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The Tunnels of Cu Chi

3.99  ·  Rating Details  ·  955 Ratings  ·  83 Reviews
Recounts the discovery of a network of tunnels around Saigon and the resulting underground fighting between Viet Cong guerrillas and American special forces for control of the tunnels.
Mass Market Paperback, 320 pages
Published June 1st 1986 by Berkley (first published January 1st 1985)
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(showing 1-30 of 1,460)
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Michael Burnam-fink
Jan 17, 2012 Michael Burnam-fink rated it it was amazing
Shelves: vietnam, vietnam-war, war, 2012
Do you think you're hard? Do you think you're some sort of Tier Zero Modern Warfare Elite Ops Deniable Badass? Do you even think you know about such people? Until you've read this book, you don't know shit.

Cu Chi was a district just 25 miles from Saigon. Starting from the French Indochina War, local guerrillas carved tunnels out of the strong laterite clay that made up the district. By 1968, the Iron Triangle had over 200 miles of tunnels, with three and four level base camps including barracks,
Patrick Hogenboom
Aug 02, 2012 Patrick Hogenboom rated it really liked it
Read this in preparation for my trip to vietnam (my first trip to asia ever) to visit my girlfriend who worked there as a tour guide.
I read this book, describing the US side and The Sorrow of War: A Novel of North Vietnam describing the vietnamese side. This combination gave me some insight and a lot of respect for the resilience and resourcefulness of the vietnamese. Who had been at war or occupied for centuries by that point, and for whom war had become engrained into their culture.
When I met
Endah setiolaksono
Jul 24, 2007 Endah setiolaksono rated it it was ok
Shelves: history, arsitektur
i just can say this war just a mistake. Viet cong just defence her country from US army. What Us army done in vietnam war so ... ughh. If u come to vietnam go to War museum. U will see what US army done to this people who want defance they beloved country.
Jarrell Fisher
Jun 27, 2013 Jarrell Fisher rated it it was amazing
A fantastic book, balanced and fair. The author while obviously writing from the perspective of an American doesn't have a bias against the Vietnamese, but neither is he especially critical of the American war effort, instead he focuses on the tunnels. The book is neatly divided into various chapters that explore different facets of the tunnels. You get chapters on women in the tunnels, apparently the Vietnamese have been very progressive and allowed women to own property since ancient times, so ...more
Theo Chen
May 02, 2016 Theo Chen rated it really liked it
Fascinating and an interesting in-depth look at the ingenious tunnels used by the Communist guerillas in Vietnam. A fine attention to detail and the book manages to convey the cramped and terrible conditions that the guerilla's had to endure without making it too grim. The tactics used by the guerilla's were very clever and fascinating to discover.
Jul 09, 2008 Zach rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The book provides an interesting and highly detailed description of the developement of the tunnel complexes, how they were used by the VC, and US efforts to counter them. The book is effective in that it remains relatively neutral describing the ingenuity of the VC (use of animals as traps/warning; concerts in the tunnels; jury rigging equipment (such as tubes from mines for surgical operations)) but also the bravery of the US Tunnel Rats. The author makes it clear that much of the US efforts w ...more
Tom Nolan
paperback 4x6
Nov 05, 2008 Art rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone interested in Vietnam War.
Why We didn't win in Vietnam, is what I would have titled this book.
This book gives account of how the 25th Infantry Division set up shop right on top of the tunnels of thier enemy.
The Lessons Learned were not learned and countless lives were hurt and destroyed because of American Pride and ignornace.
I was almost lynched and considered to be a traitor of my outspokeness of what I learned from this story.
Very good reading and not a dull moment.
Omnipotent Dystopian Now
This is a fascinating read about the underground tunnels that kept Americans from defeating the Vietnamese. What's interesting about this book is that it examines the topic from a dual point of view, sharing experiences from both Vietnamese and American veterans, providing the reader with a more objective point of view than is commonly found in military history texts. I highly recommend this well-researched book.
Mar 24, 2014 Lisa rated it it was ok
The tunnels of Cu Chi were a tunnel system located almost directly between the free capital city of The Republic of Vietnam, Saigon, and the Ho Chi Minh trail which the communists used to bring men and supplies from Communist North Vietnam into the "battlegrounds" of South Vietnam. The Vietnam war was rarely fought in large set piece battles, but was mainly a guerilla war. The main mode of ambush by these communist guerilla fighters was via these elaborate tunnel systems.
As of page 88, this book
Aug 29, 2014 Clare rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Who would have foreseen that over a million GIs would serve in Vietnam, and that the war would drag on for over ten years? How did a 'backward' nation outface the world's greatest superpower? Largely in part to the battle in the tunnels of Cu Chi between Viet Cong guerrillas and American 'Tunnel Rats.'
This area covered 200 miles of underground tunnel complexes of as many as four separate levels.

