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Hue 1968 Audiobook

Hue 1968: A Turning Point of the American War in Vietnam

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Publisher's Summary

Not since his New York Times best seller Black Hawk Down has Mark Bowden written a book about a battle. His most ambitious work yet, Huế 1968, is the story of the centerpiece of the Tet Offensive and a turning point in the American War in Vietnam.

By January 1968, despite an influx of half a million American troops, the fighting in Vietnam seemed to be at a stalemate. Yet General William Westmoreland, commander of American forces, announced a new phase of the war in which "the end begins to come into view". The North Vietnamese had different ideas. In mid-1967, the leadership in Hanoi had started planning an offensive intended to win the war in a single stroke. Part military action and part popular uprising, the Tet Offensive included attacks across South Vietnam, but the most dramatic and successful would be the capture of Huế, the country's cultural capital. At 2:30 a.m. on January 31, 10,000 National Liberation Front troops descended from hidden camps and surged across the city of 140,000. By morning, all of Huế was in Front hands save for two small military outposts.

The commanders in country and politicians in Washington refused to believe the size and scope of the Front's presence. Captain Chuck Meadows was ordered to lead his 160-marine Golf Company against thousands of enemy troops in the first attempt to reenter Huế later that day. After several futile and deadly days, Lieutenant Colonel Ernie Cheatham would finally come up with a strategy to retake the city, block by block and building by building, in some of the most intense urban combat since World War II.

With unprecedented access to war archives in the US and Vietnam and interviews with participants from both sides, Bowden narrates each stage of this crucial battle through multiple points of view. Played out over 24 days of terrible fighting and ultimately costing 10,000 combatant and civilian lives, the Battle of Huế was by far the bloodiest of the entire war. When it ended, the American debate was never again about winning, only about how to leave. In Huế 1968, Bowden masterfully reconstructs this pivotal moment in the American War in Vietnam.

©2017 Mark Bowden (P)2017 Audible, Inc.

What the Critics Say

"Narrator Joe Barrett's voice, always scratchy, careworn, and haggard, has just the sound this book needs to carry it forward. He sounds like an old boot and offers no quarter when detailing the battle's ravages, both in terms of men and American strategy." (AudioFile)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.5 (520 )
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4.4 (486 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Michael Silver Spring, MD, United States 07-22-17
    Michael Silver Spring, MD, United States 07-22-17 Member Since 2014
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    "Excellent history"

    A compelling, thoroughly researched account of the bitterness battle of the Vietnam war told from the viewpoint of those who fought on both sides.

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Bee Keeper OGDEN, UT, United States 07-28-17
    Bee Keeper OGDEN, UT, United States 07-28-17 Member Since 2016
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    "I KNEW This Book Would Sting Me . . . ."
    What did you love best about Hue 1968?

    Joe Barrett is a top shelf narrator, particularly with this genre of literature.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    General Westmoreland I suppose only because he was such a common thread in this well crafted tapestry, and while I was in country 1966, Chesty Westy was my commander. I am happy that his faults and lies were portrayed as well as his grand image.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    The early morning breakout to the hills, being one of the three options the torn up and surrounded battalion came up with for ex-filtration. The men "Would rather die trying to live" instead of waiting to be over run.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    As much as I could, yes.


    Any additional comments?

    . . . . and yet I clicked on play anyway. I was in 3rd Corps, Republic of South Vietnam for Tet 1966, assigned along with 11 other American pilots, crew chiefs, radio men and advisers to ARVN forces at Duc Hoa, Southeast of Siagon. The night sky lit up with tracers and my first reaction was that we were being over run. Not so, I was told by Captain Tompkins. It was Tet and this was their fireworks celebration. We lived in a pagoda next to a PSP air strip. Capt. Tompkins made me sleep on the top bunk with a flak jacket on. Tet 1968 became the talk of the base at Ft Stewart Georgia where I was assigned as a flight instructor. Then, I was still a believer and could not distinguish lies from fact.I want to say that I am angry in my old age because of the lack of moral values by LBJ and his posse in the 60's and 70's but it is something else. Hindsight makes me sorrowful over their misleading our country and the families of the 58,000+ that sacrificed their lives so that I could purchase a bag of frozen prawns at Costco labeled "Product of Vietnam". You have heard the debate about "Blood for Oil"? Well my war was evidently "Blood for Shrimp"!

