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In a remote mountain stronghold in 1968, six thousand US Marines awoke one January morning to find themselves surrounded by 20,000 enemy troops. Their only road to the coast was cut, and bad weather and enemy fire threatened their fragile air lifeline. The siege of Khe Sanh-the Vietnam War's epic confrontation-was under way. For seventy-seven days, the Marines and a conting In a remote mountain stronghold in 1968, six thousand US Marines awoke one January morning to find themselves surrounded by 20,000 enemy troops. Their only road to the coast was cut, and bad weather and enemy fire threatened their fragile air lifeline. The siege of Khe Sanh-the Vietnam War's epic confrontation-was under way. For seventy-seven days, the Marines and a contingent of US Army Special Forces endured artillery barrages, sniper fire, ground assaults, and ambushes. Air Force, Marine, and Navy pilots braved perilous flying conditions to deliver supplies, evacuate casualties, and stem the North Vietnamese Army's onslaught. As President Lyndon B. Johnson weighed the use of tactical nuclear weapons, Americans watched the shocking drama unfold on nightly newscasts. Through it all, the bloodied defenders of Khe Sanh held firm and prepared for an Alamo-like last stand. Now, Gregg Jones takes readers into the trenches and bunkers at Khe Sanh to tell the story of this extraordinary moment in American history. Last Stand at Khe Sanh captures the exceptional courage and brotherhood that sustained the American fighting men throughout the ordeal. It brings to life an unforgettable cast of characters-young high school dropouts and rootless rebels in search of John Wayne glory; grizzled Korean War veterans; daredevil pilots; gritty platoon leaders and company commanders; and courageous Navy surgeons who volunteered to serve in combat with the storied Marines. Drawing on in-depth interviews with siege survivors, thousands of pages of archival documents, and scores of oral history accounts, Gregg Jones delivers a poignant and heart-pounding narrative worthy of the heroic defense of Khe Sanh.


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In a remote mountain stronghold in 1968, six thousand US Marines awoke one January morning to find themselves surrounded by 20,000 enemy troops. Their only road to the coast was cut, and bad weather and enemy fire threatened their fragile air lifeline. The siege of Khe Sanh-the Vietnam War's epic confrontation-was under way. For seventy-seven days, the Marines and a conting In a remote mountain stronghold in 1968, six thousand US Marines awoke one January morning to find themselves surrounded by 20,000 enemy troops. Their only road to the coast was cut, and bad weather and enemy fire threatened their fragile air lifeline. The siege of Khe Sanh-the Vietnam War's epic confrontation-was under way. For seventy-seven days, the Marines and a contingent of US Army Special Forces endured artillery barrages, sniper fire, ground assaults, and ambushes. Air Force, Marine, and Navy pilots braved perilous flying conditions to deliver supplies, evacuate casualties, and stem the North Vietnamese Army's onslaught. As President Lyndon B. Johnson weighed the use of tactical nuclear weapons, Americans watched the shocking drama unfold on nightly newscasts. Through it all, the bloodied defenders of Khe Sanh held firm and prepared for an Alamo-like last stand. Now, Gregg Jones takes readers into the trenches and bunkers at Khe Sanh to tell the story of this extraordinary moment in American history. Last Stand at Khe Sanh captures the exceptional courage and brotherhood that sustained the American fighting men throughout the ordeal. It brings to life an unforgettable cast of characters-young high school dropouts and rootless rebels in search of John Wayne glory; grizzled Korean War veterans; daredevil pilots; gritty platoon leaders and company commanders; and courageous Navy surgeons who volunteered to serve in combat with the storied Marines. Drawing on in-depth interviews with siege survivors, thousands of pages of archival documents, and scores of oral history accounts, Gregg Jones delivers a poignant and heart-pounding narrative worthy of the heroic defense of Khe Sanh.

