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Subject: Book on VietNam "Tunnel Rats"? rss

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Kristopher
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Almost finished a really good novel about a heli pilot in 'Nam (CW2). And it's really gotten my itch going to learn more about the war.

Specifically, anyone know of any good books on "tunnel rats" - those gutsy guys that would go down the enemy holes armed with nothing but a pistol? There's got to be an exciting book out there about them.
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rod humble

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The Tunnels of Cu Chi by Tom Mangold is good. Be warned though, it does not pull any punches when it comes to describing how horrible it was for both sides.
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Jim Ransom
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rodvik wrote:
The Tunnels of Cu Chi by Tom Mangold is good. Be warned though, it does not pull any punches when it comes to describing how horrible it was for both sides.


I read this as well many years ago, and recommend it. It was enjoyable and informative, and gave some perspective to the few tunnel scenes from the movie Platoon.
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THE MAVERICK
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Hope you don't mind an off-Tunnel-topic suggestion, but I recently read a Vietnam war book that was a great, great read and I have been wanting to recommend it to someone.

Once you get out of the tunnels, check out The Village by Francis "Bing" West. Highly recommended and conveniently available in popular e-reader formats (I read it on a Nook).
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Matthew Jones
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The Maverick wrote:
check out The Village by Francis "Bing" West. Highly recommended and conveniently available in popular e-reader formats (I read it on a Nook).


Bing West is a favorite historian of mine for modern conflict.

The Osprey series has this to offer. http://www.amazon.com/Viet-Tunnels-Fortifications-Vietnam-Fo...

Sorry to say I haven't read it, but it's author did serve in Vietnam.

I seem to remember a book my friend read in high school about 20 years ago that was about or had a section on the "tunnel rats", I can picture the cover but I can't see the name in my mind's eye. Maybe it was Cu Chi.

You might have to do the historian thing and find a book and flip to its bibliography first.
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Jim P.
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There are two or three documentaries about the tunnels that air frequently on the military history channels. They are worth looking out for as they show the interiors of the tunnel systems. One, I remember, takes a camera deep within the Vinh Moc tunnels near the South China sea. The shows also feature film of the tunnels from the sixties shot by US and ANZAC tunnel rats.

If I see one upcoming, I will post the details here. Then again, you can probably find them all on youtube with this search query:

https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=tunnel+rats+vie...
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Kristopher
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rodvik wrote:
The Tunnels of Cu Chi by Tom Mangold is good. Be warned though, it does not pull any punches when it comes to describing how horrible it was for both sides.


Sounds exactly like what I'm looking for.
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Kristopher
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The Maverick wrote:
Hope you don't mind an off-Tunnel-topic suggestion, but I recently read a Vietnam war book that was a great, great read and I have been wanting to recommend it to someone.

Once you get out of the tunnels, check out The Village by Francis "Bing" West. Highly recommended and conveniently available in popular e-reader formats (I read it on a Nook).


I don't mind off topic. I only read CW2 because my father-in-law let me borrow it - I thought it looked interesting. I'm not a military novel reader, so would never have picked it up, but it's really good.

And my main focus of reading as always been WWII. So I'm trying to branch out in my reading.
I've read A Bright and Shining Lie, Kiss the Boys Goodbye, On Strategy: Analysis of Vietnam and The Soldiers' Story: Vietnam in their Own Words. I'm always interested in reading more.

I'll check out these others.
 
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Osprey has a book in their Warrior series about Tunnel rats:

http://www.ospreypublishing.com/store/Tunnel-Rat-in-Vietnam_...
 
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Rick Noetzel
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rodvik wrote:
The Tunnels of Cu Chi by Tom Mangold is good. Be warned though, it does not pull any punches when it comes to describing how horrible it was for both sides.


