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We Were Soldiers Once...And Young: The Battle That Changed the War in Vietnam [Paperback]

Harold G Moore , Joseph L. Galloway
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (56 customer reviews)
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Book Description

1 Mar 2002
In November 1965, 450 men of the 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry, under the command of Lt.Col. Hal Moore, were dropped by helicopter into a small clearing in the Ia Drang Valley. They were immediately surrounded by 2,000 North Vietnamese soldiers. Three days later, only two and a half miles away, a sister battalion was chopped to pieces. Together, these actions at the landing zones X-Ray and Albany constituted one of the most savage and significant battles of the Vietnam War. How these men persevered - sacrificed themselves for their comrades and never gave up - makes a vivid portrait of war at its most inspiring and devastating. General Moore and Joseph Galloway, the only journalist on the ground throughout the fighting, have interviewed hundreds of men who fought there, including the North Vietnamese commanders. This devastating account rises above the specific ordeal it chronicles to present a picture of men facing the ultimate challenge, dealing with it in ways they would have found unimaginable only a few hours earlier. It reveals to us, as rarely before, man's most heroic and horrendous endeavour.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 528 pages
  • Publisher: Corgi; New Ed edition (1 Mar 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0552150266
  • ISBN-13: 978-0552150262
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (56 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 17,786 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"Between experiencing combat and reading about it lies a vast chasm. This book makes you almost smell it" (Wall Street Journal)

"A stunning achievement... I read it and thought of The Red Badge of Courage, the highest compliment I can think of" (David Halberstam)

"The best account of infantry combat I have ever read, and the most significant book to come out of the Vietnam War" (Colonel David Hackworth)

"There are stories here that freeze the blood... The men who fought at Ia Drang could have no finer memorial" (The New York Times Book Review)

"If you want to know what is was like to go to Vietnam as a young American... and find yourself caught in ferocious, remorseless combat with an enemy as courageous and idealistic as you were, then you must read this book. Moore and Galloway have captured the terror and exhilaration, the comradeship and self-sacrifice, the brutality and compassion that are the dark heart of war" (The Times)

Book Description

The defining moment of the Vietnam war when the American dream of a quick victory died - hard.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
47 of 48 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars We were soldiers once and young 19 Jun 2002
I first read this book about 8 years ago.
Put simply, if there is a finer book on the horrors of the Vietnam war then I have yet to read it.
Hal Moore decribes in brutal frankness the reception that awaits them when they are sent to Vietnam at the start of the war. His narrative is insightful and at points very poignant if not downright painful to read.
This book describes a time when America was just waking up to the realities of the Vietnam war through a group of men who had no way of knowing the ferocity of the reception they would recieve in the La Drang valley or the barbarity of hand to hand combat with an enemy that was prepared to go to any lengths in the defence of it's country.
This is a must have for anybody with an interest in that conflict or for that matter in that particular decade. It decribes a battalion of soldiers who although highly trained were not prepared for what they would encounter but dealt with everything that was thrown at them and managed to survive and come out the other side.
For this reason alone it is a painful but rivetting read.
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Maybe the best book on the subject 11 Mar 2002
By A Customer
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The book is an extraordinary account of one of the first major engagements in the Ia Drang Valley at the start of the Vietnam War. But this is not a book that glorifies war - war is nothing more than the failure of political leadership and about the incredible leadership of soldiers who carry on orders knowing what the outcome maybe. It is a book that glorifies leadership, survival skills and sacrifice. Its heroes understood what they were getting into. They performed their duties courageously against a strong and equally determined enemy. Among the many virtues of the book is also the fact that it teaches us about respect and humility. For sure it is one of the best books ever written on the subject of war.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
Let. General Moore and Joe Galloway have provided an accurate and bloody portrayal of what happened at LZ Z-Ray and LZ Albany in the opening days of the Vietnam war.
In it, you'll discover act of heroism, bravery and courage in the line of fire such as Thomas Metsker who gave his place in the helicopter evacuating the wounded to a more seriously wounded soldier, only to see him die as he placed the injured man on the helicopter. Thomas Metsker is just one of the many men whose tale is told with remarkable clarity by the survivors.
There are poignant moments in the aftermath from the wives and children when they relate what happened to them, when they discovered their loved one would never be coming home and it was heart-warming to read about what happened to the survivors when the story ended.
When you have finished reading the book, go and see the film. It's not as accurate but still good.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
If only once in your life you get the chance to read about a mans true spirit then grab that chance.
This is no how to...book this is about what makes men, men. A wonderful read that shows the same battle from both sides and shows that men no matter what their colour, religion or politics are truely magnificent creatures.
It is no gung-ho tale like some stories that are put about by our SAS or others, this book is about true spirit and all of its failings. Read this and think on its words, for in here lies hope for man.
(PS, I speak from experience as a x soldier who fought in '82)
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35 of 38 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A study on fighting, but not fighting men... 21 Aug 2002
This is a good book if you really want to know – sometimes in quite tedious detail - what exactly went on in LZ X-Ray and LZ Albany, moment by moment, man by man.
If you want character build-up and insightful discourse on the motivations of men in extreme circumstances, look elsewhere.
In the vast majority of cases, it is the actions of the men that are detailed, not motivations or innermost thoughts. Even when the narration is handed over, first person, to the men who survived, we learn little of what made them do the extraordinarily brave things that fill page after page.
An unfortunate failing of this book is Hal Moore’s entirely understandable desire to pay tribute and respect to every man he mentions by name. In a somewhat clinical, militaristic fashion, each serviceman, in addition to his rank, has his middle initial included when first introduced. Also, if, as happens in all to many cases, that serviceman is subsequently killed or wounded, Moore insists upon repeating this gesture along with detailing his hometown and family background.
I suspect this “naming and placing” is an attempt to bring home to the reader the humanity of those who were cut down in their prime - often en masse. Unfortunately, for me, these continual roll calls serve to distract and interrupt from the hugely courageous actions of the men in question, thus diminishing that aspect of the narrative, whilst also, unfortunately, not actually making them any more real for me.
I feel I should somehow apologise for this criticism, because in so many other respects this is an excellent book.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Read for Rescoria following 911 26 Oct 2011
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A friend sent me a veterans report on the 10th anniversary of 911 focusing on the role that Rescoria played in saving all but 6 of 2700 staff under his HSE care - you can see his youthful picture on the front of version of the book carrying the M16. "We were soldiers once" contains a wonderful summary of this [British] leader's influence on the battle and the people around him, but I'll leave you to discover this and give a more general comment.

