I've read a lot of Vietnam memoirs. Most are by soldiers and Marines deep in the hottest years of the war. "The Only War We've Got" by Daniel Ford gives a completely different perspective. As a young Army vet and reporter, Mr. Ford was sent to Vietnam to cover what was going on there in 1964. This book is composed of his notes and dispatches home.
He takes the reader all through South Vietnam and gives us a glimpse of military activities throughout the country at that early stage of US involvement there. He participates in a wide variety of exercises ranging from US Air Force to US Navy to US Army (conventional and Special Forces). In his time in southwest Asia, he managed to sample a wide variety of units. He also had quite a bit of interaction with the native peoples. His insight is truly fascinating. The characters he meets on his journey are too interesting to be fiction. People like this only come from real life. Meeting the advisors who were running the war prior to its escalation was a real treat to me.
As the author explains in his epilogue, his attitude and that of most of the advisors he met were very naive. That's part of the magic of this book. It's difficult to step back beyond hindsight and view things the way we did when we were young. Mr. Ford has managed to do it. This book is an important addition to Vietnam literature and military history in general. I enjoyed it a lot.
The Only War We've Got: Early Days in South Vietnam by Daniel Ford