A Los Angeles Times Book Prize Finalist in History

One of the Wall Street Journal's top 10 nonfiction books of 2017, one of the Washington Post's 50 notable works of nonfiction in 2017, an Amazon top 100 book of the year, one of the Christian Science Monitor's best 30 books of 2017,  an ALA notable book of the year, a Philadelphia InquirerMilitary Times, Kirkus Reviews, Hudson Booksellers, and Chicago Public Library best book of the year, and a GoodReads Choice Award Best History First Round pick

Longlisted for the 2017 Andrew Carnegie Medal for excellence in nonfiction

 

“An extraordinary feat of journalism . . . Through his scrupulous day-by-day reconstruction of this battle, Bowden encapsulates the essential lessons of the Vietnam War . . . Hue 1968 is also an exploration of what is common to all wars: humankind’s capacity for violence, cruelty, self-sacrifice, bravery, cowardice and love. Mr. Bowden undertakes this task with the talent and sensibility of a master journalist who is also a humanist and an honest man . . . the book is full of emotion and color . . . You will find the reading gripping.”

—Karl Marlantes, Wall Street Journal

“[A] magnificent and meticulous history, which tells, with excruciating detail, a story that is both inspiring and infuriating . . . Bowden’s interviews, almost half a century on, with those who fought on both sides, have produced unexampled descriptions of small-unit combat.”—George F. Will, Washington Post

“A remarkable book.”—Dave Davies, NPR’s Fresh Air

“Mark Bowden’s book Hue 1968 is a must-read. Many lessons, including how government can lie and [the] role of an effective media in finding truth. Timely.”Michael Morell, former acting director of the CIA

“Searing . . . Bowden revisits the historic battle with the same character-driven, grunt-level reporting style that made Black Hawk Down a bestseller. He lends a sympathetic ear to surviving soldiers on both sides, as well as guerrillas and civilians, and gives a vivid account of courage and cowardice, heroism and slaughter”

—Bob Drogin, Los Angeles Times

“A masterful blood-and-guts account of the decisive battle in the Vietnam War . . . The heart and soul of Hue 1968 lies with its vivid and often wrenching descriptions of the ‘storm of war’ as soldiers and South Vietnamese citizens experienced it.”—Glenn C. Altschuler, Minneapolis Star Tribune

“Bowden’s excellent Hue 1968 . . . gives us the clearest picture yet of what happened in Vietnam.”USA Today, four out of four stars 

“Bowden . . . applies his signature blend of deep reportage and character-driven storytelling to bring readers a fresh look at the 1968 battle in the Vietnamese city of Hue . . . [A] compelling and highly readable narrative . . . A meticulous and vivid retelling of an important battle.”—Linda Robinson, New York Times Book Review

“A relentlessly immediate chronicle of the bloody, month-long centerpiece of the Tet Offensive . . . This is the definitive account of a turning point in America's Vietnam strategy and in public opinion about the war .”Wall Street Journal, "Top 10 nonfiction books of 2017"

“An engrossing, fair-minded, up-close account of one of the great battles in the long struggle for Vietnam.”Washington Post, "50 notable works of nonfiction in 2017"

“[A] skillful, gripping account of the turning point of the Vietnam War.”Christian Science Monitor, "30 best books of 2017"

“[A] compelling, meticulously researched work.”Philadelphia Inquirer, "best books of 2017"

“A detailed, multifaceted account.”—Tirdad Derakhsani, Philadelphia Inquirer

“Bowden is one of the great journalists of our generation, and with this book he provides a captivating account of the pivotal battle that did so much to alter the trajectories of not just the Vietnam War, but also American politics and our nation’s global posture. With its capacious research that includes the perspectives of combatants and civilians, Vietnamese and Americans, presidents and privates, it epitomizes what a definitive account should be.”—Foreign Policy

 

“For readers who enjoy learning about battle tactics and bloody encounters, Bowden delivers, as he did in Black Hawk Down. The book offers so much more than that, however. For readers who care little about military strategy or precisely how each combatant died, Bowden offers copious context about why it matters what occurred in Vietnam at the beginning of 1968—why it mattered so much then, and why it matters so much in 2017 . . . Bowden is masterful in introducing characters whose names have often never appeared in the news but whose actions help explain the complications for the United States of becoming involved in faraway wars involving nearly invisible enemies.”—Steve Weinberg, Philadelphia Inquirer

 

“Dazzling . . . Bowden’s account of the battle delivers gut punches from start to finish . . . Most impressive of all, Bowden deftly blends clear descriptions of complex troop movements with careful attention to the human impact of the fighting . . . Bowden deserves enormous credit for calling new attention to an often-overlooked battle and especially for recovering the experiences of those who fought amid otherworldly horrors.”—Mark Atwood Lawrence, Boston Globe