"Soldiers Once" is a no description barred story of two battles between the USA and North Vietnamese. It somewhat resembles the Illiad in its descriptions of the soldiers, their ages, backgrounds, frequency (and story) of death. I cannot imagine how terrible this must have been for their relatives to read as many of these young men die screaming. It also contains perspectives from all ranks and although it is light on Vietnamese perspectives some of their commanders are included. It is a wonderful insight into a terrible conflict and I recommend it strongly.

Two thoughts. Consider reading chapter 25, "The secretary of the army regrets ..." first. It gives depth to the people that die and as these are readily recognisable throughout the prose by their lack of speaking parts it would make the book that much more poignant for its early inclusion. For myself, I was unable to buy the more modern version of this book that contains shots from the movie on the front page so I reached out for a second hand version that arrived quickly, in good condition and at low cost. I know that it is being too sensitive, but I was just not able to bring into my home such a fine story with a picture of Mel Gibeson on the front.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Better than i expected
I knew this would be a good read but every chapter is better than the previous one,incredibly detailed and full of interesting facts that I had no idea of
Published 25 days ago by bigdar69
5.0 out of 5 stars Hell on Earth
The best book to demonstrate the futility of war I have read. This is the second time I have bought it, the first book I gave to a girl from Saigon. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Ian Robinson
5.0 out of 5 stars Loads of Combat Action
This is a book full of combat action memories and is very well written.

The NVA took heavy casualties from the US forces, but they also inflected heavy casualties in... Read more
Published 2 months ago by David Cotton
5.0 out of 5 stars Knew Nothing
wanted to learn more about the war from an ordinary soldiers view rather than generals and politicians view did exactly that
Published 3 months ago by Lynn Perry
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best.....
A story of courage, total commitment and ultimate futility that should be a lesson for all. So sad, so pointless..... Read more
Published 3 months ago by IanM
2.0 out of 5 stars heroes or murderers?
The account of honour and glory of men and their drastic ends should not be the one of Marines. Killings and tortures are reported as something awful that a soldier MUST do to... Read more
Published 3 months ago by alessandra castellani
4.0 out of 5 stars Great
Having seen the film, based on the book, I just had to read the book. I was not disappointed at all
Published 4 months ago by DavidJ
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable
Hits all the right buttons except that it over details many of the entries on the persons named and becomes repetitous and tedious in this detail. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Amazon Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars the hard facts of war
this book tells it as it was from some one who was there for 12 months of hell.
How as always the brass got it wrong from the start. Read more
Published 4 months ago by David Boxall
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent
Excellent gritty soldier's description of some ferocious battles. Battles which defined the American involvement in Vietnam and in the long run impacted on an entire generation of... Read more
Published 5 months ago by Eddie Smith
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