30 review for Last Stand at Khe Sanh: The U.S. Marines' Finest Hour in Vietnam

  1. 5 out of 5

    Tony

    This is not about Should we have been there. In my own mind, I answered that question a long time ago. Gregg Jones answers it too, but sub silentio, writing repeatedly that it doesn’t matter. Instead, this a book about mostly young men, Marines and Corpsmen, chaplains and even a conscientious objector, who defended a series of hills around Khe Sanh in Vietnam in the Winter of 1968 with enormous sacrifice and bravery, because other men deemed Khe Sanh important enough that these men should die fo This is not about Should we have been there. In my own mind, I answered that question a long time ago. Gregg Jones answers it too, but sub silentio, writing repeatedly that it doesn’t matter. Instead, this a book about mostly young men, Marines and Corpsmen, chaplains and even a conscientious objector, who defended a series of hills around Khe Sanh in Vietnam in the Winter of 1968 with enormous sacrifice and bravery, because other men deemed Khe Sanh important enough that these men should die for it. For months they fought and died. Then it was over. Both sides claimed victory at Khe Sanh, but it was the North Vietnamese who fled. And then the order came down: abandon the hills. Just like that. Dennis Mannion, who was there, thought, “We never gave back Tarawa or Iwo Jima.” So now you know whether you should read this or not. It has a limited audience; namely, those of us who enjoy reading about brave men in war. And, okay, this might be an appropriate time to bring up a pedantic point, a reader’s advisory I learned while reading this. Some of the stories were so gripping, I’d go rushing off to find Marines who work with me to tell them what I’d read. When retelling the story of a combat surgeon who removes a pipe-looking fuse assembly (essentially a live bomb) from the gut of a wounded Marine, don’t call the wounded Marine a soldier. Just don’t. You'll be corrected. There are stories of the battle and a much-appreciated (by me) epilogue about what’s become of the survivors. There are pictures of the battle, and pictures of the men at reunions. So you can read about Corpsman John Cicala crawling, grievously wounded, to safety, hoping he makes it; and then see his smiling face fifty years later, and you can see he’s okay. The author quotes from a movie about Khe Sanh, a sentence that reads like a two-line poem: Without a witness, They just disappear. Now they can’t disappear. Ken Warner, Dr. Edward Feldman, Dr. James Finnegan, Steve Weise, William Dabney, Steve Weise, Ken Pipes, David Powell, Ken Korkow, Don Shanley, Jonathon Nathaniel Spicer. Some are names in Granite. Some are witnesses. In case you didn't hear it when you came home, if you came home: Thank you.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Gerry

    Certainly one of the best books I read in 2017 and would list this in my personal top 3 for the year and top 5 of all books I have read on the subject of war. I have taken this book on as a personal trilogy to be combined with my next two books: In Reflection by Robert S. McNamara, and Dereliction of Duty by H.R. McMaster. This book felt more like a continuation to Dr. Bernard B. Fall’s work of “Street Without Joy” and “Hell In A Very Small Place: The Battle for Dien Bien Phu.” The tragedy that l Certainly one of the best books I read in 2017 and would list this in my personal top 3 for the year and top 5 of all books I have read on the subject of war. I have taken this book on as a personal trilogy to be combined with my next two books: In Reflection by Robert S. McNamara, and Dereliction of Duty by H.R. McMaster. This book felt more like a continuation to Dr. Bernard B. Fall’s work of “Street Without Joy” and “Hell In A Very Small Place: The Battle for Dien Bien Phu.” The tragedy that lay within these pages are many, the valor recorded is above reproach, and the ability of the human being to find a way to survive is gut wrenching. In good conscience, I could not just dive into “In Reflection” as I believed it prudent first to read of something related to the Tet Offensive era which is the era to which SecDef McNamara departed his position from the Pentagon on 29 February 1968. This book is simply a book for the ages – there were “good” wars, and there have been avoidable wars – to the Betrayed Generation of Americans who served with dignity and honor – I as a Marine welcome you home now and always for the suffering you endured. Mr. Gregg Jones fully researched this work and deserves all the credit that can be provided in discussing the evolution of the Vietnam War in brief, the battle as it began, and the Tet Offensive to which it was linked. To my Gunnery Sergeant who served in Khe Sanh and to the memory of our Persian Gulf War experience – this book I read on your behalf. Semper Fidelis

  3. 4 out of 5

    Karl Jorgenson

    The battle for Khe Sanh combat base near the DMZ went on for three months in 1968, overlapping the Tet offensive in South Vietnamese cities. Hundreds of marines were killed and thousands wounded as the NVA occupied the surrounding territory and denied road access to the base and nearby outposts. In this book, Jones does an expert job of collating the individual marines' stories, moving in chronological order through the different battles, with each marine-participant allocated a paragraph or two. The battle for Khe Sanh combat base near the DMZ went on for three months in 1968, overlapping the Tet offensive in South Vietnamese cities. Hundreds of marines were killed and thousands wounded as the NVA occupied the surrounding territory and denied road access to the base and nearby outposts. In this book, Jones does an expert job of collating the individual marines' stories, moving in chronological order through the different battles, with each marine-participant allocated a paragraph or two. This is engaging, and lets the reader feel something of how it was to be under fire, to see comrades killed or wounded. But it also wears thin after a while--being hit by grenade fragments in January at hill 881 is exactly the same as being hit by grenade fragments a month later at the combat base. This is because we don't really get to know the marines except for basic background info: where they're from, what they did before joining the marines, what they do while in-country. To me, this points up the bigger lesson from this book and this battle: all these brave, highly-trained and motivated marines defended Khe Sanh because it was their job and they were ordered to. If one asks the question, 'why defend it?', the answer seems to be, because it was there. When the battle was mostly over, when the NVA had retreated, except for small, covert units, the US abandoned the base for a better one just to the east. It would have been difficult to evacuate Khe Sanh during the battle, but it would have comparatively safe and easy to do so when intelligence revealed the approach of two NVA divisions, but before the enemy troops were dug in, had stockpiled material, and were ready to engage. Even after the battle had begun, it should have been possible to abandon Khe Sanh with fewer casualties than were experienced in two months under siege; American air superiority meant that the NVA generally attacked at night or in inclement weather. It may be that General Westmoreland decided to hold onto Khe Sanh because there was no good base to fall back to, it may be because the General believed it was an opportunity to deal a crippling blow to the enemy (which it did--the two NVA divisions laying siege suffered a high percentage of casualties), or a skeptical person might think the decision was political--Westmoreland did not want the President, the Press, or the Public to think he was retreating, especially when he and the President had been assuring America that the war was winding down. (Nobody told Ho Chi Minh.) The even bigger lesson, now that we've finished replaying the Vietnam war in Afghanistan, is that repeated victory in local battles is not a sign that the populace has converted to our way of thinking or way of life. In Vietnam, the President and General Westmoreland were at the top of a chain of liars and fools who constant told their superiors what they wanted to hear: the people are behind us, the local military is getting stronger and is well motivated, the local politicians have the respect of the people, the insurgents have been disrupted and are losing their support, and any day now we can leave them to stand proudly on their own. I'd like to say this time we've learned our lesson, but history says otherwise.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Ken Warner

