Hue 1968: A Turning Point of the American War in Vietnam written by Mark Bowden was a “New York Times best seller”.2 It describes the battle in Hue that took place during the Tet Offensive in 1968 through the eyes of participants who were there.1 Coming from the author of the “New York Times best seller” Black Hawk Down that was later turned into the movie of the same name.2 Hue 1968 provides a very clear picture of what it would have been like to be an American solider during the fighting.1 However, if you want to learn what happened in the quickest way possible such as for an assignment at university, I would unfortunately recommend finding another book.1

American soldier jumping from either side of a helicopter
WikimediaImages. Pixabay. Pixabay License. Available at: https://pixabay.com/photos/bell-uh-1-helicopter-iroquois-huey-906516/ [Accessed 6th January 2021].

Bowden’s method of storytelling is similar to that of Max Hasting in Nemesis: The Battle for Japan, 1944-45. As both authors use first-hand accounts to make up the majority of their respective books. With the first-hand accounts being weaved together to form the story. This is supplemented with a narrative on the events and the wider situation surrounding war. However, they differ in that Bowden focuses on an individual battle, whereas Hasting focuses on an entire campaign.4

In Hue 1968, Bowden divides the battle into six parts, each covering a distinct pierce of the battle from beginning to end. The first-hand accounts include soldiers and officials on both sides, such as general Westmoreland and President Lyndon B. Johnson. Many of these accounts are spread throughout the course of the book.1

American soldier next to a burning building
WikiImages. Pixabay. Pixabay License. Available at: https://pixabay.com/photos/war-flamethrower-soldier-bazooka-67524/ [Accessed 6th January 2021].

Hue 1968 focuses primarily on the American experience. Although it would have been nice to hear more from the Vietnamese side, as was the case in part one. This would have allowed a more rounded understanding of the battle. Especially since many of the American accounts unfortunately end up over lapping. Around three fourths of the book covers the personal experience of the American military. With the remaining one fourth left for international journalist and small amount for the Vietnamese accounts of the battle. Given that most of the combatants and all the civilians were Vietnamese, it would have been nice for them to get more of a hearing. Although I am probably being too harsh, as the book aims to tell the American side of the battle.1

American soldier
WikiImages. Pixabay. Pixabay License. Available at: https://pixabay.com/photos/viet-nam-war-soldier-young-man-67486/ [Accessed 6th January 2021].

However, Hue 1968 does suffer from two big problems, regarding the narrative flow. Firstly, when you jump between stories, it sometimes results in a jarring motion. As all of sudden, you find yourself leaping from a high crescendo of one story to a slow build of the next story. As the book, progresses the stories start to fit better together, as the book begins to focus solely on the Americans accounts of the battle. Some of the scene setting comes from the need to remind the reader of what has gone on before. Such as when characters are reintroduced after being dropped chapters ago.1

The voice provided by Joe Barrett comes across as if he could have been one of the American soldiers personally retelling the story. According to Tantor Media, Barrett has won 14 Earphones Awards from AudioFile magazine and has been a finalist for Audie Award eight times.3

war memorial
Steve Wilson. Pixabay. Pixabay License. Available at: https://pixabay.com/photos/vietnam-veteran-memorial-war-4980808/ [Accessed 6th January 2021].

To Sum up Hue 1968 is a real good account of the battle that took place at Hue. Mark Bowden is just the communicator for those who were there.1

By Arran Wilkins © 2021 (text only)

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Biography

(1) Bowden, Mark. (Author). Barrett, Joe. (Narrator). Hue 1968: A Turning Point of the American War in Vietnam (Audible Studios, 2017) Amazon audible, Available at: https://www.audible.co.uk/pd/Hue-1968-Audiobook/B071XDHBZL?ref=a_library_t_c5_libItem_&pf_rd_p=da5752e8-6ae2-4c79-a3e2-1ab92e079358&pf_rd_r=B6S326FP4KGS9X6YQEY0 [Accessed 6th January 2021].

(2) Audible, Hue 1968 A Turning Point of the American War in Vietnam. Available at: https://www.audible.co.uk/pd/Hue-1968-Audiobook/B071XDHBZL?qid=1614013302&sr=1-1&ref=a_search_c3_lProduct_1_1&pf_rd_p=c6e316b8-14da-418d-8f91-b3cad83c5183&pf_rd_r=HPJQGEPYYZDJCZ474XZ1 [Accessed on 22 February 2021].

Audible, Black Hawk Down. Available at: https://www.audible.co.uk/pd/Black-Hawk-Down-Audiobook/B01M66ACJ3?ref=a_author_Ma_c9_lProduct_1_2&pf_rd_p=82bb5fbf-e002-4fc5-b76c-dcbb48521205&pf_rd_r=XE4PF83Q1CMDAP9CP2GB [Accessed on 22 February 2021].

Amazon.co.uk, Hue 1968: A Turning Point of the American War in Vietnam Kindle Edition. Available at: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Hue-1968-Turning-American-Vietnam-ebook/dp/B0716QHDLM/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr= [Accessed on 22 February 2021].

(3) Tantor Media, Joe Barrett. Available at: https://tantor.com/narrator/joe-barrett.html [Accessed 6th January 2021].

Bowden, Mark. (Author). Barrett, Joe. (Narrator). Hue 1968: A Turning Point of the American War in Vietnam (Audible Studios, 2017) Amazon audible, Available at: https://www.audible.co.uk/pd/Hue-1968-Audiobook/B071XDHBZL?ref=a_library_t_c5_libItem_&pf_rd_p=da5752e8-6ae2-4c79-a3e2-1ab92e079358&pf_rd_r=B6S326FP4KGS9X6YQEY0 [Accessed 6th January 2021].

(4) Hasting, Max (Author). Cameron, Stewart (Narrator). Nemesis: The Battle for Japan, 1944-45 (Audible Studios, 2014) Amazon audible, Available at: https://www.audible.co.uk/pd/Nemesis-Audiobook/B00KQ35W4A?qid=1614011023&sr=1-1&ref=a_search_c3_lProduct_1_1&pf_rd_p=c6e316b8-14da-418d-8f91-b3cad83c5183&pf_rd_r=375YWD754CT9QS3SRYRS [Accessed on 22 February 2021].

Bowden, Mark. (Author). Barrett, Joe. (Narrator). Hue 1968: A Turning Point of the American War in Vietnam (Audible Studios, 2017) Amazon audible, Available at: https://www.audible.co.uk/pd/Hue-1968-Audiobook/B071XDHBZL?ref=a_library_t_c5_libItem_&pf_rd_p=da5752e8-6ae2-4c79-a3e2-1ab92e079358&pf_rd_r=B6S326FP4KGS9X6YQEY0 [Accessed 6th January 2021].

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