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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Cat from Hue
It is difficult to underestimate the importance of John Laurence’s memoirs of the Vietnam War; a conflict of which Britain’s consciousness is almost entirely based on a series of films which depicted, in visceral and intense fashion, the madness which is uniquely encapsulated in Coppola’s Apocalypse Now. Where these films fail, and where The Cat from Hue...
Published on 5 Nov. 2002 by Ed Attwood

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2 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Yawn
Too long - too elaborate. I really would have enjoyed it had it been a tenth of the size as I didn't find the story telling tight enough and it rambled far too much.
Published on 17 May 2011 by JESHUD


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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Cat from Hue, 5 Nov. 2002
It is difficult to underestimate the importance of John Laurence’s memoirs of the Vietnam War; a conflict of which Britain’s consciousness is almost entirely based on a series of films which depicted, in visceral and intense fashion, the madness which is uniquely encapsulated in Coppola’s Apocalypse Now. Where these films fail, and where The Cat from Hue succeeds, is the ability to link the war in Vietnam with the problems that America faces with its foreign policy today. From a political point of view, we have still to discover whether the US has learnt the lessons of Vietnam, and this book is a timely reminder of both the scale of the operations that took place in South-East Asia, and the inevitable pitfalls that such actions can provoke. When I first bought The Cat from Hue, I was expecting a litany of skirmishes, ambushes, blood and rotor blades, and was slightly sceptical, therefore, at the length of the book. Laurence does not fail to provide these details, but it is the moments in between in which he is at his descriptive best: during a firefight in the jungle, a solar eclipse takes place which causes all action to cease - Laurence paints a picture of the stillness which is as powerful as his depiction of the war itself. His various forays in the field are neatly interspersed with a journalist’s viewpoint on the war: we, like Laurence, are drawn into a maelstrom as American policy loses its way. The addition of the eponymous cat, who, along with Laurence’s trips to ‘Frankie’s House’, provide a comic, yet touching slant to his life at the front line, which balances the author’s memoirs beautifully.
I loved The Cat From Hue – it provided a refreshing and beguilingly honest portrayal of Vietnam, which matched Bao Ninh’s novel, The Sorrow of War. I cannot recommend it highly enough.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Cat From Hue, 26 July 2003
This review is from: The Cat from Hue: A Vietnam War Story (Paperback)
This was the first book I ever read on the Vietnam conflict and it remains the best. John Laurence drags you into the immediacy of the conflict with a detailed account of his experiences during the battle for Hue. The contrast of the shellshocked soliders and the humour of the cat he adopts (hence the title) strains traditional narrative yet provides the reader with a real insight into the brutality and yet mundanity of war.
The book resumes with Laurence going back to his arrival in Vietnam as a naive young journalist working to establish television as the new medium for reporting. In detailed accounts he introduces his colleagues at "Frankies House" and firmly establishes the atmosphere of the mid 1960's-drink, drugs, fear and courage in the face of a never ending conflict. There is no happy ending for some of these colleagues and having got to know them we are made to feel their loss in a way rarely seen in historical works.
History books have a habit of being dry and overly factual but not so here. Laurence does not ignore history but uses it as a backdrop to the human war he took part in. This is a long book but this should not disuade readers, if anything I was left wanting to read more. The effect on the writer, the people he met, the places he went and saw, all are made human. It would have been impossible in one book to fully finish all the stories he began, yet the book left me feeling that I had been as close to the conflict as someone not born when it ended ever could be.
As a history of the conflict from a human viewpoint, I would recommend this book highly. It ranks with "A Bright Shining Lie" and the "the Best and the Brightest" as a book that tells the real story of Vietnam. Unlike those works however, this one makes you feel close to having been there.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Best Book on Vietnam, 6 Feb. 2004
This review is from: The Cat from Hue: A Vietnam War Story (Paperback)
Over the years I have read many books about Vietnam and the "American War" but this must rate as the best.
This amazing book has an intimacy and immediacy that is even more impressive given that it was some 30 years in the writing.
A thick documentry book that reads like a "page turning" novel.
Some of the descriptions of the American troops behaviour makes,to me,previously seemingly bizarre and unbelievable scences from such films as "Platoon" and "Apocalypse Now " not so far fetched after all.
A great book and a great read.
A good companion read is Tim Page's "Derailed in Uncle Ho's Victory Garden"
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Engrossing start to finish., 23 Jun. 2011
By 
T.manny "T." (Birmingham, UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Cat from Hue: A Vietnam War Story (Paperback)
I was amazed at the size of the book when it came having not really read the description properly. This rivals Herrs 'Dispatches' in the storytelling about the ever changing nature of the conflict. I found myself really liking the author for his self-effacing nature and balanced accounts of what he witnessed in his time in Vietnam.
Well worth investing the time to read it if you have a genuine interest in the conflict and like a good yarn.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars the most accessable vietnam experiance by a noncombatant, 28 Jan. 2004
By 
Mr. Pj Williams (cardiff uk) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
I bought this book on the off chance of it being anygood. thnk god i did. over the years i have read quite a few biographies of soldiers, civilians and politicians covering the vietnam period. cat frm hue has to be one of the all time greats. it gave me an insight into the war from a perspective of someone who can go into combat and escape it a couple of hours later. his was more short sharp shocks one after another, instead of the continuous time in the line like the soldiers had to. and yet he still suffered the same PTSD problems when away from the fighting.