    Last Stand at Khe Sanh, The Marines Finest Hour In Vietnam. By Gregg Jones Over the years I've read quite of few books and articles about Khe Sanh, but never one like Last Stand at Khe Sanh. Gregg Jones takes the reader through the battles on the surrounding hills and then down into the red mud of the base camp. Through extensive interviews and research he follows the passion, sweat and tears of the men who lived and died. He draws the reader into the heroic actions of these men, mostly in their Last Stand at Khe Sanh, The Marines Finest Hour In Vietnam. By Gregg Jones Over the years I've read quite of few books and articles about Khe Sanh, but never one like Last Stand at Khe Sanh. Gregg Jones takes the reader through the battles on the surrounding hills and then down into the red mud of the base camp. Through extensive interviews and research he follows the passion, sweat and tears of the men who lived and died. He draws the reader into the heroic actions of these men, mostly in their late teens or early twenties. By caring enough to look into the lives of these individuals, ​M​r. Jones weaves a narrative of interviews and history the reader can’t help but feel as though they are in VietNam fighting along side these courageous Marines. Gregg Jones once wrote "he hopes his book will contribute in some small way in the keeping alive the memory of the brave service rendered in the defense of Khe Sanh". As having served there I know he has accomplished his goal and more. History buffs, students of war, family, friends and those who are interested in learning, you will not be disappointed.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Matias Myllyrinne

    Bloody and real. The book tells the tale from the perspective of often young marines fighting a war that was ultimately unwinable. Many characters get a cursory description and more often than not that is a cue for their untimely demise or horrible maiming. The end gets a little sappy but it feels like it is from the heart, so the genuine respect and sorrow more than make up for the patriotic sentimentality that for many non-Americans is simplistic and a little off-putting. The book explicitly ma Bloody and real. The book tells the tale from the perspective of often young marines fighting a war that was ultimately unwinable. Many characters get a cursory description and more often than not that is a cue for their untimely demise or horrible maiming. The end gets a little sappy but it feels like it is from the heart, so the genuine respect and sorrow more than make up for the patriotic sentimentality that for many non-Americans is simplistic and a little off-putting. The book explicitly makes no real attempt to cover the battles from the NVA point if view, which would have added more dimensions to the work. However, given the detailed nature of the writer this may be a blessing. A heartfelt and honest description from a one sided view, but a worthy read in the historic events and the everyday people caught in them.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Paul Knight

    Gregg Jones has given us an extremely detailed view of the daily life in the gripping 77 day siege of Khe Sanh in early 1968. This is one of the best accounts of how we managed to survive constant mortar, rocket and artillery attacks, as well as line probing by a nearly invisible enemy, and lack of food and water for months on end. Gregg puts the reader right in the middle of the action, as it actually happened, based on personal interviews and extensive research. This is a must read for everyon Gregg Jones has given us an extremely detailed view of the daily life in the gripping 77 day siege of Khe Sanh in early 1968. This is one of the best accounts of how we managed to survive constant mortar, rocket and artillery attacks, as well as line probing by a nearly invisible enemy, and lack of food and water for months on end. Gregg puts the reader right in the middle of the action, as it actually happened, based on personal interviews and extensive research. This is a must read for everyone with an interest in history. And a recollection of the Marines plight in a high, remote, lonely piece of ground that would eventually end up being abandoned. All at the expense of those wounded and killed in a seemingly unworthy defense of a piece of ground that Westmoreland deemed not worth keeping.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Mike Theiler

