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They Marched Into Sunlight: War and Peace, Vietnam and America, October 1967
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They Marched Into Sunlight: War and Peace, Vietnam and America, October 1967

4.16  ·  Rating Details ·  1,229 Ratings  ·  123 Reviews
Here is the epic story of Vietnam and the sixties told through the events of a few gripping, passionate days of war and peace in October 1967. They Marched Into Sunlight brings that tumultuous time back to life while exploring questions about the meaning of dissent and the official manipulation of truth, issues as relevant today as they were decades ago.

In a seamless narra
Paperback, 608 pages
Published October 4th 2004 by Simon & Schuster (first published September 23rd 2003)
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Gary Grubb
Nov 20, 2015 Gary Grubb rated it really liked it
This is a book well worth reading. It's a funny thing, you know. The fact that I graduated from high school in 1965, just in time for the escalation of the Vietnam "war" "police action" "conflict". We were hauled off by the busloads to the nearest military base for our draft physicals within months of walking down the aisle in our caps and gowns. I joined the Navy on the east coast.

After completion of boot-camp we each had the honor of filling out our "dream-sheets". This is when we got to writ
Bryan Alexander
Feb 02, 2015 Bryan Alexander rated it really liked it
Shelves: history, vietnam, cold-war
They Marched Into Sunlight is a fascinating, rich, and moving work of history.

The conceit is unusual. Maraniss focuses on two events from the 1960s which occurred at about the same time. On October 17, 1967, Viet Cong troops ambushed a United States force. On October 18th a group of University of Wisconsin students protested Dow Chemical recruiters, and were attacked by Madison police (one link). They Marched Into Sunlight explores both of these events in painstaking, sensitive detail, then slow
Dec 16, 2007 sdw rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: history buffs, peaceniks
The concept behind this book is smart. Maraniss examines the connections between two seemingly distant events that occur nearly simultaneously: the crushing ambush of the Black Lions squadron in Vietnam on October 17th, 1967, and the protests of Dow Chemical’s recruitment interviews on the campus of University of Wisconsin, Madison on October 18th, 1967. Because the book focuses on a two day period with a set group of actors, the author provides a range of individual stories, provoking the diver ...more
Mike Kershaw
Nov 30, 2012 Mike Kershaw rated it really liked it
I used this book as the basis for an LPD we hosted at Fort Drum prior to deploying to Iraq in 2006. I paired this with an accompanying PBS Frontline Special, "Two Days in October" and was able to involve the surviving company commander who is a central figure in the book. It is the story of a battalion (-) of the Big Red One that gets overrun during heavy fighting with heavy casualties, losing the battalion commander/sergeant major and brigade S3 killed in action in some heavy fighting. It contr ...more
Connie (Ava Catherine)
This is an interesting, well written book about Vietnam. It contrasts the views of the war from the perspective of groups of students protesting on a college campus with those of GIs fighting in Vietnam. At the end of the book, Maraniss reveals the perspective of the commander of the North Vietnamese troops who crushingly defeated the Americans in a critical battle. If you are interested in the Vietnam War and how we were defeated by a lowtech army, this is a great book to read.
Dec 27, 2009 Tom rated it it was amazing
One of the best non-fiction books I've ever read. At first I wasn't going to read another Vietnam book; I figured I had already exhausted the genre. But Maraniss' portrayal of two simulataneous events - a deadly ambush in the jungles of Vietnam and a student protest at the University of Wisconsin that turns bloody - covers the war in a more complete fashion than anything I've ever read. Though this is non-fiction, it reads like a novel. Knowing what lonely death those kids were forced to face in ...more
Dec 14, 2014 Lyz rated it liked it
Shelves: abandoned
Am I about to abandon YET ANOTHER book? It seems I am doing so much more than finishing books these days. What's my deal?? I'm only on page 40 thus far--so I'll definitely give it a few more evenings. Yet... I think I am perhaps not in the right life "mode" these days for David Maraniss' style. Let me explain. I think his work is fascinating. This book (and the one on Obama, also) is obviously meticulously researched. The amount of detail draws the reader into the book, and helps them truly unde ...more
Rodney Harvill
Dec 07, 2015 Rodney Harvill rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
The author dissects two events that happened on October 17, 1967. In the first event, the Battle of Ong Than, two under-strength companies of the Black Lions, a battalion in the 1st Infantry Division, walked into an ambush and found themselves surrounded on three sides and fighting for survival against three battalions of Viet Cong. In the second event, witnessed by the author while he was in college, students at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, held an obstructive protest in the Commerce B ...more

The book's only failing is an occasional moment of absurdity when the reader trips up on Maraniss's biggest challenge, forced on him by the requirements of narrative symmetry: trying to make the lives of self-involved 19-year olds in Madison seem equally dramatic and momentous as the life-and-death events the other 19-year olds are enduring in Vietnam.

