In Country: Remembering the Vietnam War

John Prados (Editor)


Young Americans went to South Vietnam and fought in a fierce war they barely understood. For a year they experienced an exotic land, strove to learn how to fight--and survive--looking eagerly ahead to their return from "The Nam." Their searing experiences varied by where they were assigned and at what point in the war they served. The Vietnamese adversaries, North and South, were defending their homes, fighting with no hope of ending the war other than by winning it. Too often the ordeals of those on both sides have been told by others--journalists, historians, even generals. In an invaluable corrective, John Prados, one of our leading interpreters of the Vietnam War, opens a window into the visceral reality of those on the ground in Vietnam. His carefully chosen and thoughtfully introduced anthology gathers the voices--in narrative and poetry--of men and women; Americans and Vietnamese (both of the North and South); officers, enlisted men, and civilians. All the selections feature individuals' experiences of war or witnessing specific events and the realities of being caught up in them. Bridging the chasm between history and memory, together they offer an intense, even blazing, testimonial to the human condition in war.

Product Details

Ivan R. Dee Publisher
Publish Date
December 16, 2011
6.15 X 0.95 X 9.22 inches | 1.28 pounds
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About the Author

John Prados is widely recognized as one of the foremost historians of the Vietnam War and of national security affairs. A Columbia University Ph.D., he is a senior fellow at the National Security Archives. His widely reviewed and award-winning books include Presidents' Secret Wars, Pentagon Games, Keepers of the Keys, Inside the Pentagon Papers, The Blood Road, Valley of Decision, The Hidden History of the Vietnam War, Combined Fleet Decoded, and Normandy Crucible: The Decisive Battle that Shaped World War II in Europe. Mr. Prados lives in Silver Spring, Maryland.


John Prados performs a valuable service, drawing together the perspectives of those who fought the war on the ground in Vietnam. The result is illuminating, and often moving. He puts faces on those who bore the burden of the bloody fighting on both sides. This is a must-read for military historians and Vietnam War veterans.--James H. Willbanks, author of Abandoning Vietnam
Nothing illuminates the true nature of war as well as the voices of those who experienced it firsthand. In this valuable volume, John Prados has gathered together an impressive array of first-person testimony from a wide range of individuals who took part in America's long, controversial war in Vietnam. This book provides readers with page after page of insights on the complex nature of that conflict. Highly recommended.--Marc Leepson, journalist, author, historian
National Security Archives historian Prados, who has long specialized in the Vietnam War (Inside the Pentagon Papers), presents a compendium of first-person accounts of the American war. Although most of the voices are those of American service personnel and North and South Vietnamese military veterans, Prados also includes a sprinkling of civilian participants, including CIA operatives. (All of the words are excerpted from previously published material.) The book contains a brief overview of the war's history, and short introductions to each entry. The voices offer a message that is not political, writes Prados. Rather, 'it is one built from the ordeals and adventures of men and women thrown into the maelstrom of this war.' Some of those men and women will be familiar to students of the Vietnam War: Philip Caputo, Fred Downs, W.D. Ehrhart, Ronald Glasser, David Hackworth, Hal Moore, Colin Powell, Norman Schwarzkopf, Jack Smith, Ray Stubbe, Hugh Thompson, Lynda Van Devanter, Bruce Weigl. A preponderance of the witnesses are officers, and only a scarce handful are support personnel. Still, this is a valuable collection of primary source material that succeeds in the author's goal of recapturing 'the smell and the taste of Vietnam' and the on-the-ground experiences of those who fought there.--Publishers Weekly
Prados' great gift is his solid structure and commentary that add a context that might--just might--lead to understanding.--Army Magazine
A good collection of primary source material that succeeds in the author's goal of recapturing 'the smell and the taste' of Vietnam and the feelings of the vets confronting the land and the adversary.--The VVA Veteran