    Last Stand at Khe Sanh is a most honorable salute to the sacrifice, heroism and courage of our boys from Pawnee, Scranton, Yonkers, Wilmington and thousands of other small towns that produce our nation’s finest. There is a reason why they are called “The Few and The Proud”. As a photo-journalist it has been my good fortune to be with Marines in Beirut, Anbar and Jalalabad. The professionalism and esprit de corps of the Devil Dogs is an amazing thing to behold. Politics and policy aside, their st Last Stand at Khe Sanh is a most honorable salute to the sacrifice, heroism and courage of our boys from Pawnee, Scranton, Yonkers, Wilmington and thousands of other small towns that produce our nation’s finest. There is a reason why they are called “The Few and The Proud”. As a photo-journalist it has been my good fortune to be with Marines in Beirut, Anbar and Jalalabad. The professionalism and esprit de corps of the Devil Dogs is an amazing thing to behold. Politics and policy aside, their stories must be researched, told and passed on. I don’t know if the idea of “American Exceptionalism” crossed Gregg’s mind as he intimately interviewed the men who survived such a harrowing ordeal, but this reader came away with the thought that they were handed an ugly, dirty, seemingly impossible assignment, not only fulfilling it against all odds, but doing so with bravery and valor. I thank Gregg not only for the deeply-researched story of the 77-day siege, but all the historical tidbits like the backstory of Dien Bien Phu, Muscle Shoals, Super Gaggle, Johnson, McNamara and Westmoreland that enriched a story we should never forget. Semper Fi to all Marines and especially those who survived, thank you for informing us and reminding us of your special duty. -- Mike Theiler

  8. 4 out of 5

    K.K.

    This book has a good mix of on-ground conflict accounts and chain of command decision making, but these two story arcs aren’t interspersed very well. The ground battles and fire fights are told in vivid detail, thus might be too much to handle for novice readers of military action. The analysis of why Khe Sanh was strategic, then abandoned, was difficult for the U.S. soldiers (and me) to understand. But this statement would be true for the whole conflict itself. Domino theory and containment sti This book has a good mix of on-ground conflict accounts and chain of command decision making, but these two story arcs aren’t interspersed very well. The ground battles and fire fights are told in vivid detail, thus might be too much to handle for novice readers of military action. The analysis of why Khe Sanh was strategic, then abandoned, was difficult for the U.S. soldiers (and me) to understand. But this statement would be true for the whole conflict itself. Domino theory and containment still make little sense to me regarding Vietnam. From the Vietnam-ESE point of view, America was just another in a long line of occupation forces (i.e. China, France, and Japan). Note to audiobook listeners: Narrator William Hughes inexplicably pronounced Vietnamese as two separate words, like “Vietnam” and, as an afterthought, “ese”. Imagine listening to a book about Chinese history and hearing “China-ese” literally hundreds of times. It detracts from the narrative to such a degree that I think I should have taken the time to read the book myself.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Michael Burnam-Fink

    Jones does an astounding job at his singular goal of recounting the siege of Khe Sanh from the perspective of the men who were there. Stitching together interviews with veterans and after action reports, he blows away the fog of war to depict the terror of night assaults by the NVA, and hunking in the trenches and bunkers waiting for your number to come up. There's a little bit of stage setting, with just enough gestures at the context: The Tet Offensive, Bernard Fall's release of Hell in a Very Jones does an astounding job at his singular goal of recounting the siege of Khe Sanh from the perspective of the men who were there. Stitching together interviews with veterans and after action reports, he blows away the fog of war to depict the terror of night assaults by the NVA, and hunking in the trenches and bunkers waiting for your number to come up. There's a little bit of stage setting, with just enough gestures at the context: The Tet Offensive, Bernard Fall's release of Hell in a Very Small Place, LBJ, and interservice rivalry, to make sense of the story, but mostly he sticks close to the men and their experiences. Jones rates Khe Sanh a limited tactical victory. American air and artillery devastated the NVA regulars, and while giving up the base was a strategic embarrassment, a more secure location a few miles away continued to control the NW corner of South Vietnam.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Steven Ott

    This book is an outstanding chronicle of the siege of the marine base at Khe Sanh. Roughly 6,000 marines held off 20,000+ North Vietnamese troops over 77 days from December 1967-March 1968. According to the author, Gregg Jones, debate on who won this battle or the war or who is to blame seems indecent. "It is enough to know that the hundreds of Khe Sahn dead whose names are etched into the wall heeded the call of their country, and they went to Vietnam with the best of intentions." The courage a This book is an outstanding chronicle of the siege of the marine base at Khe Sanh. Roughly 6,000 marines held off 20,000+ North Vietnamese troops over 77 days from December 1967-March 1968. According to the author, Gregg Jones, debate on who won this battle or the war or who is to blame seems indecent. "It is enough to know that the hundreds of Khe Sahn dead whose names are etched into the wall heeded the call of their country, and they went to Vietnam with the best of intentions." The courage and bravery of the men who fought at Khe Sahn are extraordinary.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Steven Hull