That said, the author is scrupulously fair and even-handed and humane about all of his characters, and it reflects well on him; we n
Feb 23, 2016 Jeff rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history, war
Review from my blog:

David Maraniss, They Marched into Sunlight: War and Peace, Vietnam and America, October 1967 (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2002) 572 pages including notes, bibliography and index.

I was in Mr. Brigg's 5th grade class in the fall of 1967. At the same time, David Maraniss was a freshman at the University of Wisconsin, site of one of the first violent anti-war protests. I don't recall any of the anti-war protest in '67 and Maraniss recalls little of the protests, mostly just
Apr 03, 2016 Adrian added it
Maraniss focuses on two events that took place on October 17/18, 1967 which show the beginning of the end for the US in Vietnam. The demonstration against Dow at the University of Wisconsin and the disastrous battle at Lai Khe highlight the two fronts of the war and how circumstances worked against the war effort. The author is excellent as usual in bringing the major characters to life and describing the action. I suspect Terry Allen who was killed at Lai Khe as much as committed suicide by put ...more
Jun 03, 2015 Scottnshana rated it it was amazing
I picked up this book because I thought it was a big picture strategy examination of U.S. political-military performance in Vietnam. It is, however, 2 books--one on the battle of Ong Thanh, and one on the simultaneous protests against Dow Chemical recruiting on campus at the University of Wisconsin. As a career military officer I was looking forward to the former narrative; as a graduate of a midwestern university, I found myself nodding a lot at the latter, as well. I liked the way Maraniss set ...more
Marie Ryan
Aug 31, 2015 Marie Ryan rated it really liked it
I have a friend in the St Vincent de Paul Society who always wears a purple heart recipient baseball cap. He said he was involved in this battle and they wrote a book about it. The book is heavily laden with detail, which didn't bother me on the Viet Nam portions, but which I found a bit overwhelming on the UW Madison side. It took me a long time to read, but by the time I finished, the book owned me. I was completely absorbed in the issues of the time. The most meaningful part of the whole book ...more
Aug 27, 2011 Kristin rated it liked it
Twin tales of October 1967 in Vietnam and Madison, WI. Just started it and it is good.
Paul Peterson
Sep 07, 2016 Paul Peterson rated it really liked it
Loved the writing. At a time when America is, again, being torn by disagreement over war, racial issues, social unrest, etc., the coverage of the scene in Wisconsin was very timely. Also, being from Wisconsin may have added to my interest as I was born and raised there.

Maybe it was the amount of space given to the anti-war protestors. Maybe it was the seeming favoritism of them over the soldiers. Maybe it was just how I view the actions of those protestors, although much of that was forgiven the
Becky Hirtzel
Nov 05, 2015 Becky Hirtzel rated it really liked it
This Pulitzer Prize winning book moves back and forth between two real-life stories: an Army battalion in Vietnam and students at Univ of Wisconsin, and what happens to each in October 1967. Terrific amounts of research and interviews by this Washington Post journalist result in a unique telling of this tale. I enjoyed learning about the average people in these extraordinary situations, plus it was interesting to learn about the actions of now-famous people back when they were young and impressi ...more
Sep 02, 2014 Susan rated it really liked it
The year 1967 was a pivotal year in the history of the United States. The author Maraniss take the reader on an unforgettable journey as he weaves us through 3 very different worlds of time: The death and heroism of the Vietnam soldiers that fought in Southeast Asia, the anger and anxiety of the anti-war protesters and students in the United States and the confusion and unclear behavior of the motives of the officials in Washington.

The book explores a renowned battalion of the First Infantry Div
Mar 31, 2012 Taylar rated it really liked it
I'm FINALLY finished with this book! That's my first reaction.

Now, on to the real review. I wanted to read this because of the Wisconsin connection and wanting to know more specifics about the Vietnam War. This is heavy reading, intertwining the events and people involved in a particular battle on October 17, 1967 in Vietnam and the people and events surrounding a protest against Dow at the UW the same time. These two events weren't necessarily connected, but as the story unravels you find the i
Mark Johnson
Nov 11, 2012 Mark Johnson rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history
Fifty years later, America has not come to terms with Vietnam. Like the Marcomannic wars of the Roman Empire under Marcus Aurelius, Vietnam was the first chastening experience for a people and nation which had come to view itself as invincible. This book focuses on a single month - October of 1967 - which may well have marked the moment when the ultimate outcome became inevitable. The terrible TET offensive is three months away; the American have lost 15000 soldier's lives; the antiwar movement ...more
May 26, 2013 Sarah rated it really liked it
In light of the “holiday” tomorrow, finishing this book was a timely, albiet unplanned, coincidence. Rather than a discussion of this particular book— one of many impressive narratives recounting components of the Vietnam War— I think a broader statement about war itself feels more appropriate for the occasion.

