Vietnam War Bookshelf

Part 1

"Vietnam was what we had instead of happy childhoods."
--Michael Herr, 1977

The 13th Valley
by John Del Vecchio
"There have been a number of excellent books about Vietnam . . . but none has managed to communicate in such detail the day-to-day pain, discomfort, frustration and exhilaration of the American military experience in Vietnam." --Joe Klein, "The New York Times Book Review"

36 Years and a Wake-up: An American Returns to Vietnam
by Carey J. Spearman, James D. Criswell (Editor)
Carey Spearman teaches us about the modern Vietnam veteran by revealing his most intimate emotions about his first return to Vietnam in 36 years since the war.

365 Days
by Ronald J. Glasser
A medical officer in Japan treating wounded American soldiers, Glasser chooses his title from the wounded men's preoccupation with the number 365 -- the number of days in a Vietnam tour of duty. The stories deal with the sense of futility expressed by dying and wounded young men.

After Tet: The Bloodiest Year in Vietnam
by Ronald H. Spector
The TET Offensive of 1968 was supposed to mark a turning point in the war in Vietnam. In this brilliant and harrowing work, the bestselling author of "Eagle Against the Sun" shows the war that the TV missed -- and reveals that TET was only the beginning.

A Band of Brothers: Stories from Vietnam
by Walter McDonald
First Sentence: "They warned me that VC in peasant pajamas shoot at planes coming in for landing."

Aftershock: Poems and Prose of the Vietnam War
by Jim Nye
First Sentence: "So we'll walk this trail a little . . ."

Against the Vietnam War: Writings by Activists
by Mary Susannah Robbins (Editor)
The protest movement in opposition to the Vietnam War was a complex amalgam of political, social, economic, and cultural motivations, factors, and events. "Against the Vietnam War" brings together the different facets of that movement and its various shades of opinion. Here the participants themselves offer statements and reflections on their activism, the era, and the consequences of a war that spanned three decades and changed the United States of America. The keynote is on individual experience in a time when almost every event had national and international significance. This collection includes classic documents and new essays by Noam Chomsky, Arlene Ash, Howard Zinn, Staughton Lynd, Martin Luther King, Jr., James Fallows, Eugene McCarthy, Daniel Berrigan, H. Bruce Franklin, and Jane Sass. A foreword by Staughton Lynd considers the events of the Vietnam War in the context of the present war in Iraq.

Against the War
by Roland Menge
This novel is somewhat different from other novels about the era in that it is an attempt to provide a wide societal view including both the war and the counter culture. The novel is set on a precise historical time frame over a period of four and a half years (April 1967- October 1971).

America's Longest War: The United States and Vietnam 1950-1975
by George Herring
Widely recognized as a major contribution to the study of American involvement in Vietnam, this comprehensive and balanced account analyzes the ultimate failure of the war, and the impact of the war on US foreign policy. The book seeks to place American involvement in Vietnam in historical perspective and to offer answers to vital questions.

America's War in Vietnam: A Short Narrative History
by Larry H. Addington
A great summary.

An American Ordeal: The Antiwar Movement of the Vietnam War (Syracuse Studies on Peace and Conflict Resolution)
The first interpretive history that covers the antiwar movement in this country throughout the entire Vietnam era. Richly illustrated with compelling photographs of the times, the book chronicles the war struggle that provoked a struggle about America.

An American Requiem: God, My Father, and the War That Came Between Us
by James Carroll
This book is Carroll's story of what it was like to be an anti-war priest in the '60s while his father was an Air Force general deeply involved in Pentagon planning.

Angel's Truck Stop: A Woman's Love, Laughter, and Loss during the Vietnam War
by LtC Angel Pilato Pilato
How do you survive when everything you believed about the world is turned upside down? In 1971, at the height of the Vietnam War, testosterone-fueled fighter pilots take off from Udorn Air Base in Thailand on sorties over dangerous targets in North Vietnam. Some come back, many do not. Into this fog of war enters Captain Pilato, a starry-eyed idealist, assigned to manage the officers’ club. The fighter pilots christen the officers' club “Angel’s Truck Stop”, which becomes the backdrop for the conflicts, challenges, and choices she encounters. It reveals a woman’s struggle to fit into a man’s world. As the realities of war erode her ideals, she realizes the future doesn’t hold the certainties it once did. Angel’s Truck Stop is hilarious and at times, heart- wrenching. This memoir keeps the reader engaged from beginning to end.