    There are numerous books, articles and films about the largest battle of the Vietnam War, Khe Sanh. Although it was fought almost half a century ago and is not well known among younger generations, those who came of age during the Vietnam War are at least familiar with the name. Gregg Jones wanted to take a specific point of view in his narrative about the critical four months of the Battle, from January through April 1968, and that was to “capture the experience of ordinary young Americans thr There are numerous books, articles and films about the largest battle of the Vietnam War, Khe Sanh. Although it was fought almost half a century ago and is not well known among younger generations, those who came of age during the Vietnam War are at least familiar with the name. Gregg Jones wanted to take a specific point of view in his narrative about the critical four months of the Battle, from January through April 1968, and that was to “capture the experience of ordinary young Americans thrown into these extraordinary events in Vietnam”. Jones more than succeeds in achieving this goal. Jones conducted over ninety interviews of participants in the battle and researched numerous primary resources. He adeptly places this high stakes battle in the larger context of the chronological and strategic course of the war, giving meaning to the fears President Johnson and his senior military leaders had regarding the possibility of defeat. He also lays out the geographical value of Khe Sanh. Located in the northwest corner of South Vietnam just below the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), and astride the Ho Chi Minh Trail, Khe Sanh was a vital listening post and interdiction point for disrupting the flow of men and material from North Vietnam to the battlefields in the south. The tactical and strategic intentions of the iconic North Vietnamese General Vo Nguyen Giap and his counterpart, General William Westmoreland, and the historical debate surrounding them are described and discussed throughout the book. But the core of Jones’s narrative is the tactical build up of Giap’s forces and the American’s realization of this buildup and their commensurate tactical responses, all culminating in a four-month battle and seventy-seven day siege. Jones focuses on the principal actors in the unfolding drama, the eighteen, nineteen and twenty-year old enlisted Marines and their “older”, by two to four years, Lieutenant and Captain leaders. The 7,000 Marines at Khe Sanh and the surrounding hilltop fortresses soon find themselves cut off and isolated, capable of being resupplied solely though by air. Outnumbered three to one and constantly bombarded and besieged by the North Vietnamese Army (NVA), the Americans dug in and fought back with air power and grit. Jones breaks down the struggle into its core elements—the warrior-to-warrior contact between the NVA and the Marines. Here we learn of the crude brutality of the fighting, the horrendous day-to-day struggle for survival by men on both sides, and the impartiality of the cruel hand of fate as good, young men are cut down. Taking a page from Ernie Pyle’s Brave Men, Jones introduces us to these men, most too young to legally vote or drink. We learn where they are from, tidbits about their families, their accomplishments and their aspirations. Too frequently they are killed or seriously wounded as the battles rage on, day after day, night after night. There is no respite save death or serious injury. Jones personalizes the fighting. We understand who these men are and we grieve for those killed and wounded, and we celebrate those who live on. Last Stand at Khe Sanh is a fast, hard, necessary read. The living and dead who fought there endured a type of combat that rivaled any in American history for pure savagery. For those killed and their families, the battle resulted in permanent tragedy. In the Epilogue, Jones tells us how life turned out for many of Khe Sanh’s survivors. All were deeply affected by the experience. Some struggled, ultimately finding peace through a broad array of means—counseling, meaningful work, denial of their experiences, reconnecting with other Khe Sanh veterans and in a few heartbreaking cases, suicide. What we are not told, and it is perhaps not yet possible and would have been beyond the scope of this effort, is what did the NVA personnel experience, how did they cope, what were their individual and collective tragedies and triumphs? Jones confirms the universality of young Americans thrown into desperate combat thousands of miles from home. Faced with death, they fought ferociously for each other and for survival. They accepted their lot and responded with extraordinary resourcefulness and bravery. While caught in a maelstrom of merciless destruction, they reflected the best and worst humans have to offer—fear, camaraderie, loyalty, brutality, humor, and a devotion to survival. We also see how we, as a nation, generally treat these true heroes—we remain purposefully ignorant of their sacrifices, preoccupied with our own lives. This is a truism of our modern wars, whether it be the World Wars, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq or Afghanistan.