on a lighter note the humour in this book is both laugh out loud ( which is odd for a book of this nature) and also heart warming in a situation where there is litle to smile about. he also writes in a very humanitarian style which i always find missing in alot of non fiction authors. all in all by the end of the bok you feel you know jack like a family member and you feel upset when he loses a friend because you feel they are your friend too.

all in all out of the hundreds of books i have read over the years i feel jack will stay with me as one of the best for the rest of my life.

thankyou jack for a great experiance!

little side note I am writing 5 years after I left this review. if you can get your hands on walter kronkites dvd box set on vietnam you will see alot of Laurences Tv work for CBS in it and it will give new life to the story as you will see what he is talking about in the book.

still one of the best books I have ever read 5 years later
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The masterpiece of the blood and guts of war., 25 May 2002
By 
A brilliant read from start to finish, I couldn't put the book down. From the start it just grips ahold of you and won't let you go, you have to carry on reading it to see want other amazing "Daily Miracles" happen to Laurence.
Having served in H.M Forces and always been a keen reader of the majority of "popular" war stories, it is amazing how journalists portray war from the civilians point of view and not always from just the soldiers first hand account.
Laurence tells the story of his own tavels around Vietnam, with camera and sound men in tow to the hottest spots at the time. Excellant reporting of the soldiers and environments, and the battlefield highs and lows.
He also recalls how the journalists prepared themselves, and how they relaxed!!! "Frankies House" sounds like it was the biggest party venue in Vietnam.
He rates very highly all the journalists that started the ball rolling with the inspiring techniques to report the amazing media coverage of this unique war. David Halberstam and Neil Sheehan (A Bright Shining Lie, highly recommended) were hard role models to follow.
The only down side of the book was at the end. I felt it didn't quite do enough to tell me of what had happened to his friends and people associated with the story. What happened to Page and Flynn? What did C Company get up to after the block on his reporting documentary? I''ll be searching to find any footage of their travels.
I look forward to reading more from John Laurence.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars very interesting, 16 Aug. 2012
phew ,well written,though the cat interest was a bit lost on me,but a sweeping book,from fighting horror to peace niks in battle,the dynamics of the book are multilayered,illuminating,also an intriguing view into war journalism
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read, 1 July 2011
This review is from: The Cat from Hue: A Vietnam War Story (Paperback)
If like me you like your Vietnam war history then this is a must read, equal if not better than Neil Sheehans 'A bright shining lie'

Unbiased with a different perspective of the conflict and brilliantly written.
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5.0 out of 5 stars It's not perfect - what is, 11 Aug. 2014
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How this book escaped me for so long, I have no idea. Laurence writes well, and I really did find it hard to put down. The fact that he was there - in the thick of things, even though a non-combatant - makes his descriptions not just accurate but enthralling.
It's not perfect - what is? The stuff about the cat is pretty thin: I can almost sense an editor suggesting he comes up with some sort of theme that runs through and holds it together.
It didn't need it though. I would much rather had had more of his thoughts now he "is an old man".
So - you "have" to read this one!
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Riveting Read, 13 Feb. 2003
Having read many books on the Vietnam war, i came across the Cat from Hue and was intrigued by the title it being a Vietnam War book. After starting its a hard book to put down given that it is so well written and thoroughly engrossing. I would recommend this book to anyone with an interest in the Vietnam War who would like to read about a journalists hair raising experience in Vietnam. Excellent!!
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The Cat from Hue: A Vietnam War Story
The Cat from Hue: A Vietnam War Story by John Laurence (Paperback - 27 Nov. 2002)
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