“A powerful account of a critical battle in Vietnam . . . Bowden’s attention to detail is flawless . . . This kind of fine-tuned detail—and sense of mystery—is the soul of a good historical account . . . Hue 1968 carries a sense of immediacy. The Korean nuclear crisis, and western involvement in the conflicts of the Middle East, make this battle as relevant now as it was nearly 50 years ago. The book is a powerful portrayal of what happens when America’s Battlestar Galactica military might is applied to a conflict without any accompanying political solution. The book is a mighty piece of work, and as fine an account of a battle as you will likely read. Hell, I wish I had written it.”—Anthony Loyd, Times (UK)

 

“I am still recovering from the astonishment and appreciation of the reporting and writing in Mark Bowden's latest book: Hue 1968, a story of a single battle that encompassed so much of what occurred in that epic year of our history.”—Mike Barnicle, Politico

Hue 1968 will enthrall anyone with a serious interest in the Vietnam War and in military history from the bottom up.”—A. Roger Ekirch, Wall Street Journal, "What to Give: Books on History"

Hue 1968 pulls off a rare feat: it takes a conflict of terrible scale and consequence, and allows us to see it unfold at the street level, through the eyes of Vietnamese and American soldiers engaged in the struggle, journalists and activists observing the chaos, and the civilians caught in the crossfire . . . His emphasis on firsthand accounts gives a vital heart to the unfolding events . . . Not only are the personal stories Bowden uncovers at turns deeply moving and horrifying, but they also pose uncomfortable parallels with current events in the Middle East and Afghanistan.”—Sebastien Roblin, National Interest

Bowden interviewed people on both sides, to great effect, and weaves a dense but compelling narrative about a battle that was a microcosm of the entire conflict.”—Alex Prud'homme, Omnivoracious, favorite reads of 2017

“An extraordinary account of the most important

and costly battle of the Vietnam War.”

—Don McCullin, legendary photojournalist who covered the Battle of Hue

“In this meticulous retelling of one critical battle, Mark Bowden captures the nuanced and often invisible threads of America's political, military and cultural blindness in Vietnam. Hue 1968 is the new classic about America's Vietnam War.”

—Elizabeth Becker, author of When the War Was Over:

Cambodia and the Khmer Rouge Revolution

“A stirring history of the 1968 battle that definitively turned the Vietnam War into an American defeat . . . Building on portraits of combatants on all sides, Bowden delivers an anecdotally rich, careful account of the complex campaign to take the city. One of the best books on a single action in Vietnam, written by a tough, seasoned journalist who brings the events of a half-century past into sharp relief.”

Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“An epic masterpiece of heroism and sacrifice, and a testament to the tragic futility of the American experience in Vietnam.”
Booklist (starred review)

“An unsparing look at the Vietnam War and how it changed America . . . Bowden lays bare the gut-wrenching brutality of the nearly month-long fight for ancient Hue between american forces and the North Vietnamese and Viet Cong.”—Monte Whaley, Denver Post, "Staff pick"


“Excellent.”—Washington Times
 

“[A] master storyteller.”—John David, Decatur Daily

“The most authoritative history of the battle.”Politico

“Thoroughly researched, this epic chronicle takes the reader back to a time when America still saw itself as invincibleand acted that way . . . fast-paced . . . A powerful piece of journalism.”—David Kindy, Providence Journal

“An outstanding work of reportage and storytelling.”—Paul Davis, Washington Times


“In his monumental new book, Bowden . . . gives voice to dozens, including Nguyen Quang Ha, whose five-man team emerged from underground caves to strike the first blow for North Vietnamese forces, Bob Thompson, a career marine officer charged with taking back the US stronghold at the Citadel, President Lyndon Johnson and General William Westmoreland in Washington, DC and reporters David Halberstam, Michael Herr, Gene Roberts, Walter Cronkite and others who changed the way Americans perceived the war.”

—Jane Ciabattari, BBC.com
 

“An instantly recognizable classic of military history . . . Bowden tells this story with a power and a wealth of detail that no previous history of this offensive has approached.”—Steve Donoghue, Christian Science Monitor

 

“A gripping, and timely, history . . . powerful . . . [Hue 1968] is likely to claim a place on the shelf of essential books about the Vietnam War. Based on hundreds of interviews, news accounts, histories and military archives, the book combines intensive research with Bowden's propulsive narrative style and insightful analysis . . . What sets Bowden's account of the battle apart is his skill at moving from the macro—the history of the war, the politics surrounding it, the tactics of the battle—to the micro: the individuals, American and Vietnamese, who fought it and tried to survive it.”—Colette Bancroft, Tampa Bay Times

