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Blackjack 33: with Special Forces in the Viet Cong Forbidden Zone [Mass Market Paperback]

James Donahue
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
RRP: £7.99
Price: £6.56 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over £10. Details
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Book Description

1 Aug 1999
“You have to react instinctively. In this game there’s no second place, only the quick and the dead.”
In Vietnam, Mobile Guerrilla Force conducted unconventional operations against the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese Army. Armed with silencer-equipped MK-II British Sten guns, M-16s, M-79s, and M-60 machine guns, the men of the Mobile Guerrilla Force operated in the steamy, triple-canopy jungle owned by the NVA and VC, destroying base camps, ambushing patrols, and gathering the intelligence that General Westmoreland desperately needed.
In 1967, James Donahue was a Special Forces medic and assistant platoon leader assigned to the Mobile Guerrilla Force and their fiercely anti-Communist Cambodian freedom fighters. Their mission: to locate the 271st Main Force Viet Cong Regiment so they could be engaged and destroyed by the 1st Infantry Division.
Now, with the brutal, unflinching honesty only an eye witness could possess, Donahue relives the adrenaline rush of firefights, air strikes, human wave attacks, ambushes, and attacks on enemy base camps. Following the operation the surviving Special Forces members of the Mobile Guerrilla Force were decorated by Major General John Hay, Commanding General, 1st Infantry Division.

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Frequently Bought Together

Blackjack 33: with Special Forces in the Viet Cong Forbidden Zone + Blackjack 34 + Sog: The Secret Wars of America's Commandos in Vietnam
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Product details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine; Reprint edition (1 Aug 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0804117640
  • ISBN-13: 978-0804117647
  • Product Dimensions: 17.9 x 10.6 x 2.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 194,732 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
33 of 34 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great story of Special Forces 17 Jan 2001
Format:Mass Market Paperback
In Blackjack 33 James Donahue details his experiences of the Blackjack 33 mission.
Donahue was part of Special Forces, an elite unit in the US Army who worked with native Cambodians against the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese Army. Donahue, a medic, informs us of the entire mission, including the parts where he himself was not involved. But it is in writing about the parts he was involved in where he kindles the most interest.
Donahue writes well, and after the initial slowish start the book races on. He skillfully builds up his relationships with his team (both US and Cambodian) until the reader has a good idea of the people involved. Donahue leaves no stone unturned - he details his actions as a medic just as well as his actions of a soldier. He tells tales of mines, firefights in the jungle and the Cambodian way of life.
This is a great book - one possibly more for the Vietnam book veteran than the novice, but good all the same. It has a great epilogue that tells you what happened to some of the people in the book afterwards, adding a good final touch to a good story.
Four, well-earned stars. JB
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant 19 Oct 2004
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback|Verified Purchase
This, and its companion Blackjack 34, are certainly among the best war books ever written from the soldier's point of view. He writes with humour, compassion, and intelligence, really getting to the core of that bond which forms between men at war.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Among the best in its class 17 July 2007
By Nigel Collier VINE VOICE
Format:Mass Market Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is the first of Donahue's books that I've read, but not the first he's written, and that shows. The book reminded me a little of 'SOG' by John Plaster in its subject matter and quality: very evocative and highly impressive accounts of US special forces leading indigenous patrols in enemy territory within Vietnam and beyond its borders. The book 'SOG' outlined MACV-SOG's potted history and then described a number of specific accounts of recon and larger hatchet force operations throughout the entire Vietnam war. Blackjack 33 concentrates on a single 14-day long operation with the Mobile Guerilla Force into the Viet Cong 'Forbidden Zone' - an area just east of Highway 1A between Phuoc-Vinh and Dong-Xoai. Because of this difference in scope, and Donahue's very accomplished writing style, Blackjack 33 is in some ways even better than 'SOG', which itself is a book that stands way out in front of the plethora of similar accounts I've read (and I've read a few!).

