LAST STAND AT KHE SANH
by Gregg Jones
Published in 2014 by Da Capo Press.
Reviewed by Lloyd Miller.
I have read literally hundreds of volumes of military history from the French and Indians to Afghanistan but my primary emphasis has always been the Civil War and Vietnam.
Vietnam was the singular event of my generation and although I did not fight there, the histories and the lives lost, will always be part of me. My three best friends are all combat veterans and hearing their stories first hand is an adjunct to the books I’ve read, about this polarizing event in the history of our country.
Last Stand at Khe Sahn is so well documented and written, that if I had a list of all the things I’d read and rated them individually, Mr. Jones would at or near the top.
T. R. Fehrenbach was a prolific Texas historian of exceptional skill and Last Stand at Khe Sanh reminds me very much of Fehrenbach’s history of the Korean war with similar emphasis on the individuals involved and with similar skillful writing.
The fire base at Khe Sanh and the surrounding fortified hills were established in an attempt to monitor and disrupt the continuous flow of men and materials from the north along the Ho chi Min Trail in Laos and the significance of the installation was hardly lost on the North Vietnamese Army to the extent that they laid siege to Khe Sanh for months.
Mr. Jones documents the immensity of the American response down to the individual level. The amount of research that must have taken is unbelievable, but the result is a wonderfully written narrative of a group of Marines who were mostly between the ages of 18 to 25 at the time.
You do not need to be my age or have my interest in the events of those days to appreciate this excellent historical text. It reads like a novel except it happened, and it happened to an amazingly courageous bunch of kids.
This was not only the Marines Corps finest hour, it was the finest hour of an entire generation.
L. S. Miller is a Pennsylvania native and the author of the Pinnacle Award winning novel, A Death in Our Family. He is a graduate of the University of Delaware and has worked around the United States as a roofer, carpenter, architect, and construction executive. Miller now lives in the Texas Hill Country.