'In one month, throughout South Vietnam, the Americans fired about a trillion bullets, 10 million mor
Aug 22, 2008 George rated it really liked it
There are many, many bad books about the war in Viet-Nam. This is one of the GOOD books about the war in Viet-Nam. If you want to learn a bit about the war on the ground, buy this book.
Mike Wigal
Jul 31, 2014 Mike Wigal rated it really liked it
It turns out I bought a pirated copy from a guy at the War Remnants Museum in Saigon who had lost both arms and his sight due to unexplored ordnance. There were quite a few misspellings. But the story was clear. Those who lived and fought within the CuChi tunnels on both sides were extraordinary people. The NLF, aka Viet Cong, showed an almost superhuman resolve to win their independence from the colonial and western powers. Sitting in a Starbucks in Ho Chi Minh City, seeing the fashionable youn ...more
Sep 02, 2014 Susan rated it it was amazing
I found this gem of a book in a half price book store and was amazed at how ingenious the Viet Cong were during the war effort. The author wrote a fair and balanced perspective of the Vietnam war effort. I was amazed of how the tunnel system worked to the advantage for the Viet Cong against the Special Forces who became known as Tunnel Rats. The so called Tunnel Rats had to explore, destroy, and hopefully not find the enemy and lose their life. The Tunnels were booby trapped with punji sticks, v ...more
Feb 04, 2011 Evan rated it it was amazing
As military journalism goes, this is a superlative example. It details the struggle for a specific patch of real estate near Saigon during the Vietnam War. There's no point in trying to summarize any of this book; the stories are incredibly grim, heartbreaking, and alternately uplifting (though those are few and far between). With the benefit of hindsight, the authors dissect the American campaign on the ground and devote equal or greater weight to the perspectives of the Viet Cong guerrillas, w ...more
Aug 25, 2013 Lucynell rated it it was amazing
For whatever reason one of the most important aspects of the whole Vietnam conflict (if not the most important, as this book quietly implies), the tunnel wars, seem neglected by popular culture. Maybe because it is too harrowing.
British journalists Tom Mangold and John Penycate refuse to take sides, which is always, always, a blessing. They lay out their interviewees' accounts and you can decide for motives.
The tunnel system, and the people who lived, fought, killed and died in them, Vietnames
Bob Schmitz
Apr 23, 2012 Bob Schmitz rated it really liked it
Great detailed story of the intricate, extensive, ingenious tunnel network built over 30 years by the Viet Cong in the laterite clays near Saigon. The author tells the stories from both sides and I found myself sympathizing with both the Vietnamese living in unbelievably harsh conditions underground and the Americans getting shot and frustrated by an elusive enemy. There was tremendous bravery on both sides. Hand neither hand grenades thrown into the tunnels nor bombing from above did much to de ...more
Feb 07, 2011 Matt rated it liked it
As "war" books go, this is a great one. The authors took one slice of the Vietnam war and painstakingly interviewed and researched everything about it. The result is a very dense and complete discussion of the tunnels. I imagine this is a favorite for anyone who studies this war in particular. For my purposes, it may be a little much.

There is one big reason to read this book, and that's the fact that the story itself is impossibly remarkable. You read some books for their style and others for th
Christopher Rex
Dec 27, 2012 Christopher Rex rated it it was amazing
Incredible. If you truly want to understand the "American War" (aka: Vietnam War) and why things went so disastrously wrong for The World's Most Powerful Military, then this book is an essential. What the Vietnamese were able to accomplish "one basketful of dirt at a time" is beyond all comprehension. This book provides an incredible insight into the elaborate tunnel-system of over 250km that was built by the VC during the "French War" and continued during the "American War."