Another Vietnam: Pictures of the War from the Other Side
An intense collection of images, many never seen before, from the cameras of North Vietnamese photographers. Each included photographer has a chapter highlighting his personal stories and captivating pictures.

April Fools
by George W. Schwarz
Relates the suffering of the Vietnamese during evacuations, 1972-1975 period. Schwarz worked for American companies in Vietnam during the war.

A Bad Attitude: A Novel from the Vietnam War
by Dennis Mansker
Mansker was a company clerk (i.e. a "chairborne ranger") at the 543rd Transportation Company at Thu Duc and the 151st Transportation Company at TC Hill, Long Binh.

A Band of Brothers: Stories from Vietnam
by Walter McDonald
First Sentence: "They warned me that VC in peasant pajamas shoot at planes coming in for landing."

Battle Notes: Music of the Vietnam War
by Lee Andresen
This book is the only complete discography of ALL the music of the Vietnam era. By Lake Superior College professor, Lee Andresen, the book details the famous and infamous songs and combines student essays. It highlights the obscure and unknown tunes. A tremendous source of accurate information. A treasure for Vietnam vets. Many fun illustrations.

Bayou Samurai
by Franklin D. Rast
The year is 1971. American involvement in Vietnam is winding down and the United States prepares for reversion of Okinawa back to Japan. Enter Indiana Jones-like Captain Rast, fresh from his tour of duty in Vietnam, ready to begin his next adventure on “The Rock.” Assigned to the top-secret “Operation Red-Hat,” the removal of WMD’s from Okinawa, Captain Rast is catapulted into a world of military cover-ups, renegade officers, CIA operatives, sinister drug lords, murder, firefights, and (Oh, Yes!) steamy sex. Rast’s first-rate novel, filled with colorful and sometimes loony characters, snappy and witty dialogue, and biting political commentary, is an exciting and action-packed book from beginning to end.

The Best and the Brightest
by David Halberstam
This 1973 classic is an unforgettable chronicle of John Kennedy's Camelot and its legacy -- featuring remarkable portraits of the men who conceived and executed the Vietnam War, including Robert McNamara, McGeorge Bundy, Dean Rusk, and Presidents Kennedy and Johnson.

The Best of Vietnamese & Thai Cooking:
Favorite Recipes from Lemon Grass Restaurant and Cafes

by Mai Pham
"Mai Pham has woven wonderful memories between the recipes of this beautiful book: memories of her childhood in Bangkok, her Vietnamese family and their reverence for good food, her husband's search for the best pho recipe in Saigon. The recipes themselves are light, healthy, and loaded with the unique flavors -- strong and delicate, tangy and mild, sweet and mouth-puckeringly sour, always exotic and delicious -- of Southeast Asia. Pham owns the Lemon Grass Restaurant and Cafes in Sacramento, and is a well-known teacher of Southeast Asian cooking."

Better Times Than These
by Winston Groom
"Winston Groom captures the essence of the Viet Nam war in this remarkable book. As you travel with these soldiers to Viet Nam and into battle, you feel all the emotions that made this war so controversial. Groom's writing is so vivid that it brings the war right to your doorstep where it can't be ignored or misunderstood. A powerful must-read. Once you start "Better Times than These," you won't be able to put it down. And after you've read it, you won't be able to get it out of your mind." --Roz Levine,

Black Virgin Mountain: A Return to Vietnam
by Larry Heinemann
First Sentence: I was a soldier once, and did a year's combat tour in Vietnam with the 25th Infantry Division at Cu Chi and Dau Tieng from March 1967 until March 1968.

by Wallace Terry
An oral history unlike any other, "Bloods" features twenty black men who tell the story of how members of their race were sent off in disproportionate numbers and the special test of patriotism they faced.