  12. 5 out of 5

    John Podlaski

    The Last Stand at Khe Sanh was an intriguing read that documented the 77 day siege of the Marine basecamp. It seems like the author took the after action reports about the events and then humanized the report and breaking it down to squad level action to make it more readable. I especially like how he listed names of personnel and followed them through the battle where they either portrayed valor or shows how they died. My close friend, Doc Cecala was wounded during an ambush while on a patrol w The Last Stand at Khe Sanh was an intriguing read that documented the 77 day siege of the Marine basecamp. It seems like the author took the after action reports about the events and then humanized the report and breaking it down to squad level action to make it more readable. I especially like how he listed names of personnel and followed them through the battle where they either portrayed valor or shows how they died. My close friend, Doc Cecala was wounded during an ambush while on a patrol with B 1/26; most of his platoon was killed and at least half of the second which came to reinforce them. Shot in the shoulder and legs, he managed to crawl back to the gates of the firebase and be rescued. The book also does justice to the hill fights surrounding the base, showing how they worked through their difficulties: ground attacks, incoming, lack of water, food and ammunition. Once finished, the reader is able to review the action taken by the American leadership and gage whether or not they did the right thing. Mr. Jones also documents the action within the white house and discussions between President Johnson, McNamara and Westmorland and how politics entered into their decisions. Highly recommended for those wanting to learn more about one of the monumental battles of the Vietnam War. Great job Gregg Jones for putting it all together for us. John Podlaski, author "Cherries - A Vietnam War Novel" and "When Can I Stop Running?"

  13. 5 out of 5

    Dennis Mannion

    For those of us there, the Khe Sanh siege in the first four months of 1968 was a life-altering experience. Gregg Jones has masterfully written an account of the time when most of the world -- and in particular the United States -- was mesmerized by television reports and the printed word emanating from the "besieged combat base." Mr. Jones captures it all -- the fears, the heroics, the tactics, the errors and the successes -- of close combat with a ferocious and determined foe 46 years ago. Whil For those of us there, the Khe Sanh siege in the first four months of 1968 was a life-altering experience. Gregg Jones has masterfully written an account of the time when most of the world -- and in particular the United States -- was mesmerized by television reports and the printed word emanating from the "besieged combat base." Mr. Jones captures it all -- the fears, the heroics, the tactics, the errors and the successes -- of close combat with a ferocious and determined foe 46 years ago. While no reader can ever be transported physically to a battlefield, this author's unique skills can get you as close as possible to a place where one of the oldest axioms of war came into play -- the role of fortune. Often at Khe Sanh, it was not skill or talent that kept one alive; it was the gods of fate that ruled the days and the nights. Much like Rick Atkinson's Liberation Trilogy on the fighting in Europe in World War Two, Last Stand at Khe Sanh focuses less on the higher-ups and the decision makers and instead brings the reader into the world of men on the ground and in the air during the largest and longest battle of the Vietnam War. The author takes you back to a place where "dig deeper" was the operative phrase for months and where the shouted word "incoming" took years off one's life or ended it instantly. A remarkable book.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Jove

    A hard, bruising description of one of Vietnam War's most famous battles, built around individual narratives linked together to build a compelling story of the battle. While the author clearly has a deeper historical understanding of the battle than this book conveys, given that the purpose of the book seems to be to relate the experience of the battle from the American perspective, I appreciated his occasional commentary on the broader impact of the battle. I couldn't help but think how the 6000 A hard, bruising description of one of Vietnam War's most famous battles, built around individual narratives linked together to build a compelling story of the battle. While the author clearly has a deeper historical understanding of the battle than this book conveys, given that the purpose of the book seems to be to relate the experience of the battle from the American perspective, I appreciated his occasional commentary on the broader impact of the battle. I couldn't help but think how the 6000 Marines were essentially stranded on the hills of Khe Sanh, seemingly almost as an enticement for the North Vietnamese. The importance of the battle became more about generating a battle, rather than the tactical or even the strategic importance of the hills themselves. Somewhere towards the end of the book, someone comments that "We never gave back Iwo Jima." I'm sure that having the back and forth of fought for land being determined by forces outside of those immediately relevant to those doing the fighting must have been maddeningly frustrating.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Buck Edwards

    Finally a book about Vietnam that recognizes the heroics and hard fought-for survival of one of the key battles of that war. Gregg Jones' research is meticulous and drawn from the very mouths of those who served on that patch of forsaken hilltop in 1968. If ever there was a question about the courage of 18-22 year old Marines, this book lays that to rest. An account often so painful, it is hard to read, and yet it portrays a side to that war that few who did not go and fight would want to read, Finally a book about Vietnam that recognizes the heroics and hard fought-for survival of one of the key battles of that war. Gregg Jones' research is meticulous and drawn from the very mouths of those who served on that patch of forsaken hilltop in 1968. If ever there was a question about the courage of 18-22 year old Marines, this book lays that to rest. An account often so painful, it is hard to read, and yet it portrays a side to that war that few who did not go and fight would want to read, as it puts to shame those who "piled on" when the troops returned to the states. Courage like that was never seen in the protesting streets of America, then or now. "Last Stand at Khe Sanh" should be required reading for anyone whose hangnails accounts for a bad day. Hats off to Gregg Jones for his diligent recording of a hard season in a long ago but still relevant war.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Carlton Phelps

