On Monday, June 12th at noon ET, we’ll have a Facebook Live interview with author Mark Bowden on the Military.com Facebook page. We'll be talking with Bowden about his new book Hue 1968 (available now) and taking your questions.
Black Hawk Down author Bowden tells the story of the centerpiece battle of the Tet Offensive and Hue 1968 makes a strong case that the encounter was a major turning point in the Vietnam War.
Bowden went back and reported the story from scratch, conducting interviews with participants from both sides and scouring the war archives in the U.S. and Vietnam. This isn't a quick cut-and-paste job; it's a thorough reappraisal of the battle that benefits from both original reporting and historical perspective.
Anyone old enough to remember General William Westmoreland's confident predictions (“the end begins to come into view") at the end of 1967 will be surprised to learn just how badly he misread or ignored the intel.
For those too young to remember, the North Vietnamese launched a nationwide attack on January 31, 1968 at the beginning of the Tet holiday (a/k/a Vietnamese New Year), a time traditionally marked by a ceasefire. They believed South Vietnamese citizens would recognize them as liberators and rise up across the country. That didn't happen and most of their attacks were quickly shut down, but 10,000 National Liberation Front troops invaded and captured Hue, the country’s cultural capital.
American officers had no idea just how large the invading forces were, something that led to early strategic errors and a long battle to retake the city. Reporters on the ground in Hue saw a much different reality that the one portrayed by the brass in Saigon. That reporting led to a change in attitudes towards the war back home.
You can read an excerpt from Hue 1968 at Vanity Fair. Heat and Miami Vice director Michael Mann plans to make a 10-part TV series based on the book. Join us June 12th and be sure to like the Military.com Facebook page.