A Buffalo's Revenge
by Bob Lupo
Doc Lusane, James Jaggers, and Pee Wee Anson struggle to survive in the chaos of a war with no beginning no end and no purpose. The very land is an enemy. It is a war where the people dance to the rhythms woven in the tears of centuries. It is a war where the rice paddies, the jungle, the animals, the air, wind, sun, signifies permanence in a trial of blood and bones. It is a trial with no jury and no exit. The home front explodes in a swirl of anarchy and assassinations. Doc and Jags and Pee Wee discover limits, discover a horizon beyond themselves, beyond the gritty need to kill to live, beyond the first instinct of the first breath, beyond the craving desire to walk, talk, groove, and hate, back, back in the World. They discover love beyond the peculiar cadence of language or dialect. They discover life beyond race or color. They discover themselves.

Bob Lupo, formerly a Wall Street bond analyst, was a combat medic in Vietnam.

C.M.A.C.: Saga of a Saigon Warrior
by James J. Finnegan, Vietnam Vet, U.S. Army Signal Corps
"Things were pretty screwed up by the time Lt. James A. Callaghan reached Saigon. TET '68 had just ravaged the country and there were still daily terrorist activities in and around the city. The C.M.A.C. Command was waiting for him and this is his story."

Carrying the Darkness: The Poetry of the Vietnam War
by W. D. Ehrhart (Editor)
"Some of the poems are quite touching, while others reveal harsh experiences soldiers faced, occasionally using crass expressions. As editor W.D. Ehrhart points out, authors range from war veterans to those who were draft resisters and activists, as well as 'living-room observers.' Some of the poets include Robert Bly, John Balaban, Yusef Komunyakaa, Walter McDonald, David Mura, Bruce Weigl, and Ehrhart himself." --Amazon Reader

The Cat from Hue: A Vietnam War Story
by John Laurence
This is the true story of a young American reporter who went to Vietnam with an open mind and an innocent heart and was plunged into a world of cruel beauty and savage violence. His experiences in the war forced him to question all his assumptions about his country, the nation's leaders and his own sanity.

Catfish and Mandala: A 2 Wheeled Voyage Through the Landscape and Memory of Vietnam
by Andrew X. Pham
The son of Vietnamese parents who suffered terribly during the Vietnam War and brought their family to America when he was 10, Pham, on the cusp of his 30s, defied his parents' conservative hopes for him and his engineering career by becoming a poorly paid freelance writer. After the suicide of his sister, he set off on an even riskier path to travel some of the world on his bicycle. In the grueling, enlightening year that followed, he pedaled through Mexico, the American West Coast, Japan, and finally his far-off first land, Vietnam.

The Cave
by Sam McGowan
"The Cave" is the story of 20-year old Tobin Carter, a young Tennesseean with a passion for caves and cave exploration, who is shot down over eastern Laos in 1966 while on the classified Blind Bat C-130 flare mission. Knowing that Laos is honeycombed with caves, Carter had made plans and a special survival kit containing items that he knew would be useful in a cave. Despairing of rescue, Toby realizes that he is going to die in Laos. When he makes a surprising discovery in the cave, he elects to go out in a blaze of glory in his own personal war against the North Vietnamese, particularly the gun crews who had shot him down. But another discovery causes him to change his plans and instills inside him the will to live. Although "The Cave" is a work of fiction, it is based on the author's experiences as a C-130 flareship crewmember combined with his later experiences exploring caves in the hills of Eastern Kentucky. It is an aviation book, a military/adventure story and an outdoor/adventure tale that will appeal to veterans, military aviation enthusiasts and outdoorsmen, especially cavers.

Circle of Helmets: Poetry and Letters of the Vietnam War
by Rick St. John
"Circle of Helmets" is a poignant account of one infantryman's tour in Vietnam -- told through his letters written just hours after actual combat, coupled with raw and intense poems about those experiences written by that same man thirty years later.

Conduct to the Prejudice of Good Order
by Dan Dane
"Conduct to the Prejudice of Good Order" offers a glimpse of conditions in the First Cavalry Division around Bien Hoa during the last years of the Vietnam war. In 1971, Bill Blake encounters fragging, racism, and heroin addiction while defending soldiers in court-martial trials as a young Army JAG lawyer. Much like the soldiers he defends, Blake finds himself in conflict with his superior officers. The story of a drafted, civilian attorney serving as an Army lawyer in Vietnam gives this book a unique perspective. Captain Blake's experiences accentuate many of the troublesome aspects of the war, including the draft, authority of commanding Generals, domestic demand for troop withdrawal, and in the end, the manufacture and delivery of heroin to the American troops. Although conditions varied widely during the ten years of the war, the historical fiction genre allows veterans to recognize historically correct settings in Vietnam during 1971 and 1972. The fictitious characters and circumstances provide an entertaining read for those who lived through the era as well as those for whom Vietnam is only a curiosity out of the distant past. This short novel is one of the most readable and provocative accounts of the Vietnam war.
Dan Dane earned a JD degree from the University of Arkansas and was licensed to practice law in 1969. He immediately entered the U.S. Army and received a direct commission as a JAG officer. After a short stay in Arizona he was re-assigned to the Third Brigade of the First Cavalry Division in Vietnam.

