and US forces, as the two sides faced up to each other and tried to learn the tactics that would bring them victory. Unfortunately for Moore's unit, this meant dropping by helicopter into a Viet Cong infested area in November 1965, becoming completely surrounded, and being forced to fight for survival against superior enemy forces. Drawing mainly on Moore's recollections, official documents and reports and the memories of dozens of US and Vietnamese soldiers and officers, the finer details of weapons and tactics will satisfy the serious military historian looking to study infantry combat. But it is the human stories that draw the reader's attention. Oral histories, which play such a major role in compiling combat studies, are intriguing by their very personal nature, and the recollections of American and Vietnamese soldiers are used here to great effect to highlight key moments of the fighting. The book successfully conveys something of the terror and exhilaration of being a young soldier in combat against a determined foe. Countless tales of heroism and fear are the real heart of this book, along with gruesome details of injury and death. The level of detail, large array of personalities and fast-moving action make reading this book difficult at times. Although they occasionally lapse into jingoism, Moore and Galloway deserve credit for meticulous research and for making an effort to study the wider political context of the fighting and events from the enemy's point of view. (Kirkus UK)