The author's base th
Nov 26, 2015 Steve rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is not only about the tunnels but presents stories from both sides of the Vietnam war. There were heroes and incredible hardship not only for Americans but for the viet cong side as well. One thing I learned to appreciate in the book is the incredible resilience, patience, determination and resourcefulness of the Vietnamese people. How they survived and often out maneuvered the technologically advanced American war machine with simple primitive weapons and the system of tunnels. On the ...more
One of the better books on the Vietnam War on the personal level. The authors were able to interview survivors of both sides of the tunnel warfare which essentially won the war for the Vietnamese communists. Both sexes took part in the warfare, including combat, on the Vietnamese side as had occurred in earlier Vietnamese history. The VC had entertainers to keep up morale, just like the US side. What is interesting is the different attitudes of the American commanders, the CG of the 1st Infantry ...more
Feb 01, 2011 Stefan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history-politics
The Tunnels of Cu Chi focused on a very specific, but important aspect of the Vietnam War: the extensive Viet Cong tunnel systems. These tunnels allowed whole units to move throughout South Vietnam undetected and protected the Viet Cong from the US’s superior firepower. I was amazed to learn about the size, complexity, depth and sophistication of these tunnels. Numerous levels, carefully disguised entrances, lookout points, sniper nests, specialized trapdoors (designed specifically to limit the ...more
William Bernal
Aug 07, 2015 William Bernal rated it it was amazing
Insight of the underground tunnels in Vietnam that where used by the vietnamese to fight of the Americans during the war.

People lived under these tunnels for years, fearing bombs or grenades being launched into their hiding spot, these "guerrilla style" warriors spread nearly as much fear between the Americans as Americans did over them...

They defended their turf with incredibly harsh survival strategies.
Steve Lane
Mar 12, 2016 Steve Lane rated it really liked it
I bought a pirated copy of this book from a street vendor in Saigon and could not put it down. The strange thing is while interested in the book I had no desire to go see the tunnels themselves. It's a good book about an effort of a people that I found to be delightful hosts whose friendliness made me forget about wanting to see anything regarding the dark period that was that war.
James Cardona
Mar 18, 2016 James Cardona rated it really liked it
A great classic that, to me, explains the real reason why the Americans had such a difficult time securing South Vietnam. The beginning of the book is told like a novel and this is perhaps the best part of the book. The remainder is an exposition on the construction of the tunnels, the living conditions in them and the typical life of a tunnel rat. Great stuff!
J.L. Day
Apr 13, 2015 J.L. Day rated it it was amazing
Recommended to J.L. by: Randy Shytles
This book is phenomenal! READ IT! I honestly do not know what to say, the accuracy and realism is clearly authentic and makes it obvious this was not written by a "hack," but rather that you are being guided on an extraordinary journey and actually following the bootprints of someone that walked the walk.
Paul Grossman
Feb 26, 2015 Paul Grossman rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Tunnels of Cu Chi

This is an incredible description of a part of the conflict that has gotten a minimal amount of attention. The stories of these men are incredible. They just may be the bravest of the brave. Do yourself a favor and read this book.
Robert Morganbesser
Aug 14, 2014 Robert Morganbesser rated it it was amazing
Great book about Viet Cong tunnels near a major US base during the Vietnam War and the men who battled in and around them.
Rich Hornbuckle
Jul 23, 2014 Rich Hornbuckle rated it really liked it
Well done. This book is full of shifting perspectives between Vietnamese and Americans with many anedotal portions from veterans. It also contextualizes the Cu Chi tunnel system strategically, and historically.
Aug 20, 2015 Steve rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting book on the United States Army's 1st and 25th Infantry division who had units who were tunnel rats. The tunnel rats volunteered to go down into tunnels built by the Viet Cong with only a flashlight, pistol, and a knife. The tunnels were used by the North Vietnamese and Viet Cong as living quarters, storing supplies, and hospitals. This book also mentions about booby traps the Viet Cong used. Some that were primitive, but effective such as punji sticks-sharpened bamboo stakes placed i ...more
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“I could smell the Viet Cong, really, I could smell Charlie. It wasn’t just his body sweat or the urine. There were times when I could hear the breathing, real quiet; you could hear a person breathe, and I’d know he was in there, and I didn’t go any farther. I just said to myself: In this dark corner of a tunnel is where the animal belongs, a rodent belongs. I’m becoming like a rodent, but still I don’t belong. Yes, I could smell Charlie. And he knew me. The type of cologne I used, the aftershave—that’s when we stopped using it altogether. But there was more than that. There was the scent that told you there was somebody in the tunnels. We became so tuned up after a while that when the other person would flick an eyelid up or down, you really knew he was there, in the corner, not even hiding anymore. Just sitting and waiting. They were the ones you never killed. You just backed out and told them up above the tunnel was cold.” 1 likes
“This is how I see humanity. When enemies come to your country, destroy the countryside and your village, kill your countrymen, your comrades and the defenseless wounded, you have to kill them and defend your compatriots; that is true humanity.” 1 likes
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