WE WERE SOLDIERS ONCE...AND YOUNG IA DRANG - THE BATTLE THAT CHANGED THE WAR IN VIETNAM

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Moore (Ret.), Lt. Gen. Harold G., and Joseph L. Galloway. New York: Random House. Copyright 1992. As New. Hardcover with dustjacket, 412 pp. Photos, maps.

In the first significant engagement between American troops and the Viet Cong, 450 U.S. soldiers found themselves surrounded and outnumbered by their enemy. This book tells the story of how they battled between October 23 and November 26, 1965. Its prose is gritty, not artful, delivering a powerful punch of here-and-now descriptions that could only have been written by people actually on the scene. In fact, they were: Harold Moore commanded the men of the 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry, who did most of the fighting, and Joseph Galloway was the only reporter present throughout the battle's 34 harrowing days. We Were Soldiers Once... combines their memories with more than 100 in-depth interviews with survivors on both sides. The Battle of Ia Drang also highlights a technological advance that would play an enormous role in the rest of the war: this was perhaps the first place where helicopter-based, air-mobile operations demonstrated their combat potential. At bottom, however, this is a tale of heroes and heroism, some acts writ large, others probably forgotten but for this telling. The book is a frank record of the emotional reactions of the GIs to the terror and horror of this violent and bloody encounter. It was a bestseller when first published, and remains one of the better books available on combat during the Vietnam War. Made into a feature film by Paramount in 2002, starring Mel Gibson as Moore and Barry Pepper as Galloway.

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