    My mother was a gifted artist when I left for MACV and she never painted again. I am told she spent the year on the sofa chewing ice cubes while watching the news. She even wrote the President asking why her son was fighting in that conflict.So even though I was an Army officer and pilot who lived in relative security while not involved in operations, the story lines here rang true as I handled many radio calls for medivac, air support, artillery and resupply. Until this week, I was naive as to the horrific battle at Hue, thinking that the battle of Ia Drang Valley in November of 1965 when I had been in country just 4 months was as bad as it got. It would be wrong to say that I enjoyed the book, however it did rivet my attention for 3 days and recalled many memories that had lain un-visited for decades.

    I did not know many Marines over there as I was Army. However, I "knew" many of the characters in this book. The author took great care to be graphic . . . . to fill a reader's consciousness with the feel, sight, touch, sounds and smells of close quarter battle. I am sure Mr. Bowden took some "literary license" in portraying many of these Marines thoughts and feelings, but they did ring true for the most part. I have mixed feelings about the scene where the Vietnamese woman came to a dirty and battle weary squad of Marines wishing to trade sex for C rations. I suppose it happened, but I never heard of anything quite like that. In its own way, it was tender, and a damn sight better that men just forcing themselves on civilian women.

    So if this is what you want, if you are curious as to why so many who came back from this "conflict" only to discover they can never quite get all the way back, then this book is for you. For me, I probably will not open it again. It was well done for sure, and I did learn a lot from it that I had not previously internalized about our . . . . my involvement in Vietnam. I believe Daniel Ellsberg was heroic in his actions and saved tens of thousands of lives. I believe General Westmoreland was the reverse of Andersen's "The Emperor's New Clothes". Rather than the crowd wanting to exclaim "Look, the Emperor has no clothes", it could have been said of Westmoreland, "Look, the uniform has no general".

    24 of 26 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Robert Morler REDONDO BEACH, CALIFORNIA, US 08-10-17
    Robert Morler REDONDO BEACH, CALIFORNIA, US 08-10-17 Member Since 2017
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    "Too long!"

    Too much personal interest reporting .
    Did not like narrators voice. Barely kept me interested enough to finish it

    2 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kevin Warren Nashville, TN 08-08-17
    Kevin Warren Nashville, TN 08-08-17 Member Since 2017
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    "Worth reading/listening but a little off"
    What does Joe Barrett bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    At first the book as a whole didn't sit well with me (see additional comments) and I felt on top of that I was getting the story from Andy Rooney. It did bother me less as the book went on.


    Was Hue 1968 worth the listening time?

    Yes. I found the early parts of the book a bit of a struggle but ultimately it was worth the listen.


    Any additional comments?

    I can't quite put my finger on what I didn't like about this book. There was something about the author that struck me as though he was doing his best not to gush over the NVA/VC and his love for Uncle Ho. There was a lack of balance (perhaps born out of lack of information) in the criticisms of the US & (A)RVN forces, the NVA/VC, and the higher political policies of both sides. I got tired of hearing the same criticisms of Westmoreland over and over, how great and honest the press was, and in places how inept or morally bankrupt US soldiers were. It wasn't Jane Fonda level but it was noticeable. The book did end up getting more balanced as it went on but I considered not finishing it about an hour or two in. Nevertheless I am glad I purchased and completed it.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Samuel 08-05-17
    Samuel 08-05-17
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Terrible narration"

    Terrible voice. Boring voice. Hard to focus on story. Please rerecord this book with a better narrator

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Texas Ranger 07-23-17
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A DIFFICULT LISTEN"
    Would you consider the audio edition of Hue 1968 to be better than the print version?

    Great book, incredible story, suffers from the raspy and uninterested voice of the narrator.


    What did you like best about this story?

    The telling from multiple perspectives.


    Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Joe Barrett?

    Anyone!


    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    CRG2 07-12-17
    CRG2 07-12-17
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Mark Bowden Never Disappoints"

    Only 20 minutes into this and you realize you're in the hands of a master storyteller. Bowden opens this monumental narrative in the autumn of 1967 with the story of a young Vietnamese woman living a double life: By day, she's a pretty farmer's daughter in wearing ao dai and selling snail hats from her bicycle. By night, she's a soldier in an elite NLF unit, doing reconnaissance on the American and South Vietnamese enemies, and getting ready for an epic battle looming on the horizon: The Tet Offensive.

