As with many of Forsyth's books this was an entertaining and very well researched yarn. Great airport reading. Packed with detail, aiding the suspensiAs with many of Forsyth's books this was an entertaining and very well researched yarn. Great airport reading. Packed with detail, aiding the suspension of disbelief I actually learned quite a bit about the first Gulf War though it was sometimes difficult to separate fact from fiction....more
An outstanding piece of work. It follows the trials of the survivors of Dien Bien Phu in captivity by the Viet Minh who were none too delicate in theiAn outstanding piece of work. It follows the trials of the survivors of Dien Bien Phu in captivity by the Viet Minh who were none too delicate in their handling of these courageous men. Many died on the 500 mile death march into Camp One and many subsequently from starvation and illness. Thoroughly schooled in the art of guerrilla warfare in Indochina and embittered by the incompetence of the traditional French military establishment and the amoral fickleness displayed by the revolving door of spineless and witless politicians, they all pass on to Algeria where they are determined to employ the lessons they have learned in a brutal war. The book was written by a fellow veteran and though a novel is loosely styled on many of the principal historical characters of Dien Bien Phu and its Algerian corollary. It has the solidity of experience and the substance of a history told by participants. An absolute classic....more
This short novel traces the return of a veteran from the Korean War. A man from a poverty stricken background who most certainly has been so affectedThis short novel traces the return of a veteran from the Korean War. A man from a poverty stricken background who most certainly has been so affected by his war experience that he suffers from ptsd. The term was unknown when the book was written but it's all there. A ver powerful accounting of how that plays out against a background of deprivation and abuse. A masterful piece of characterization...more
Couldn,t really get into this book. The style of writing, though no doubt something that would delight the classical scholar of Greek made the whole tCouldn,t really get into this book. The style of writing, though no doubt something that would delight the classical scholar of Greek made the whole thing a plod for me. Sorry!...more
I really enjoyed this book. Maybe not great literature but Cornwell is both a great storyteller and a thourough historian. Simple stories, of the "BoyI really enjoyed this book. Maybe not great literature but Cornwell is both a great storyteller and a thourough historian. Simple stories, of the "Boy's Own" variety but backed by meticulous and detailed resarch into military life of the day that adds substance and a suspension of disbelief. A great read any time, especially for an old soldier whi is grateful not to have had to serve under those conditions but with an appreciation of good soldiering, which has never changed in essence....more
This is an outstanding work. It is generally the case that only those who have known combat and the wounds it leaves can write about the experience inThis is an outstanding work. It is generally the case that only those who have known combat and the wounds it leaves can write about the experience in a way that has the ring of truth. It has become possible now for these people to write about the inner demons, the invisible wounds in ways that until recently were not possible. The prevalence of Vietnam veterans suffering from ptsd made the expression of its travails somehow acceptable in ways it had never been; directly, detailed and visceral.
This book is a living link for me, a Vietnam Veteran, with my brothers and sisters who have been scarred by the more recent debacles in Iraq and Afghanistan. It allows me to know the details of their suffering and through what they have suffered to know that we are one.
This novel certainly desreves to become one of the great classics of war literature, to hold a place beside Remarque, Owen, Sassoon, Jones, Marlnates and many others. My thanks to Mr Powers, I understand what it must have taken to write this....more
I knew almost nothing about the Malayan Emergency before I read this book. Barber is a journalist and he writes for the masses so it's an easy read. II knew almost nothing about the Malayan Emergency before I read this book. Barber is a journalist and he writes for the masses so it's an easy read. It is not however an authoritative history. Focused almost totally on the main players on the British side it does give the flavour of the struggle if not the nitty gritty as experienced by troops on the ground. One thing that did come out of the book was the fact that the British prevailed largely because of leadership, notwithstanding the particular nature of the insurgency and its context. The key people who eventually took control were all outstanding leaders and most had had substantial experience with guerrilla warfare against thew Japanese either on the very ground in Malaya or in Burma. They understood the playbook.
The Americans were never to have such leadership. In the context of the guerrilla war in Indochina, Harkins, Abrams and Westmoreland were all generals steeped in the doctrine of conventional war in a European context. They never rose to the challenge. The other limiting factor for the Americans was their overbearing arrogance in the belief that they were unbeatable, despite Korea and that no one had anything to teach them. Even though there were soldiers who worked it all out very early in the piece, people like John Paul Vann. There were numerous examples of the right way to proceed all over the country. These were all ignored because of petty power plays and an inertia to change the perceived wisdom upon which the American forces were based.
The Vietnamese General Giap had them summed up even before they appeared in force as lacking the substance for a long hard drawn out fight and the understanding of how the war worked. despite their defeat he regarded the French as a worthier foe.
Had the Americans had people such as the Brits who ran the resistance to Communism in Malaya there is every probability that they may have prevailed well before the debacle of Tet 1968 when they woin the battle but lost the war. ...more
David Hackworth's name came to my attention as on of those middle ranking officers (Co John Paul Vann another) who had figured out that the Vietnam WaDavid Hackworth's name came to my attention as on of those middle ranking officers (Co John Paul Vann another) who had figured out that the Vietnam War was a debacle before anyone else and who were prepared to make their views known. they were all combat soldiers with plenty of filed experience in Vietnam and elsewhere, they knew what they were talking about but the vested interests in the military, politics and the military industrial complex wanted not a bar of it, so all of them torpedoed their won careers by speaking up.
This book is about other episodes, more recent than Vietnam and Hackworth paints a picture of a poorly supplied, badly led, ill prepared US military and he should know. His assessment does not inspire confidence particularly since I and any soldier who has served in Combat has seen evidence of the same shit. If his assessment is accurate then when the Chinese are ready then we are screwed because none of his descriptions will apply to them, you can bet on that much.
My main complaint about the book is that Hackworth comes across as being just a bit too full of himself....more