 

“Nearly 50 years after the battle for the city of Hue, this history reads as fresh as today’s news . . . every page merits reading.”Military Times

“The best history of the battle for Vietnam's imperial city of Hue.”—William D. Bushnell, Military Officer Magazine

 

“This Vietnam story reads like a movie but it’s all true.”Courier-Journal (Louisville)

 

“The definitive history of the battle for Hue . . . It is a riveting account, certain to become a motion picture, of valor, heroism, rank foolhardiness, and unshakable camaraderie . . . More than anything,  Hue 1968 is the story of the entire Vietnam War in microcosm.”—Michael M. Rosen, Claremont Review of Books


Hue 1968 unravels one of the great mysteries of our time—how a puny force of North Vietnam regulars and local sympathizers could without warning occupy South Vietnam's second largest city, hold it for a month, then disappear into the mountains, beyond reach and largely unbloodied. It turns out the force wasn't puny, but fanatical warriors who gripped their prey by the throat and wouldn't let go. They were unfazed by waves of counter-attackers, Vietnamese and American soldiers, but mostly Marines rushed in to defeat them. Hue 1968 shows the enormous challenges facing both sides and how they overcame them, or tried to. Did the Battle of Hue end up as a victory or defeat? The answer depends on who's asking and who's telling. Bowden takes on both roles and does it well.”

—Lieutenant Colonel Charles A. Krohn (ret.), author of The Lost Battalion of Tet

Hue 1968 is, by far, the most comprehensive (and balanced) coverage on this battle I've seen. Like never before, I've come to realize how narrow a perspective we low-level participants unavoidably had. While giving due respect to the abilities, actions and fighting spirit of the U.S. and ARVN Marines and soldiers who participated, Mark Bowden brought clarity to the larger intelligence, political and strategic shortcomings that made the prosecution of this battle so much more challenging and costly than it needed to be.”

—Brigadier General Mike Downs, USMC (ret.)

“The longest and fiercest fighting of the Tet Offensive took place in and around Hue in early 1968 where Communist North Vietnam suffered a terrible military defeat. Yet the fight for Hue became a political victory for the leaders of North Vietnam and a turning point for US involvement and support for the war. Through searing personal accounts of many on both sides who were there, Mark Bowden reveals the intensity of the fighting. Relying on archival documents now available after 50 years, he also examines the considerations and decisions of political and military leaders at the highest levels. This book is a tragic tale of misunderstanding but also one of great heroism and sacrifice by those who fought in the streets of 
Hue and in the nearby rice paddies and villages.”

—Brigadier General Howard T. Prince II, USA (ret.),

Commanding Officer, Bravo Company, 5/7 Cavalry, 1968


“In Hue 1968, Mark Bowden has clearly captured the nastiness, brutality and savagery of urban combat as seen through the eyes of those who found themselves in a daily personal fight for survival on the streets of that embattled city. He has extensively researched the Battle of Hue and interviewed the combatants from both sides who fought it. He has also captured the first-hand experiences of the journalists who closely covered the weeks of fighting that it would take to recapture the city. Equally, he has not forgotten about the Vietnamese civilians who suffered the destructive loss and regaining of their historic city. The book is a must-read for the military professional and their civilian leaders who send them in harm’s way. Not for the squeamish, the book does not glorify war, but honestly describes the reality of two opponents battling one another at close quarters.

Most importantly, it reminds those in authority of the reality of combat

when they send their sons and daughters off to war.”

—Lieutenant General Ron Christmas, USMC (ret.),

Former President & CEO, Marine Corps Heritage Foundation

“Mark Bowden uniquely describes the battle from both sides of the front lines and vividly captures the remarkable courage and valor of those that participated in the crucible of war that was Hue City in January to March 1968. Surely to be an historical standard for the recollection of that Tet 1968 battle.”

—Colonel Chuck Meadows, USMC (ret.),

Former Commanding Officer of Golf Company 2ndBn 5thMar

“I am a US Marine Vietnam veteran who participated as a tank crewmen in the Tet 1968 battle for Hue City. I have read just about every written account of the month-long battle, and I have to say that all of the other well-written, well-documented accounts of the battle pale in comparison to Mark Bowden’s Hue 1968. There is no more complete, accurate and detailed book. It reads like a novel even though is it made up almost exclusively of very personal accounts.”

—John Wear, president of the USMC Vietnam Tankers Association

“A masterpiece of intensely dramatic nonfiction . . . The brilliance of Bowden’s narrative, the achievement of interviewing hundreds of people on all sides and making the foundation their human stories, is why Hue 1968 rises to
the emotional power and universality of For Whom The Bell Tolls and All Quiet On The Western Front.”—Michael Mann

Praise