The Color of Truth: McGeorge Bundy and William Bundy: Brothers in Arms: A Biography by Kai Bird
This dual biography of the brothers who were top aides to Presidents Kennedy and Johnson is an outstanding study of the mindset that allowed the United States to become slowly ensnared in the Vietnam War. Both McGeorge Bundy, a national security advisor, and William Bundy, a senior official at the Pentagon and State Department, were liberal anti-Communists trying to balance American interests in Southeast Asia between what they considered the dangerous extremes of both Left and Right.

The Cu Chi Tunnels (A Video)
During the war in Vietnam, thousands of people in the Vietnamese province of Cu Chi lived in an elaborate system of underground tunnels. Originally built in the time of the French colonial occupation, the tunnels were enlarged during the American presence.

Decent Interval
by Frank Snepp
April 29, 1975: the evacuation of Saigon. It’s every man for himself; thousands of panic-stricken Vietnamese clawing at the Embassy gates, begging not to be left behind as the last of the Americans save themselves.

Dien Bien Phu: The Epic Battle America Forgot
by Howard R. Simpson
The fall of Dien Bien Phu ended French control of Indochina and opened the way to US commitment to the area (and to US mistakes of a similar nature). Simpson -- former US consul general, novelist, and writer on defense matters -- was there as a USIA correspondent. His account, on the 40th anniversary of the battle, is personal, and includes many of his photos as well as photos from the Foreign Legion archives.

Diverting the Buddha
by Bob Swartzel
A political thriller set in early 1966 Vietnam. Swartzel was a witness to the main events outlined in his novel. He served with the U.S. Army Signal Corps in Hue, South Vietnam, through the rise and fall of the Buddhist democracy movement. He was an eyewitness to the cover-ups that followed the machinegun attack on Lieutenant Thuc and the pro-democracy students.

Don's Nam
by Franklin D. Rast
"In my role as a Vietnam War literature bibliographer, I have read hundreds of books dealing with the war. Most of the memoirs and novels are junk or the same basic book over again. Rast's book is not junk. There is no other Vietnam War book even a little bit like it. His lively narrative (from an Army lieutenant's point of view) deals with 1969-70, when Nixon was taking his time withdrawing the U.S. from the war. The subject is the extremely hazardous job of convoy commander assigned to the 'Orient Express,' the 534th and 379th Transportation Companies, 7th Transportation Battalion. Rast has written a unique and fascinating book filled with comic absurdity, phantasmagoric scenes and believable characters of all ranks and races. And he includes the Vietnamese, unlike the authors of most Vietnam War memoirs and novels. The insanity of the war has never been better explored and exploded. I highly recommend 'Don's Nam.'" --David A. Willson

Don't Mean Nothing: Short Stories of Vietnam
by Susan O'Neill
Former army nurse O'Neill's debut story collection captures the physical and psychological tensions of her 13-month tour of duty in Vietnam with refreshing maturity and a profound sense of compassion. This collection of short stories is unique in its representation of a group from whom we rarely hear in the literature of the Vietnam War: the women who were sent there.

The Easter Offensive: Vietnam, 1972
by G. H. Turley, James Webb
The largest North Vietnamese offensive mounted in the history of the war.

Encyclopedia of the Vietnam War: A Political, Social, and Military History
Here are more than 900 alphabetically arranged entries -- plus 39 primary source documents -- that illuminate every aspect of the Vietnam War.

Fields of Fire
by James Webb
"Few writers since Stephen Crane have portrayed men at war with such a ring of steely truth." --Houston Post

by Jack Fuller
Fragments is a story about how war can make everything explosive -- even love -- and how two friends try to put the pieces of their lives together again.

