Friday, August 30, 2013

Review of Semper Fi Vietnam by Edward F. Murphy

Title:  Semper Fi Vietnam:  From Da Nang to the DMZ, Marine Corps Campaigns, 1965-1975
Author:  Edward F. Murphy
Publisher:  Presidio Press
Copyright:  1997
Price:  $7.99 US

Semper Fi Vietnam is part of my summer reading.  I just finished the book today.  The book chronicles the US Marine Corps' involvement in South Vietnam from the initial deployment at Da Nang in 1965 to the final US embassy evacuation in April 1975.  The book's chapters are organized by year. 

Even though I was born during the Vietnam War, I feel like I lived through this conflict after my constant reading about it.  The book is filled with endless recon patrols, firefights, LZs, and VC/NVA ambushes.  I have more ideas for war gaming this conflict than I can recall.  Semper Fi Vietnam is written as part combat history/part unit campaigns.  The author focuses on unit participation and the officer who commanded them. 

Take it for what it's worth.  I've enjoyed books written at the squad/platoon level than reading divisional campaign histories.  The unit history is interesting.  But it doesn't necessarily convoy the daily grind of combat operations.  I'd rather have a first person account than reading about a particular event third person.  Murphy handles the campaign history admirably.  But Vietnam was fought at a squad/platoon/company level.  However, I do have a better appreciation of the battles for Khe Sahn, the DMZ, and Hue now. 

At a more practical level, I have a better idea of what my father's generation went through in the 1960s.  The whole subject of Vietnam was a heated topic.  I had a vague understanding of the conflict when I was youngster.  It's only as a adult do have a truer picture what actually happened.  That's one of the reasons I've spent the past several years reading unit histories written by actual combatants.  I feel I owe it to my former mentors who served in country about why the US fought and lost the war.  And also have a better idea how to run a proper Vietnam war game when I do get around to gaming it next year.

But I still have three more books on the Vietnam war to read this year, namely Rolling Thunder in a Gentle Land, Everything We Had, and Khe Sahn:  The Hill Fights.  I'll write more book reviews on the blog as I finish them.

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