    Heart breaking. But read you should. The lives lost of so many young men and the effects of that loss is still with us today. The story isn't so much about who and why were involved but a story of bravery and heroes. The struggles that were faced by these young men and the hidden wounds they brought back home. The characters are people who you want as friends and hopefully are willing to put your life in their hands. Great men, proud men who, along with others, gave their lives so we could live in a Heart breaking. But read you should. The lives lost of so many young men and the effects of that loss is still with us today. The story isn't so much about who and why were involved but a story of bravery and heroes. The struggles that were faced by these young men and the hidden wounds they brought back home. The characters are people who you want as friends and hopefully are willing to put your life in their hands. Great men, proud men who, along with others, gave their lives so we could live in a free country. These men should always be remembered and Mr. Jones's book does this well. Thank you for writing about these brave men and the sacrifice they and their families have made.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Evan

    This is a difficult book to read without more context of the Vietnam War. The author clearly states his narrow focus in the introduction. However, I read it without a lot of context, and it made the book harder to follow. The book does an excellent job of explaining the hardships, death, injury, and misery of the Marines who endured the seige at Khe Sanh. Similar to The Outpost: An Untold Story of American Valor by Tapper, Jones does a good job of providing some background on as many Marines who This is a difficult book to read without more context of the Vietnam War. The author clearly states his narrow focus in the introduction. However, I read it without a lot of context, and it made the book harder to follow. The book does an excellent job of explaining the hardships, death, injury, and misery of the Marines who endured the seige at Khe Sanh. Similar to The Outpost: An Untold Story of American Valor by Tapper, Jones does a good job of providing some background on as many Marines who died as possible. The difference, is quite different, in that Jones is able to follow the lives of the Marines much further into the future - including the accounts of Marines who later committed suicide. He interviewed a Marine who has struggled with why he survived when so many others died. The Marine realizes that he survived so that those who died would not be forgotten. I read this book after reading Robert Coram's Brute: The Life of Victor Krulak, U.S. Marine. As part of Krulak's biography, he highlighted the major Marine actions that still define the service: 1) the battle of belleau wood, 2) the battle of Guadacanal, 3) the retreat from the Chosin Reservoir, 4) the seige at Khe Sanh, and 5) the second battle of Fallujah. I've subsequently read This Kind of War: The Classic Military History of the Korean War about the retreat from the Chosin Reservoir. The seige at Khe Sanh is similar in the horrible conditions, death and injury. The seige at Khe Sanh is completely different in that the Marines were told to just sit on a hill like sitting ducks. At least in the retreat, Marines were doing something - fighting their way out. At Khe Sanh, they were target practice for the NVA artillery.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Robert F.

    This is a well written book of almost exhausting proportions. The siege of Khe Sanh took months and a lot happened. You will read about most of it in this book, a homage to the Marines who were there. 60 percent of the book is about the battle and its’ many episodes, the remainder is mostly about what became of many of the survivors. It is exhausting at times to read through so much carnage which will give the reader a very small window into what it must have felt like to the actual participants This is a well written book of almost exhausting proportions. The siege of Khe Sanh took months and a lot happened. You will read about most of it in this book, a homage to the Marines who were there. 60 percent of the book is about the battle and its’ many episodes, the remainder is mostly about what became of many of the survivors. It is exhausting at times to read through so much carnage which will give the reader a very small window into what it must have felt like to the actual participants. This battle dominated the airwaves of the US while it lasted and it’s rather sudden end left us all wondering WTF!? So much sacrifice and the walk away; almost a metaphor of the war itself. Military historians will be well pleased with this account.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Marc Cullison

    Wow! What a picture it paints of the Vietnam War at its worst. The author takes you into the trenches, bunkers, and minds of the U. S. Marines who bravely defended Khe Sanh during the 1968 TET offensive. The images are not pretty, but the message is clear. Few people will be able to fully comprehend the significance of this book; only those who have been in combat can truly glean its importance. The book will offend you, anger you, and raise questions about our role among the nations of the worl Wow! What a picture it paints of the Vietnam War at its worst. The author takes you into the trenches, bunkers, and minds of the U. S. Marines who bravely defended Khe Sanh during the 1968 TET offensive. The images are not pretty, but the message is clear. Few people will be able to fully comprehend the significance of this book; only those who have been in combat can truly glean its importance. The book will offend you, anger you, and raise questions about our role among the nations of the world. As a Vietnam veteran, I had mixed feelings about the book, but I’m glad the author wrote it. Without stories of a war zone like these, they might be forgotten forever.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Rian Davis