Fire in the Lake
by Frances Fitzgerald
This Pulitzer Prize-winning 1973 classic looks at U.S. intervention from the vantage point of Vietnamese culture and society.

Fortunate Son
by Lewis Puller, Jr.
The son of a military hero describes his own experiences in combat, recounting his tour of duty, where he won numerous medals of valor, but lost both legs and most of one hand in the process. Winner of the Pulitzer Prize.

From Both Sides Now: The Poetry of the Vietnam War and its Aftermath
by Philip Mahony (Editor)
"Wanting to revive awareness of the Vietnam War, which he sees slipping into oblivion because Americans would rather not talk about it, Philip Mahony has crafted a new kind of war-poetry anthology. He has chosen poems by both Americans and Vietnamese; by both adults involved in the fighting and children, now grown, who were displaced by it; and by both combatants and protesters." --Booklist

Ghosts In The Wire
by Franklin D. Rast
Ghosts In the Wire is a vivid first-person account of what many veterans experienced upon their return from the war in Vietnam. It is a sequel to Rast's first book -- "Don's Nam," which quintessentially depicts his tour of duty in Vietnam during 1969 and 70 with the Orient Express.

The Ghosts of Vietnam: A memoir of growing up, going to war, and healing
by Jim Stewart
Raised in rural northeastern Maryland, Jim Stewart spends his childhood playing baseball, catching frogs in the woods, and learning to play guitar. A personal tragedy strikes the day he graduates from high school. Jim finds the need to leave home and joins the army in February of 1966.

After a grueling stint in basic training, Jim is shipped off to Vietnam as a military policeman. He endures mortar shelling, takes part in Operation Cedar Falls, and makes lifelong friends along the way. While stationed at Saigon, he even meets a girl, falls in love, and has a child.

After his tour of duty ends, Jim returns to Vietnam determined to be with Mai. When he starts working at the Army Post Exchange in Saigon, Mai gives birth to their daughter. Jim insists they move to America, but Mai refuses. Jim then makes a decision that will haunt him the rest of his life.

Rich with detail and brimming with emotion, Jim shares his extraordinary journey through a tumultuous time, revealing his internal struggles as he copes with "The Ghosts of Vietnam."

A Good Scent From a Strange Mountain
by Robert Olen Butler
The 15 stories collected here in this Pulitzer Prize book, all written in the first person, blend Vietnamese folklore, the terrible, lingering memories of war, American pop culture and family drama. Butler's literary ventriloquism, as he mines the experiences of a people with a great literary tradition of their own, is uncanny; but his talents as a writer of universal truths is what makes this a collection for the ages.

The Green Berets
by Robin Moore
This monumental, bestselling work -- the inspiration for the classic movie starring John Wayne and one of the first wake-up called given to the American public about Vietnam -- plunges us into the chaos that was our nation's first experience with unconventional warfare.

Hamfist Down!
by G. E. Nolly
It's August, 1969. Hamilton “Hamfist” Hancock has been shot down over Laos, and must use all his skill, and luck, to avoid capture and certain, violent death. To facilitate his rescue, he must become a ground FAC and direct airstrikes against North Vietnamese targets on the Ho Chi Minh Trail. And, to survive, he must engage in hand-to-hand combat. But Hamfist may face his greatest battle after his rescue. Back in Vietnam, while recuperating at the hospital at Cam Ranh Bay, he experiences a sapper attack. And, following his return to the air, Hamfist is tormented by a flying error, an error which may have cost a comrade his life. Only time will tell if Hamfist can regain his self-respect and passion. On his final flight, Hamfist faces a brutal enemy in a life-or-death duel that will determine if he will be shot down once again or return home to his soul-mate. The rescue, the airborne mistake and the final battle force Hamfist to reevaluate his priorities in his career, in his flying, and in his life.

George Nolly served as a pilot in the United States Air Force, flying 315 combat missions on two successive tours of duty in Vietnam, flying O-2A and F-4 aircraft. He was the last Air Force pilot to complete 100 missions over North Vietnam. While in the Air Force, George received the Tactical Air Command Instructor Pilot of the Year Award.

