Late January and February of this year marked the 50th anniversary of the Tet Offensive in South Vietnam. This was a time when the North Vietnamese marked their Lunar New Year, or Tet, with invasions and occupations of cities in South Vietnam. The most bloody, destructive, and longest of these took place in a city called Hue (pronounced Hway).
Mark Bowden covers this invasion and battle from all sides of the story: North Vietnam, South Vietnam, and the United States. He looks at the combatants from the individual soldiers all the way up the chain of command to generals and US President Johnson. He chronicles the action from the first day to the last, covering every inch-by-bloody-inch taken and retaken.
At over 500 pages of reading, Hue 1968 is certainly no tome. It is action-packed and covers the violence and confusion of combat in great detail. Bowden also explains the strategy and politics that went into the siege and retaking of Hue. There are plenty of photographs and maps to help the reader visualize the city and the soldiers.
This battle not only resulted in a great number of casualties on both sides, including civilians, it also shifted the way both the American military and the American people looked at our mission in Vietnam. Bowden does a great job in explaining it from all angles, making Hue 1968 a great read that will help you understand what happened to our country 50 years ago.