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SOG: Secret Wars of America's Commandos in Vietnam
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SOG: Secret Wars of America's Commandos in Vietnam

4.22  ·  Rating Details ·  775 Ratings  ·  34 Reviews
Major John L. Plaster, a three-tour veteran of Vietnam tells the story of the most highly classified United States covert operatives to serve in the war: The Studies and Observations Group, code-named SOG. Comprised of volunteers from such elite military units as the Army?s Green Berets, the USAF Air Commandos, and Navy SEALs, SOG agents answered directly to the Pentagon?s ...more
Paperback, 400 pages
Published July 1st 1998 by NAL (first published January 1997)
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Michael Burnam-Fink
Writing about the classified and the denied is always hard. Plaster does his best to produce a systemic account of SOG, the elite crossboarder recon force in the Vietnam War, but at the end of the day, he is a soldier, not a historian. When this book sticks to what Plaster knows, his own war stories and those of his friends, it is very good. When it moves to a different subject, the politics of the war or the broader military impact of SOG, it loses touch.

SOG was composed of courageous men and
Ben Paris
Jan 02, 2016 Ben Paris rated it really liked it
Modern day warriors' stories and lives that must be heard. Never Forget.
Bradley West
Jun 15, 2016 Bradley West rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
For fans of the Vietnam War literature, there's usually a trade-off between the quality of prose and perspective (e.g. Herr, Caputo, Sheehan) and the amount of true life tales being told. A war reporter accompanying troops in the field sees much, but nothing compared to what Plaster has assembled from his interviews with US Special Forces veterans. So what "SOG" may lack in helicopter insights, it more than makes up for in edge-of-your-seat excitement. There are at least a half dozen stories of ...more
Sam Yang
Feb 10, 2012 Sam Yang rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A story of the Vietnam war that is rarely heard of, why because it was almost only the SOG that defended the Ho Chi Minh trail from incoming North Vietnamese soldiers. John Plaster or "The Plasticman" fought on the ground and used the things around him, the SOG men all learned from each other and if one man learned something he would make sure all of the men learned, for example John would tell men to use phosphorus grenades to signal aircraft instead of smoke since phosphorus rises through the ...more
Dec 20, 2008 Cary rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is bitchin! If you like adventure and amazing tales of heroizm full of hairbreath escapes and get down fire fights. This is the book for you. Behind enemy lines in Laos and then Cambobia during the Vietnam War. Studies and Observation Group was tasked with finding out what the enemy was doing along the Ho Chi Min Trail and where his major units were located in these suposedly neutral countries. Searching out hidden enemy enclaves small teams of American Speaical Foreces consisting of ...more
Chris Boette
Mar 10, 2011 Chris Boette rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very much enjoyed this book, which may be the first thing I have ever agreed with Kissinger about. The storytelling was engaging and the history relayed clearly. I was impressed with the structure of the book -- each chapter covered a different aspect of SOG missions & capabilities and moved forward in time in a way that did not conflict with the timelines in the other chapters. The net effect was a thorough picture of the challenges and successes SOG faced over the war. The only reason that ...more
Mar 10, 2009 Tim rated it it was amazing
Badass. Certainly not for everyone, but if you're interested in US Special Operations in Vietnam, this book is essential. There's enough humor in the stories of the crazy, off the handle stunts these guys would pull to keep it entertaining, and enough mission-specific information to keep it fairly informative. I actually expected it to be pretty dark, but this book is mostly just people telling their amazing stories about doing a unique job and being in unique situations (to say the least). Ther ...more
Mar 28, 2013 John rated it really liked it
A good account of an often undiscussed part of the Vietnam war. Plaster is not the best of writers but he's good enough and his style is clear. Reading about the missions is a bit like eating popcorn. There is a consistent stream of tales of small unit derringer-do. If you are not a war buff, this could prove a hard slog. However, if one sticks with it, it is hard not to be impressed with what a tiny group of men achieved from '65 to '72. The men of SOG fought against incredible odds and often c ...more
Feb 21, 2011 James rated it it was amazing
If you really enjoy Vietnam and/or Special Forces History, this is a must read. This book is what whet my interest in the conflict and I have been trying to learn more about the war as a whole since. So many of the other books I have read since reading SOG have made more sense to me because of the knowledge I garnered from this single book. I do not read many books more than once but I will pick this up every two or three years and learn something new that I missed.
May 11, 2013 Dean rated it really liked it
Filled with highly detailed stories of an elite warrior class, this book puts you in the middle of firefights that take your breath away. Because of its secret missions behind enemy lines, no one knew that it was the most highly decorated unit of the war. Also, the most decorated soldier in the war was a member. If you want to read about heroic action, just turn to any page and start reading about their nearly impossible tasks and truly unbelievable accomplishments.
Sep 23, 2012 Harry rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

Must reading for everyone in order to understand the role of special forces from their very inception, and their willingness to place their lives on the line over and over against overwhelming odds. The book was recommended to me by a Green Beret. He represented it as the truth about what really happened in Vietnam which it was. But it also represents the beginnings of what we now see in both Special Forces Army and Navy Seals. To be informed, read this book.
Hans S.
Mar 18, 2015 Hans S. rated it really liked it
The author John Plaster was in the unit, MACV-SOG, that this book is about. That gives him a credibility that most military historians don't have. That alone makes this book interesting.

