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We Were Soldiers Once… and Young: Ia Drang – The Battle that Changed the War in Vietnam by Harold G. Moore Review

Title: We Were Soldiers Once… and Young: Ia Drang – The Battle that Changed the War in Vietnam

Author: Harold G.


First published October 20, 1991

480 pages, Paperback

ISBN: 9780345475817 (ISBN10: 034547581X)

Rating: 4.32


We Were Soldiers Once… and Young: Ia Drang – The Battle that Changed the War in Vietnam is a powerful account of one of the most significant battles of the Vietnam War.

In November 1965, Lt. Col. Hal Moore and his 450 men of the 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry were dropped into the Ia Drang Valley, where they were immediately surrounded by 2,000 North Vietnamese soldiers.

The battle that ensued at landing zones X-Ray and Albany was brutal and devastating, and General Moore and Joseph Galloway, the only journalist on the ground, have interviewed hundreds of men who fought there, including the North Vietnamese commanders. This gripping and emotional account captures the heroic and unimaginable sacrifices made by these men as they faced the ultimate challenge of war.

Selected by the Commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps as a book that is both relevant and timeless for all Marines, We Were Soldiers Once… and Young is a vivid portrait of war that will leave a lasting impact on its readers.

About the Author

Meet Lieutenant General Harold Gregory Moore Jr., a distinguished United States Army officer and accomplished author. Throughout his career, he received many awards, including the Distinguished Service Cross, which is the second-highest decoration for valor in the U.S. military.

Moore holds the distinction of being the first member of his West Point class (1945) to be promoted to brigadier general, major general, and lieutenant general.

One of Moore’s most notable achievements was his leadership during the 1965 battle of the Ia Drang valley in Vietnam. At the time, he was a Lt. Colonel and served as the primary U.S. officer commanding.

Joe Galloway, a combat correspondent for UPI, was also present during much of the battle and co-authored two successful books with Moore: We Were Soldiers Once… And Young & We Are Soldiers Still: A Journey Back To The Battlefields Of Vietnam.

Moore’s distinguished career also included combat service in the Korean War before his service in Vietnam. He retired from the Army in 1977 and received numerous medals, decorations, and badges, including the Army Distinguished Service Medal, Legion Of Merit (3 Awards), Bronze Star (4 Awards, including 2 for valor), and Republic of Vietnam Cross of Gallantry with Palm (3 Awards).

In November 2013, Casemate Publishers released a full-length biography of Lt. Gen. Moore titled Hal Moore: A Soldier Once…

And Always by Mike Guardia.

Editoral Review

We Were Soldiers Once… and Young: Ia Drang – The Battle that Changed the War in Vietnam by Harold G.

Moore is a poignant and harrowing account of one of the deadliest battles of the Vietnam War. First published on October 20, 1991, the book tells the story of the fight for Ia Drang Valley, a strategic location near the Cambodian border, which became the first major battle between the American and the North Vietnamese armies in November 1965.

Harold G. Moore, a retired lieutenant general and one of the most decorated soldiers of the Vietnam War, co-authored the book with journalist Joseph L.

Galloway. The book is a meticulous and intimate portrayal of the men who fought and died in the valley, as well as their families back home.

Through personal recollections and interviews, Moore and Galloway present a vivid picture of the courage, sacrifice, and camaraderie that defined this defining moment in U.S. military history. The authors make a compelling case for their argument that the battle changed the course of the Vietnam War by exposing the limitations of American firepower and the resilience of the North Vietnamese army.

Besides its historical significance, the book also offers insight into the social and cultural context of the time. It sheds light on the anti-war protests, the racial tensions, and the generational divide that were tearing apart American society.

The writing style of We Were Soldiers Once… and Young is not flashy or ornate, but it is clear, concise, and emotionally impactful.

The authors do an excellent job of interspersing personal anecdotes with technical details and strategic analysis, which keeps the reader engaged and invested in the story. The book is also well-organized, with a clear chronological narrative that makes it easy to follow the events of the battle.

The characters in the book are many, but the authors manage to give each of them enough attention to make them feel real and significant. Lieutenant Colonel Harold G.

Moore and command sergeant major Basil L. Plumley, both central figures in the book, are portrayed as courageous and competent leaders who inspired their troops to fight against overwhelming odds.

The authors do not shy away from showing the human toll of war, describing the deaths, injuries, and PTSD of the soldiers involved. One of the strengths of the book is its nuanced portrayal of the Vietnamese soldiers, who are often depicted in Western media as faceless and evil enemies.

The authors acknowledge the bravery and skill of the North Vietnamese soldiers, as well as their deep sense of national pride and ideology. By doing so, they avoid falling into simplistic stereotypes and offer a more nuanced perspective on the war.

We Were Soldiers Once… and Young is not without its flaws, however.

The authors sometimes lapse into military jargon and acronyms, which might be confusing or off-putting for readers without a military background. The book also focuses mostly on the American soldiers’ perspective, which leaves the Vietnamese point of view largely unexplored.

The authors also tend to romanticize the idea of the “band of brothers,” which can come across as sentimental and idealistic. Overall, We Were Soldiers Once…

and Young is an impressive and moving tribute to the soldiers who fought and died in the Ia Drang Valley. It is a valuable historical document that sheds light on a critical period in American history, as well as a testament to the resilience of the human spirit in times of hardship.

It is recommended for readers who are interested in military history, American society, and the human experience of war. Rating: 4 out of 5 stars.

While the book has some minor flaws, its strengths outweigh them. The rating is based on the quality of writing, character development, plot structure, historical accuracy, and emotional impact of the book.

The authors’ ability to balance technical details with personal anecdotes, their honest portrayal of the soldiers’ experiences, and their nuanced perspective on the war make We Were Soldiers Once… and Young a must-read for anyone interested in the topic.