There was shooting almost every night: from across the river a seasoned Viet Cong battalion attacked repeatedly. In the village, the South Vietnamese farmers planted rice during the day and after dusk patrolled with the Marines....at the height of the Vietnam War a dozen U.S. Marines did live in the village and were generally accepted by 6,000 Vietnamese farmers." Even though West was a member of the squad he is not a part of the story. He only describes in detail the lives of the Marines as well as the village people. The Marines had built a fortified patrol in the village. This base also served as a local government for the village. The Marines and the Popular Force men patrolled together in order to secure the town. Some of the details are quite tragic in nature as some characters had to give up their lives protecting the village from the Viet Cong. Seven of the Marines and a few Popular Force men are killed during the operation.
This book is a classic study of how small unit anti-guerrillas worked in Vietnam. Anyone interested in learning the challenges that security poses in places like Iraq and Afghanistan will find the book interesting. Since West was present there to study the process in 1966 he is able to give us vivid details about the activities. He writes about “what war is like when you fight guerrillas, and of how Americans behaved when they volunteered to fight among the people. It was a bloody and intensely personal war." (Bing West) This book is a useful study on how security can be established through small-units and intense local efforts and how a network of personal relationships can be useful. Many commanders have recommended this book to their men before sending them out on missions.
Bing West is a highly gifted writer adept at giving vivid descriptions. His description of a marine with a fifty-caliber machine gun: "The drunken soldier was set now, having leaned