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Subject: Book reading: Last Stand at Khe Sanh rss

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Ladson
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While I've been waiting for a delivery truck to bring my copy of Fire in the Lake, I've been doing some Vietnam War reading. Last Stand is mostly an oral history; interviews with many of the Marines at Khe Sanh. As such, it reads kind of like the Illiad where every single spear-chuck is meticulously documented. The author tries his best not to miss anyone's account, so you get a lot of stories that have a flavor of "Once upon a time, the was a Corporal named Johnny Wheeler. Then his face was ripped off by a grenade and he died. The end."

Don't get me wrong. It's well worth reading the tales of heroism, survival, efforts to keep up morale, and experimenting. One experiment that sticks in my mind is when they used dowsing rods to try to find NVA tunnels.

One of the lingering questions is whether the siege at Khe Sanh was General Giap's attempt at another victory like Dien Bien Phu, or was merely a ruse for the Tet Offensive. The author doesn't outright disagree with Sheehan's outspoken assertion in A Bright Shining Lie that it was ruse, but suggests that Sheehan is a little too sure. After all, it was one hell of a butcher's bill for the NVA if it was just a ruse. Sure, General Giap said he wasn't going for a Dien Bien Phu later, but frankly, if a Communist told you the sky was blue, most of us would take a quick peek out the window to make sure.


Anyway, I'm glad I read this book.
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Hunga Dunga
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I'm hoping that in three months or so, we can vote for a book about Vietnam for BOOK CLUB.
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Jim P.
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"A Truth thats told with bad intent Beats all the Lies you can invent It is right it should be so Man was made for Joy & Woe And when this we rightly know Thro the World we safely go Joy & Woe are woven fine A Clothing for the soul divine ."
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There is another very excellent book that follows the action leading up to Khe Sanh by Edward Murphy called The Hill Fights:



I humbly submit it is a 'must read' for the Khe Sanh AO.

Also, John Prados designed a game called Khe Sanh, 1968 back around ATO #5 or so...he also wrote a big book on the battle(s) called Valley of Decision that is worth a look.

Finally, there is tons of Khe Sanh footage on YouTube...lotsa footage of cargo planes flying low and attempting to push supply out of the ramp door without touching down.

I am NOT trying to be a know-it-all -- but I like reading about this period of the war and have looked into it pretty deeply.

Another game that touches on this subject is Operation Pegasus. Judd made a great players aid for this game available in the Files section.
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Jason Cawley
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Giap definitely wanted Khe Sanh to be Dien Bien Phu re-run. He didn't understand how different the scale of firepower the US had to support its defense was, compared to the French, until that firepower cut his attacking divisions to ribbons.
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Robert Stuart
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Scottgun wrote:
One of the lingering questions is whether the siege at Khe Sanh was General Giap's attempt at another victory like Dien Bien Phu, or was merely a ruse for the Tet Offensive. The author doesn't outright disagree with Sheehan's outspoken assertion in A Bright Shining Lie that it was ruse, but suggests that Sheehan is a little too sure. After all, it was one hell of a butcher's bill for the NVA if it was just a ruse.


He was going for a victory. Like you say, way too much NVA blood shed for him not to have been.
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