Top positive review
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SOG. Utterly compelling, gripping and inspiring
on 16 July 2003
Studies & Observations Group. Seldom has a military unit's title so inadequately described what they actually did. Which was, of course, the point.
I have read many books on the subject of Special Forces & covert ops in Vietnam. This is, without doubt, the best. Still utterly compelling and inspiring, even now on the third read.
What you have to keep reminding yourself, when reading this book, is that it is a true account of a secret war. So brave, heroic, selfless & daring were the deeds carried out by the men of SOG, it is easy to forget that they were real events that happened to real people in real danger.
It's a gripping account of the activities of men, who's job it was to play the most dangerous game of `cat & mouse' imaginable. SOG men volunteered to go into hostile territory in small teams (typically 6 to 8 men), surrounded by thousands of enemy soldiers and bring back vital intelligence which was almost certainly responsible for saving many thousands of American lives. Sometime they did this completely undetected, all too often they had to run and fight for their lives to escape a vastly numerically superior foe intent on their destruction.
John Plaster recounts many recon missions and the battle for survival SOG men faced each time they waged their silent war against the VC and NVA. You can almost feel the fear and adrenaline generated from such dangerous work. Almost. No book could ever truly give you a full understanding of how it felt to do what SOG did, but this book gets closer than any other I've read.
At times this book also made me angry. All too often, deeds of heroism and bravery went unrecognized, due partly to the secret nature of what SOG did but sometimes due to the incompetence of the military. Although several SOG men received The Congressional Medal of Honor during the Vietnam War, it is clear many more should have. That said, the men of SOG didn't fight for medals or for some ideological hatred of communism. They fought and died for each other, their fellow soldiers, their "brothers". The greatest accolade for a SOG man wasn't a medal, (Purple Hearts were often not even requested) it was to be considered to be "good in the woods" by their peers.
During The Vietnam War, SOG suffered a casualty rate of over 100% (every man wounded at least once). The unit had a kill ratio of 150:1 (150 enemy dead for each SOG operator killed). After reading this book you'll understand why they were so effective and you'll be amazed that their casualty rate wasn't higher.