In a remote mountain stronghold in 1968, six thousand US Marines awoke one January morning to find themselves surrounded by 20,000 enemy troops. Their only road to the coast was cut, and bad weather and enemy fire threatened their fragile air lifeline. The siege of Khe Sanh—the Vietnam War's epic confrontation—was under way.
For seventy-seven days, the Marines and a contingent of US Army Special Forces endured artillery barrages, sniper fire, ground assaults, and ambushes. Air Force, Marine, and Navy pilots braved perilous flying conditions to deliver supplies, evacuate casualties, and stem the North Vietnamese Army's onslaught. As President Lyndon B. Johnson weighed the use of tactical nuclear weapons, Americans watched the shocking drama unfold on nightly newscasts. Through it all, the bloodied defenders of Khe Sanh held firm and prepared for an Alamo-like last stand.
Now, Gregg Jones takes readers into the trenches and bunkers at Khe Sanh to tell the story of this extraordinary moment in American history. Last Stand at Khe Sanh captures the exceptional courage and brotherhood that sustained the American fighting men throughout the ordeal. It brings to life an unforgettable cast of characters—young high school dropouts and rootless rebels in search of John Wayne glory; grizzled Korean War veterans; daredevil pilots; gritty platoon leaders and company commanders; and courageous Navy surgeons who volunteered to serve in combat with the storied Marines.
Drawing on in-depth interviews with siege survivors, thousands of pages of archival documents, and scores of oral history accounts, Gregg Jones delivers a poignant and heart-pounding narrative worthy of the heroic defense of Khe Sanh.
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Gregg Jones is the author of the highly acclaimed Honor in the Dust. In his thirty years as a newspaper foreign correspondent and investigative reporter, he was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and the Gerald Loeb Awards. He has reported from twenty-eight countries, writing about everything from coups and revolutions to Indonesian shadow puppetry and Thai cinema. His reporting on military affairs has included coverage of the war in Afghanistan, civil wars in Sri Lanka and Cambodia, and insurgencies in Burma, Indonesia, India, and the Philippines. He has been a staff writer at the Los Angeles Times, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and Dallas Morning News, and has been interviewed many times by CNN television and BBC radio. He lives in Texas.
"Jones spins his tale so deftly and effectively that he draws you intimately into the battle--so much so that you become emotionally engaged...feeling the loss of comrades...feeling their pain...and witnessing the horrible ways that men are torn apart...and yet sharing their exhilaration when they succeed in overcoming huge odds. The result of Jones' efforts is a classic...." - Leatherneck Magazine
"[A] well-written and superbly researched new combat narrative.... Much of this engrossing book is devoted to individual Marines and their actions amid horrific combat. Jones, however, takes readers an important step further after Khe Sanh is saved and abandoned a few months later. In a moving epilogue, readers meet up again with several defenders and learn how their battle experiences shaped their lives afterward." - The Dallas Morning News
Advance Praise for Last Stand at Khe Sanh
"Last Stand at Khe Sanh brilliantly captures the pathos of the battle and the élan of the men defending one of Vietnam's most recognizable combat bases. Gregg Jones fuses the panoramic with the visceral boots-on-the-ground view, creating an unparalleled and highly readable narrative of Khe Sanh." Patrick K. O'Donnell, bestselling author of Dog Company: The Boys of Pointe Du Hoc
"Last Stand at Khe Sanh is an enthralling tale of American courage and heroism. Gregg Jones brings to life one of the greatest battles in modern American military history, telling the story in such vivid detail and with such powerful writing that you'll find yourself wondering as you read how you would have responded to the horrific conditions faced by these soldiers. Stories of military valor from Vietnam are often overlooked, but this is a book you will always remember." Jonathan Eig, bestselling author of Luckiest Man and Opening Day
"Last Stand at Khe Sanh is a powerful and moving reminder of incomparable courage and extreme heroism in the Vietnam War." Alex Kershaw, author of the bestselling The Bedford Boys and The Longest Winter
"This is a book about what it is like to fight desperately, often at night, for your own survival. The long siege at Khe Sanh was one of the true horrors of the Vietnam War, and Gregg Jones gives it to us in all of its bloody, often hopeless, and heroic detail. Based largely on interviews with the Marines who were there, Last Stand at Khe Sanh stands as a remarkable record of what they did." S. C. Gwynne, author of Empire of the Summer Moon and Rebel Yell
"Gregg Jones captures with compelling detail and riveting prose the human drama of the US Marines' stand at Khe Sanh, one of the bloodiest, and still most controversial, of Vietnam War battles." George Herring, Alumni Professor of History Emeritus at the University of Kentucky and author of America's Longest War: The United States and Vietnam, 1950-1975
Publishers Weekly, 4/21/2014
"This informative account serves as a testament to those who 'heeded the call of their duly constituted leaders' and 'went to Vietnam with the best of intentions,' earning 'a place of honor in American history.'"
"An acclaimed journalist recounts the hell that was the siege of Khe Sanh...[A] story about a long-abandoned fire base where too many died, which makes it a story worth remembering."
Washington Independent Review of Books, 4/28/14
Jones recounts the battle with the naked honesty of the combatants who told him their stories a commanding history, so detailed it reads in places like a novel his cool, matter-of-fact approach makes the horror of the battlefield searing.”
San Francisco Books & Travel, July 2014
Gregg Jones in Last Stand at Khe Sanh has thoroughly researched the 77-day siege, and his descriptions of the day-to-day trauma for 6,000 grunts on the ground at Khe Sanh stands in stark contrast to his portraits of the headquarters folks in Saigon, Da Nang and Washington The vivid contrast is superbly drawn.”
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