That's the one that sprung to mind. Very readable and enjoyable.
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Mike Hoyt

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A good, non-fiction, account of helicopter pilot in Vietnam is "Chickenhawk"
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Max Way
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I must apologize, as it isn't about tunnel rats, but since you seemed to accept recommendations on interesting books with unique perspectives on the Vietnam War, I highly recommend:

"One a Warrior King", written by Dr. Terry Turner (under the pseudonym David Donovan).

I can't think, off the top of my head, of a single book which better portrays both riveting action (the description of an ambush led by the author is but one such account) and the personal struggles of one officer in Vietnam. I could not put this book down; it was hard to pause reading even to visit nifty historic sites!

The author was the First Lieutenant in charge of a 4-man MAT (and two Vietnamese militia units) in a district near the Cambodian border. The book chronicles his numerous struggles, both external and internal.

The author's accounts of the external challenges he faced are informative and well-written. A clear picture is presented of what it was like for the author to carry out military operations against the VC with Vietnamese Militia, gain the trust and respect of a Vietnamese community, and manage a small team far away from support, supplies, and Saigon.

In a pleasant surprise, I found the author's accounts of his internal struggles equally compelling. I confess I was somewhat cynical going into these parts of the book, as I always wonder about the potential biases in the self-reflections an author chooses to commit to publication, and instinctively expected something of a heavy-handed treatment of the subject matter in one way or another (Hollywood has trained me well in that regard, I suppose).

The author does an excellent job providing his own perspective as an idealistic (but not naive) young American dealing with the realities of the Vietnam War, the responsibilities of command and diplomacy, and the psychological effects of holding exceptional power (in addition to the respect and authority that being the "voice of America" in the district entailed, the author could, essentially, on his word alone have any person he designate killed).

In short, I strongly urge you to read this book when you have a moment. It isn't on Tunnel Rats, and for that I apologize again for the off-topic nature of the recommendation, but I think you'll enjoy the read.
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Bill Eldard
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Lhowser wrote:
I've read A Bright and Shining Lie, Kiss the Boys Goodbye, On Strategy: Analysis of Vietnam and The Soldiers' Story: Vietnam in their Own Words. I'm always interested in reading more.

I'll check out these others.


After your tunnel reading, you might check out We Were Soldiers Once ... And Young by Hal Moore and Joseph Galloway. It's the book the movie We Were Soldiers was based on, though as you'll see in the book, there was a whole 'nother intense battle fought after Moore's 1/7 Cav was relieved by the 2/7 Cav, this one consisting of an ambush of the 2/7 while it was enroute to LZ Albany for evacuation.

If you are going to do a lot of Vietnam War reading, I also recommend Shelby Stanton's Vietnam Order of Battle: A Complete Illustrated Reference to U.S. Army Combat and Support Forces in Vietnam 1961-1973 book. It's a great, detailed reference for all US Army units (there are sections on the USMC and allied units, too), down to battalion level and, in some cases, even lower. It covers when they arrived in country, the divisions/brigades they were attached to, base locations and major operations, and dates of departure. There is also extensive information on Army vehicles and weapons, and country-wide situation maps in 6 month intervals, locations of US Special Forces camps, MACV-SOG, etc. The front of the book has pages and pages of color images of all the unit insignia (shoulder patches both authorized and unauthorized; unit crests; and qualification badges such as parachutist wings of the several nations). As a military history nut, I've found it very useful.

Stanton also has a similar book in US Army Order of Battle in WW2.
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Kristopher
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I'm sure there are a LOT of Vietnam war books out there which I haven't read. (And I'll be honest - I only read HALF of A Bright and Shining Lie.)

I mostly look for "what was the war REALLY like" type book. I really like personal accounts of things. It makes it more... well, personal. And I'm honestly NOT interested in the "All soldiers were rapist druggies and the US had no business being over there" kind of books. I can watch Platoon/Apocalypse Now/[insert Hollywood Vietnam war movie here] any time and get that.

And I've been meaning to pick up "We were Soldiers." The movie's great, so I can only imagine the book being even better.

Thanks! I'll add these to the list.