    I haven't yet finished the book but after careening through the first hour, totally engrossed, I just knew that Bowden had hit it out of the park once again. If you like his other books, such as Black Hawk Down or Killing Pablo, you will not be disappointed. I am glad he decided to take on the subject of the Vietnam War; there are few contemporary nonfiction writers out there capable of doing it justice. Bowden is one of them; in fact, he could be considered one of the greatest living writers of nonfiction today. I can't recommend this book highly enough.

    12 of 15 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Fred 08-01-17
    Fred 08-01-17
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Great book"

    Probably the best book on Vietnam I've listened to. It described to overall brutality of the war. I highly recommend it.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dave 07-25-17
    Dave 07-25-17 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Unable to listen to this book"
    What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

    Different narrator


    Would you ever listen to anything by Mark Bowden again?

    Absolutely


    How did the narrator detract from the book?

    He's a "hisser", I'm extremely disappointed because Mark Bowden is the best historical story teller of our time and Mr. Barret's speech made it unbearable to listen to.


    Any additional comments?

    I'll have to buy the book in hard cover and read it.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    David T. Gato 10-17-17
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Real Vietnam War History"

    Simply a great narrative told by the warriors who fought and died for their comrades.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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  • Stephen White
    8/2/17
    Overall
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    "Outstanding Military History"
    What did you like most about Hue 1968?

    Until I read Mark Bowden's outstanding Hue - 1968, I hadn't really appreciated the significance of Tet and Hue as a turning point in the Vietnam war. This is military history at its best, combining detailed research with clear, objective and compelling analysis. In other contexts, the level of detail would be confusing but Hue was such a complex and fragmented battle that Bowden is able to assemble all the disparate elements into a coherent narrative. It is only in the detail that you see the disconnect between the higher levels of command on both sides and the tactical actions on the ground. Bowden is balanced and objective about the significant failure of US generalship at theatre commander and formation level and his indictment of Westmorland, LaHue and Tolson in particular is salutary. In Bowden's view, the indictment is not just of incompetence but of wilful and arrogant self-delusion, which they translated into unrealistic and bombastic orders which got a large number of their subordinates killed and wounded in futile attacks. Bowden's review of the military-strategic and political context is also compelling but is more familiar territory. His judgment that the Press reporting was accurate, objective and in the public interest contrasts starkly with the popular misconception in the US that the Press unfairly influenced the US people to turn against the war. This book is definitive and a landmark in the literature of Vietnam, standing with the handful of books which provide real and original insight into a tragic and misdirected war.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Hue 1968?

    Bowden's account of the shock and impact of the initial Front assault on Hue and shock and disbelief it achieved amongst the US troops. His account of the early defence of the MACV compound in Hue is memorable. His later portrayal of street fighting to recover the Triangle brings to life urban combat and we see a privileged view of what it was like for both sides and for the civilians caught up in the fighting.


    What does Joe Barrett bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

    Joe Barrett is masterful. He narrates with real understanding and sympathy for the subject, avoids melodrama, has an engaging and lively voice which draws you to the narrative and keeps your attention. You really feel his deep engagement with the personalities involved and this creates an impression of intimacy which is the strength of the audiobook format. One of the best and in stark contrast to the narrators of other audio books who have little understanding of or sympathy with their subject and an inflated view of their thespian abilities. Joe Barratt avoids both traps and is a master of his craft.


    Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    It's military history. I read it with objective and detached interest. That said, Mark Bowden has interviewed many of the personalities in the book and has an obvious rapport with them which translates into many moving and human passages.


    Any additional comments?

    A fine book and one that particularly suits the audio format. Thank you to Mark Bowden and Joe Barrett for many hours well spent listening to their words.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Mr C T Walsh
    7/27/17
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    "Very insightful book"

    Not the usual gung ho rubbish. This book attempts to tell the story from different sides. it felt like very balanced tale, and gripping too.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Jonathan Lowenstein
    10/8/17
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "A thriller but exposes Audible problems"

    REads like a thriller, especially in the first half.
    The Audible version is missing the maps, references and pictures. The chapters are listed as 1-56 instead of part 1 "name", chapter 1 "name", chapter 2 "name" and then PArt 2 etc. So its harder to understand where you are if there is a problem or get an overview of the book from its chapter list. Also there is an advantage to seeing names in print. It kind of needs a written reference section. I know some books have them but I didn't see one.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • John
    8/28/17
    Overall
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    Story
    "Good but could have been better."

    A massive tomb and an epic listen, whilst rich in detail seemed to concentrate on the
    trauma of war without providing pause for reflection or insight into lessons learned.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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