    This book tells the story of the NVA (North Vietnamese Army) siege on the remote fort of Khe Sanh during the height of the war, just before the Tet Offensive in early 1968. It is told from the perspective of individual soldiers' accounts as well as a command level, and the author does a beautiful job of telling a cohesive narrative that brings it all together. I would recommend reading Michael Herr's Dispatches along with this one as he covers the same battle in part of his book through a comple This book tells the story of the NVA (North Vietnamese Army) siege on the remote fort of Khe Sanh during the height of the war, just before the Tet Offensive in early 1968. It is told from the perspective of individual soldiers' accounts as well as a command level, and the author does a beautiful job of telling a cohesive narrative that brings it all together. I would recommend reading Michael Herr's Dispatches along with this one as he covers the same battle in part of his book through a completely personal perspective. Overall: A very engrossing book and an important story of how the marines managed to survive constant attack and bombardment to avoid becoming the next Dien Bien Phu.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Ann

    Excellent book Recommend this book to anyone wanting to know details of the siege of the Khe Sanh Marine base, the many actions by small units, and a timeline of the many events. It is also an account of the men who survived or died there, written with feeling, humor, and respect. The author easily brings these many men to life, and I felt like I knew them, and their thoughts. In my opinion, this is a book bringing young men to life: they shall not be forgotten, Dirk P de Vries

  22. 5 out of 5

    Garrett

    Effective narrative describing the terrible conditions that Marines, Sailors, Soldiers, and ARVN troops endured during the siege of Khe Sanh and its surrounding hills. The book focuses on the human element of the conflict and is lighter on the tactics. The author also explains the politics behind Khe Sanh and nests the battle within the larger Vietnam conflict. Overall, I would recommend this book if you are looking for a quick read that focuses on the people involved in this battle and provides Effective narrative describing the terrible conditions that Marines, Sailors, Soldiers, and ARVN troops endured during the siege of Khe Sanh and its surrounding hills. The book focuses on the human element of the conflict and is lighter on the tactics. The author also explains the politics behind Khe Sanh and nests the battle within the larger Vietnam conflict. Overall, I would recommend this book if you are looking for a quick read that focuses on the people involved in this battle and provides some insight into the politics and scope of the Vietnam conflict.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Ellen Hampton

    Vivid, in-the-moment oral history of the individual soldiers who fought during the siege of Khe Sanh in 1968. Author Gregg Jones puts the reader on the ground, managing to communicate the futility of the operation, but never the commitment of the men who were there. I appreciated his description of my father's plane being shot down; reading it brought back a flood of memories of that tragic year, and all the good men we lost. Thanks for honoring them, Gregg. Vivid, in-the-moment oral history of the individual soldiers who fought during the siege of Khe Sanh in 1968. Author Gregg Jones puts the reader on the ground, managing to communicate the futility of the operation, but never the commitment of the men who were there. I appreciated his description of my father's plane being shot down; reading it brought back a flood of memories of that tragic year, and all the good men we lost. Thanks for honoring them, Gregg.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Jon Scarborough

    This war chronology by Gregg Jones might be one of the most emotional engaging books I have read regarding the VN War. The bravery of the men at Khe Sanh was unsurpassed. I re-read many chapters, and will re-read the book a few more times in my life. As a non-vet, I can only say thank you to the Marine brotherhood. What would the United States have done without you!

  25. 5 out of 5

    Medusa

    It’s a fine book, less formal military history (despite the footnotes) than the kind of book that puts a human face on individual soldier experiences in a major battle of the Vietnam War. As long as you don’t expect the former, as I confess I did, you’ll find this a worthy use of time in your Vietnam reading.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Doug Taylor

    Quick, vivid description of the Battle in 1968. Brutal, fast, full of little details that make for compelling reading. I wish it had a little more of strategic picture of early 1968, including the full Tet offensive and the situation at Hué. A chapter interspersing Khe Sahn and Johnson & McNamarra is a nice slice of the larger war and its effect. Still a great read!

  27. 4 out of 5

    Rich Hasler

    In the end, I was glad I read this brutal and exhausting account of the amazing resilience of the Marines at Khe Sanh. What a truly epic struggle and sacrifice they paid on so many levels. I was only 13 when this event played out and remembering the score-count on nightly TV. Yet, I don't think that or other mention of the battle prepared me for the sheer, gut-wrenching story detailed here. In the end, I was glad I read this brutal and exhausting account of the amazing resilience of the Marines at Khe Sanh. What a truly epic struggle and sacrifice they paid on so many levels. I was only 13 when this event played out and remembering the score-count on nightly TV. Yet, I don't think that or other mention of the battle prepared me for the sheer, gut-wrenching story detailed here.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Lawrence Duma

    Too much was lost Words alone can't begin to describe all the pain and anguish American men and women and all the families endured during this era. Too much was lost Words alone can't begin to describe all the pain and anguish American men and women and all the families endured during this era.

  29. 4 out of 5

    James Muzani

    a fascinating account of a vicious battle!

  30. 4 out of 5

    Ron Fogarty

    Good book, a lot of action.

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