There is very little from the North Vietnamese perspective. Even so this is a very interesting read that has that very gripping quality that this type of 'written by someone who was actually there' - type books sometimes have.
Mar 30, 2008 Ben rated it really liked it
This book contains events that happened in Vietnam and Cambodia . Its about special forces training and maintaining local guerrila forces and thier techniques that they used. It goes from a week long patrol to a month long patrol. It describes contact with the enemy, land survival, an how different branches of service react to each other when in time of need. I thought that this book was a good read because the authors describe vivid events with both the VC and the NVA.
Scott Bown
Sep 15, 2012 Scott Bown rated it liked it
A very fascinating book that looks at a little known side of the Vietnam War. I enjoyed reading about the secret operations that took place in Laos and along the Ho-Chi-Mihn trail which had an important impact on the War but are still largely unknown to the public. The book centers mostly on the individual tales of the soldiers in SOG, but it is still an interesting book about the Vietnam War that I would recommend to any fans of military history.
Apr 14, 2011 Kathy rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Brian (son)
Recommended to Kathy by: Bob
This documentary type non-fiction account of the overt and covert missions of the SOG units in Vietnam and Laos would not have interested me a year ago. But since I traveled to Vietnam with Bob to visit the war sites on which he served, I had GREAT interest in this book. Amazing bravery and valor displayed by the SOG teams. There are some gruesome scenes described, so be aware. GREAT read!
Mar 14, 2012 Troy rated it it was amazing
If you read no other book about what American servicemen are truly capable of, read this one. These were truly the best of the very best! Imagine volunteering to fight knowing the odds were that you would not survive a complete tour. Unbelievable stories!

(I have only read this book 7 times in the past 15 years.)
Yong Lee
Jun 19, 2016 Yong Lee rated it really liked it
A great military history of a well known but little understood role of the Special Operations Group in Vietnam. Green Berets are well known in popular culture but their first trial by fire in Southeast Asia is a true story that even Johnny Rambo could not invent.
May 13, 2010 Vernon rated it liked it
A solid read for those interested MAC-V/SOG operations during the war. After reading this book I cannot see a POW-MIA flag flying without thinking of these largely unsung heroes. Thank you gentleman for your service and heroism.
Dil Drisco
Apr 29, 2016 Dil Drisco rated it did not like it
The accounts in this book are disputed in multiple Special Forces memoirs from the same period. The only reason this cannot be officially be debunked is because the military archives burnt down a short time after the war. Should be reclassified as historical fiction.
Aug 20, 2012 Tjgaul rated it really liked it
A truly incredible collection of true stories from Vietnam. This book covers the organizational structure of the SOG group within the military command as well as numerous missions launched from multiple FOBs. An very good account of operations. tactics and equipment. Very riveting.
Dec 17, 2010 Steven added it
These guy were amazing! Great story of what went on behind enemy lines when there were no "lines". Good book.
Aug 09, 2012 David rated it it was amazing
Clear, Detailed and a really wonderful read. You won't believe these stories by men who were there. This book was recommended to me by a S.O.G. man in my town.
Jul 16, 2012 Eric added it
Interesting history of America's Covert Commando operations in Laos and Vietnam. Makes one wonder what is going on in the Middle East.
Ronald Dahle
May 09, 2012 Ronald Dahle rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Another winner by Plaster. Chronicling the adventurers of Americas unsung heroes in Vietnam. You can't sing about someone whosw existance is denied.
Damon Hall
Jan 16, 2017 Damon Hall rated it really liked it
Good book, about a part of the Vietnam War that I had heard about but never looked at in depth. Well written, and interesting, needed a little editing but not horrible. Enjoyable read.
Matt rated it really liked it
Jun 20, 2013
Garry Wyatt
Garry Wyatt rated it liked it
Aug 21, 2016
Matthew George
Matthew George rated it really liked it
Jul 22, 2013
Chris Riley
Chris Riley rated it liked it
Nov 29, 2016
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Tony Mayo rated it liked it
Oct 21, 2014
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