 
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Kristopher
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Ooh, I can get that at my local library! Thanks.
 
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Bill Eldard
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Quote:
I mostly look for "what was the war REALLY like" type book. I really like personal accounts of things. It makes it more... well, personal. And I'm honestly NOT interested in the "All soldiers were rapist druggies and the US had no business being over there" kind of books. I can watch Platoon/Apocalypse Now/[insert Hollywood Vietnam war movie here] any time and get that. . .


Regarding Platoon, there is a book written by Robert Hemphill, who commanded Co. B, 3/22 INF, 25th Infantry Division when Oliver Stone was in it. It's titled Platoon: Bravo Company, and according to Hemphill, recounts the 'true story' of Bravo Company through his eyes. I haven't read it yet, so I can't comment on it.
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I've actually been lucky enough to visit these tunnels. Extremely claustrophobic - it was pitch black and my back and shoulders were rubbing against the tunnel ceiling & walls even though I was doubled over - then to my surprise the Vietnamese guide told us the tunnels had been significantly widened to accommodate western tourists. How guys fought down there is beyond me.
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Bill Eldard
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keithrose wrote:
I've actually been lucky enough to visit these tunnels. Extremely claustrophobic - it was pitch black and my back and shoulders were rubbing against the tunnel ceiling & walls even though I was doubled over - then to my surprise the Vietnamese guide told us the tunnels had been significantly widened to accommodate western tourists. How guys fought down there is beyond me.


Just the thought of going into a little tunnel like that armed with a .45 or other pistol, a flashlight, and a set of 'Mickey Mouse' ears (for hearing protection) sends chills up my spine. Suddenly coming face to face with the enemy in that confined space. Booby traps. Not for me.
 
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Kristopher
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Eldard wrote:
keithrose wrote:
I've actually been lucky enough to visit these tunnels. Extremely claustrophobic - it was pitch black and my back and shoulders were rubbing against the tunnel ceiling & walls even though I was doubled over - then to my surprise the Vietnamese guide told us the tunnels had been significantly widened to accommodate western tourists. How guys fought down there is beyond me.


Just the thought of going into a little tunnel like that armed with a .45 or other pistol, a flashlight, and a set of 'Mickey Mouse' ears (for hearing protection) sends chills up my spine. Suddenly coming face to face with the enemy in that confined space. Booby traps. Not for me.


Wow. I can't wait to read this book.
 
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Kristopher
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Eldard wrote:
Quote:
I mostly look for "what was the war REALLY like" type book. I really like personal accounts of things. It makes it more... well, personal. And I'm honestly NOT interested in the "All soldiers were rapist druggies and the US had no business being over there" kind of books. I can watch Platoon/Apocalypse Now/[insert Hollywood Vietnam war movie here] any time and get that. . .


Regarding Platoon, there is a book written by Robert Hemphill, who commanded Co. B, 3/22 INF, 25th Infantry Division when Oliver Stone was in it. It's titled Platoon: Bravo Company, and according to Hemphill, recounts the 'true story' of Bravo Company through his eyes. I haven't read it yet, so I can't comment on it.


Today, I actually started reading "Heart of Darkness" - based in turn of the century Africa and the Congo versus Vietnam like in Apocalypse Now, but still thought I would read it.
 
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Kristopher
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Just finished reading Tunnels of Cu Chi last week. Really good book, though I couldn't help but take the stuff from the Communist side with a large grain of salt. Especially the stuff that read like a Communist recruitment pamphlet.

Thanks for the Recommendations.

(I'm currently halfway through Big West's The Village - that's really good as well.)
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Jim P.
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Quote:
If I see one upcoming, I will post the details here.


Tonight at 3AM Central time on MILH, is a program called Cities of the Underworld. This episode is about the tunnel system used in Vietnam during the war. Chu Chi is featured.

DVRs are a wonderful thing.
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Tom O'Neill
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I picked up this book and am about 1/3rd of the way through it. Great recommendation. Thanks.
 
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