Hamfist Over Hanoi
by G. E. Nolly
Air Force pilot Hamilton “Hamfist” Hancock thinks he has left the Vietnam War behind him, after completing a hazardous tour of duty as a Forward Air Controller (FAC) flying over the Ho Chi Minh Trail. He is based at Yokota Air Base, in Japan, and becomes comfortable flying generals and other VIPs around Asia in his Sabreliner executive jet. He is adjusting to his new marriage, and aside from the stress of TDY assignments, life is placid. But the war returns with a vengeance when Hamfist suffers a personal loss at the hands of the North Vietnamese. Hamfist knows that the only way he can find inner peace is to go back for another combat tour, to try to bring the horrific war to a speedy end. And this time, he will fly a fighter, the top-of-the-line F-4 Phantom II. Hamfist checks out in the F-4 and arrives at his base in Thailand just in time for the start of Operation Linebacker, the bombing offensive over Hanoi. He soon finds himself flying over the most heavily defended area in the world, dodging Surface-to-Air Missiles (SAMs) and dueling with enemy aircraft, the vaunted MiG-series fighters. And along the way he has picked up two new goals: completing 100 missions over North Vietnam and defeating a MiG in aerial combat. Only time will tell if Hamfist will achieve his 100 missions, score a victory over a MiG and, most important, help end the war.

George Nolly served as a pilot in the United States Air Force, flying 315 combat missions on two successive tours of duty in Vietnam, flying O-2A and F-4 aircraft. He was the last Air Force pilot to complete 100 missions over North Vietnam. While in the Air Force, George received the Tactical Air Command Instructor Pilot of the Year Award.

Hamfist Over The Trail
by G. E. Nolly
It's 1968. Hamilton Hancock is on the fast track to become a fighter pilot. He is slated to fly an F-100, F-105 or F-4 in Vietnam. Then, the "needs of the service" intervenes, and he is assigned to fly one of the smallest, slowest aircraft in the Air Force inventory, the O-2A. Hamilton becomes a Forward Air Controller (FAC) in Vietnam, and picks up the nickname "Hamfist". While Hamfist flies in air combat over the Ho Chi Minh Trail and battles an enemy gunner with a deadly record, on the ground he must also battle his inner fears and personal demons. Inspired by actual events. Contains strong language.

George Nolly served as a pilot in the United States Air Force, flying 315 combat missions on two successive tours of duty in Vietnam, flying O-2A and F-4 aircraft. He was the last Air Force pilot to complete 100 missions over North Vietnam. While in the Air Force, George received the Tactical Air Command Instructor Pilot of the Year Award.

Hell in a Very Small Place: The Siege of Dien Bien Phu
by Bernard B. Fall
The 1954 battle of Dien Bien Phu ranks with Stalingrad and Tet for what it ended (imperial ambitions), what it foretold (American involvement), and what it symbolized: A guerrilla force of Viet Minh destroyed a technologically superior French army, convincing the Viet Minh that similar tactics might prevail in battle with the U.S.

Highway One
by James E. Davidson, Vietnam 1968
"When the light at the end of the tunnel in Vietnam was getting pretty dim in 1968, the Pentagon decided to 'Vietnamize' the war. The United States' strategy was to turn the fighting over to the South Vietnamese, supplying them with weapons, material, and advisors. However, the problem with this new policy was not so much the persistence of the North Vietnamese and Viet Cong soldiers, but the American advisors and their advice. These Americans weren't necessarily incompetent, it was just that they were sent to Vietnam for only a one-year tour of duty and always felt like they had to do something. So when a young Army lieutenant, who only wants out of the Army, is sent to a small village to build a rifle range for the local self-defense force during his last fourteen days in-country, he becomes caught between the Army's gung-ho philosophy and the villagers' traditional Asian concept of the relationship between time and war. To further complicate things, he is drawn to a beautiful woman in the village who is mysteriously close to the local Viet Cong."

Historical Atlas of the Vietnam War
This comprehensive atlas covers all aspects of the controversial war, providing in-depth historical background, charting the social and economic aspects of the war, and examining Vietnamese military and political strategy.

Home Before Morning: The Story of an Army Nurse in Vietnam
by Lynda Van Devanter
"How Van Devanter survives all of this to become, incredibly, a stronger person for it is what makes her book so riveting." --San Francisco Chronicle

Vietnam War Books, Part 2

Vietnam War at Amazon

Vietnam War on DVD at Amazon

Vietnam War Kindle Books