This Memorial Day, as is the case every year, I am reminded of the somber quote from Jeannette Rankin: “You can no more win a war than you can win an earthquake.” This, I think, is the ult
Oct 16, 2013 Richard rated it it was amazing
"They Marched Into Sunlight," is a soulful work of non-fiction. Author David Maranis has given us a few October days in the horrible history of the Vietnam era that define the entire period. He writes with a strong sense of mission which is to chronicle the grief and glory of men at war as well as the confusion and altruism of a sector of the home-front that opposed it.
Impeccably researched from primary sources, "...letters...journal entries...archival documents, and interviews...," Mr. Maraniss
Aug 21, 2013 Kurt rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
63. They Marched into Sunshine, by David Marannis. 535 pages. This is an awesome book that was recommended to me by all around genius and GT Coordinator for the Kimberly Area School District, Ulli Balistreri. The story is set in 1967 or so, when the anti-war protests were going on at the UW- Madison and other campuses around America. The draft was in full swing; student were burning their draft cards, and I was a Freshman at Dodgeville High School. The story juxtaposes between students at the ca ...more
Zack Colman
Jan 28, 2016 Zack Colman rated it it was amazing
Expansive coverage of the middle of the Vietnam War that really focuses on two events over the span of two October days in 1967. Captures both the rise of the protest movement on college campuses as well as the rollercoaster emotions of young people thrown into the fight. Takes a bit of time to build and there are a number of characters to keep tabs on, but Maraniss does a good job of highlighting a few that the reader grows attached to. Overall, a great way to capture the spirit of the period.
May 12, 2015 Andrew rated it it was amazing
An excellent book that has been on my shelf for too many years. Excellently written, I was most impressed by the personal backgrounds that affected the actions of the soldiers, anti-war protestors, and faculty and administrators of the University of Wisconsin. It can be easily forgotten that the Vietnam generation lived immediately underneath the shadow of World War II and the "never again" mentality toward atrocities. As a soldier, I was drawn to this book for the leadership lessons of the 2-28 ...more
Sep 23, 2013 Cara rated it really liked it
They Marched Into Sunlight chronicles the simultaneously-occurring events in Vietnam, Washington D.C., and Madison, WI during October 1967. As someone who grew up in Madison, I found the Madison portions of the book to be riveting. Maraniss has pulled details from letters and interviews that capture the emotional swells caused by the campus riots and their aftermath. He gives balanced coverage of the student rioters, administrative officials, and the police, showing the vulnerability of the indi ...more
Mar 21, 2016 Jeff rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorite
One of the finest books I have read. This is the first book I've read about Vietnam, and the first book I've read about war. It is more compelling than much fiction I've enjoyed. A Pulitzer Prize winner.

I read upon the recommendation of a friend (Fernando P.) after a conversation two years ago that went like this -- "They're saying that Iraq is the new Vietnam." "Do you have any idea what that really means?" "No... that's why I'm reading this book". And so it began.
John Grant
Apr 17, 2015 John Grant rated it liked it
I gave the book only three
stars. Despite the author having a great way with words, it felt like he bit off more than he could chew with this story. It covers a short period during the Vietnam War and does so from three different perspectives; from the grunts (and brass) in the field, from one of the first major campus protests against the war, and from the administrations point of view. The first was excellent and moving. But I found all the minutiae of the other two angles became very tedious.
Nov 30, 2013 Martin rated it it was ok
This book was a big disappointment. I read it after consuming several tour-de-force historical accounts of the wars in Vietnam, including the new Pulitzer Prize-winning 'Embers of War,' which was superb. So this book, which reads more like a novel about the lives of individuals transformed by the war, fell short. I learned very little of what I am interested in.

However, you may find Maraniss's 'They Marched Into Sunlight' enjoyable. He recounts the events of a couple days in 1967: the ambush of
Sep 16, 2015 Dana rated it liked it
This is a a good book and I am glad I finished it. I am frustrated by the extra details and personal accounts that added so much time and effort on the part of the reader. Goodreads calls it a "seamless narrative", but I was often lost in the stitches...why did we need to learn that Betty Menacher had a summer job in Door County? Just so we could hear her father's humorous quote that "Madison is a cesspool of queers."? On the Madison front, I thought that the stories of Chancellor Sewell, Paul S ...more
John Kaufmann
Apr 23, 2015 John Kaufmann rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
Excellent portrayal of three different groups during the Vietnam War - the men who fought it, protesters back home, and the politicians waging the war. It tells the story from the perspective of several individuals who Maraniss follows.
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David Maraniss is an associate editor at The Washington Post and the author of four critically acclaimed and bestselling books, When Pride Still Mattered: A Life of Vince Lombardi, First in His Class: A Biography of Bill Clinton, They Marched Into Sunlight War and Peace, Vietnam and America October 1967, and Clemente The Passion and Grace of Baseballs Last Hero. He is also the author of The Clinto ...more
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