Similar to SOG's hatchet forces, the Mobile Guerilla Force was, I think, a company sized operation designed to take the fight into the enemy's 'secret zones' and to locate base camps and concentrations of units or materiel and to wreak havoc and sew doubt among them. They basically inserted into the enemy's back yard and patrolled for a fortnight, fighting dozens of engagements, raiding enemy strongholds, bringing to bear the 'great equaliser' of US air power and then making themselves scarce before they could be fixed and overrun by the numerically superior main force NVA or local VC. The 'mobile' in their name was very much the key to their survival.

So far so typical of many other similar books on the market you might be thinking.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Format:Mass Market Paperback|Verified Purchase
This account is a fantastic insight into the aspect which is little known of the Vietnam War.

The incredible account of just one operation carried out by these men and their Cambodian counterparts shows the true grit that was present in the US soldier behind the lines in the war. the action is some of the best described in a book of this type I have ever read, with the reader truly feeling implanted into the battle alongside the author and his comrades.

It is also tinged with sadness at the end as many of the Cambodians were murdered by the Khmer Rouge later on, a sad ending for people who gave so much to a war that was not their own.

I think this is a very special book accounting a great and patriotic side to the US war in Vietnam which has been largely overlooked after the conflict.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Good Read 12 Sep 2006
Format:Mass Market Paperback|Verified Purchase
A Good Read. For me this means a well written Vietnam Experience story. Easy to get through, nicely atmospheric and enjoyable.

The author doesn't try to get into too much fine detail nor doies he over extend the descriptions.

This isn't a book I'd rave endlessly about but it was a book I felt was value for money, and passed the time on a couple of flights in a pleasant manner.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Horribly real 19 Sep 2012
By The Com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
the narrative is incredibly detailed almost step by step and minute by minute but this focus on the minutiae of what it was like to serve on what must have seemed like an endless patrol is what makes the book horribly tense and utterly beliveable. There is a degree of repetitiveness in the descriptive passages ( I guess you can only describe bamboo so many times) but this does not detract from a compelling story. The spirit and heroism of the indigenous Cambodian troops is captured especially well. Personally, I shall be reading anything else I can find by Donahue.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Book 6 Mar 2008
By D. Hart
Format:Mass Market Paperback|Verified Purchase
Donahue has writen an excellent account of his time with a joint American/Cambodian special forces unit, engaged in seeking out and engaging Viet Cong units in an area dominated by the enemy and called 'he Forbidden Zone'.

The author's style is gripping once it gets going and his admiration, respect and affection for his Cambodian fellow soldiers is a million miles away from the stereo-typical image of American forces fighting in Viet Nam.

His description of tactics and the results of contacts with the enemy are as engrossing as they are detailed.

A very good book.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars blackjack-33
Wow it's vividness no holds barred approach account of men women in war excellent
Published 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 2 months ago by Christopher Jones
3.0 out of 5 stars but gives you an idea of just how horrible it must have been to be...
gritty, no story as such, much detail in heads being blown apart and limbs flying around the place, but gives you an idea of just how horrible it must have been to be there on the... Read more
Published 2 months ago by brightontrader
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
as described quick delivery
Published 2 months ago by Iain Brown
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Very good
Published 3 months ago by Martyn Davies
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Booj
I thought this was an excellent book; well written and wonderfully evocative.It really highlights the skill and drive of these exceptional men and the amazing intensity of these... Read more
Published 4 months ago by Noel Hanchard
5.0 out of 5 stars A great read.
I love books on the Vietnam war & this one did not disappoint. Very well written,I loved it hooked from start to finish well worth a look if you like behind the lines covert... Read more
Published 4 months ago by Dave
5.0 out of 5 stars Blackjack 33
Blackjack 33 is a fantastic book about the American War in Vietnam. It was a cruel situation but it proves that these professionals can also have an eye for the human aspects of... Read more
Published 5 months ago by Devleeschouwer Guy
2.0 out of 5 stars Boring book
I found this book a very boring tale, as an ex soldier who served in a similar force in the British army I thought it very disappointing I would not purchase a book about this... Read more
Published 8 months ago by Doug Carhart.
4.0 out of 5 stars A good read
Really enjoyed this book. It was exciting, informative and felt very genuine, and not as though events had been exaggerated. Read more
Published 11 months ago by Simon Mussell
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