Archive for May, 2015

the-american-experience-in-vietnam

Vietnam-War-Hub-A When it was originally published, the twenty-five-volume Vietnam Experience offered the definitive historical perspectives of The Vietnam War from some of the best rising authors on the conflict. This new edition updates the war on the fifty years that have passed since the war’s initiation.

The official successor to the Pulitzer Prize–nominated set, The American Experience in Vietnam combines the best serious historical writing about the Vietnam War with new, never-before-published photos and perspectives. New content includes social, cultural, and military analysis; a view of post 1980s Vietnam; and contextualizing discussion of U.S involvement in the Persian Gulf, Iraq, and Afghanistan.

Vietnam-War-Hub-AOn first impressions, you could be forgiven for thinking that The American Experience in Vietnam: Reflections on an Era is just another coffee table book.  Dip inside, though, and you’ll be impressed by how much is in there.  The photos are – of course – simply excellent, but the accompanying text is deep, and insightful.  What’s more, it also manages to strike that balance between focusing on the stories and experiences of individuals, and that of explaining their role in the grander scheme of things.

All aspects of the war are covered, making it a truly engrossing read for anyone with an interest in The Vietnam War.

vietnam-war-protestAnd it still manages to look good on your coffee table.

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In 1945 it was announced that Allied airmen who had taken part in the Battle of Britain in 1940 would be entitled to the “immediate” award of the 1939-1945 Star, with Battle of Britain Clasp. This was the only Clasp awarded with the 1939-1945 Star.

In the following years holders of the Clasp held informal get-togethers. In 1958 the Battle of Britain Fighter Association (BBFA) was formed, with full membership only available to holders of the Battle of Britain Clasp. Lord Dowding was the first President. Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother became Patron and the post is now held by HRH The Prince of Wales.

news-detail-1_23As well as organising reunions and providing some welfare assistance to members and widows, the Association has played a key role in researching entitlement to the Clasp and pronouncing on claims for the Clasp.

The History of the Battle of Britain Fighter Association seems rather an odd subject for a book – and odd subject it certainly is.  The work is, however, obviously a labour of love for Simpson, and his enthusiasm for the subject shines through, making it an enjoyable, if not especially engrossing, read.

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The rather odd subject matter – which is basically a history of some historians – may mean this book struggles to find a readership, but I certainly hope it does, as Simpson is an excellent writer.  I look forward to his next title, for sure.

  

There are many broad studies of the Vietnam War, but Company of Heroes offers an insight into the harrowing experiences of just a small number of men from a single unit, deep in the jungles of Vietnam and Cambodia. It is the account of a Medal of Honor recipient whose brave actions were forgotten for over three decades, Leslie Sabo Jr. 

Sabo and other replacement soldiers in Bravo Company, 3rd Battalion, 506th Infantry (Currahees), 101st Airborne Division, were involved in intense, bloody engagements such as the battle for Hill 474 and the Mother’s Day Ambush. Beginning with their deployment at the height of the Tet Offensive, and using military records and interviews with surviving soldiers, Eric Poole recreates the terror of combat amidst the jungles and rice paddies of Vietnam. 

  

Company of Heroes is exceptionally well written. This is a book about a very small group of people and their place in a very large conflict. What’s great is that it makes you care about Sabo and his friends straight off of the bat. They are people you know and care about by the end of the first few chapters, which is something very few writers seem able to accomplish. 

Sabo is the focus of this book, and it’s easy to see why. He is a lively and likeable character. It’s easy to understand why he was so well thought of by all who knew him, and Poole presents him very well. 

 

The contrast presented between the soldiers home life and their time “in country” is very jarring. It really hits home the hardships that every trooper had to face in the Vietnam War.

Highly recommended – nay, essential – reading for anyone with an interest in The Vietnam War.