Why read a 500+ page book about a battle that happened in 1968? Several reasons. First, I became a photographer because of the photography that came out of the Vietnam War. Second, Hue was the battle that turned the tide of the entire conflict. Lastly, Mark Bowden knows how to tell a story. The author of Blackhawk Down(which was turned down by MANY publishers again proving publishers don’t necessarily know what the public wants.) Killing Pablo, The Finish, Worm and many others.
This book grabs you from the first page. Hue, the cultural center of Vietnam, became a strategic chess piece in the Tet Offensive of 1968. The most intense fight of the entire war. Block by block, house by house and incredibly deadly for both sides. Hue, 1968 has based on numerous interviews with former Marines, NVA, Vietcong and others. It’s hard to imagine ANY of this actually taking place, but it did, while the American public was being systematically lied to by the government and military. Sound familiar? The book also covers several of the journalists who covered the battle including Catherine Leroy who I got to know before her death in 2006. To say this eighty-five-pound woman was the utlimate badass is an understatement. She rode her bike into battle with a sign reading “Journalist, from Paris,” and spent a day photographing the NVA. No joke.
If you haven’t read Bowden then get off your ass and start reading. As for this book, get it, read it.
Thanks for the tip, I think I might give it a go, although usually, I stay away from war stories. Catherine Leroy joined my battalion south of the DMZ in 1966 when we had come ashore for Operation Deckhouse [something]. I was a Lieutenant at the time, and she didn’t bother with officers but hung out with the troops. I spent my entire tour with Marine infantry units, and we always got along fine with reporters. I think part of that stemmed from the fact that we all greatly admired Bernard Fall, who, I later learned, was killed just a few miles from where I was with my company at the time.
Hey, many thanks for your blog and all the good and interesting work you bring to light. You are a great inspiration!
Best – christian
Holy s%$#. I had no idea. That is amazing. One, that you were in Vietnam and that you met Leroy. Larry Burrows was why I became a photographer. Yankee Poppa Thirteen. Have you seen the book Requiem by Tim Page?
Daniel, I should clarify that I did not actually meet her. She joined our battalion/company shortly after we had come ashore, somewhere below the DMZ, to intercept/drive back elements of the NVA’s 324-B Division. A male reporter was with her. As I mentioned in my email, I took a photo of her, but it was lost. That’s as far as my ‘claim to fame’ goes.