17 April 2015
Book review: The Village
In Black Hawk Down, the fight went on for a day. In We Were Soldiers Once & Young, the fighting lasted three days. In The Village, one Marine squad fought for 495 days—half of them died.
Few American battles have been so extended, savage and personal. A handful of Americans volunteered to live among six thousand Vietnamese, training farmers to defend their village. Such "Combined Action Platoons" (CAPs) are now a lost footnote about how the war could have been fought; only the villagers remain to bear witness. This is the story of fifteen resolute young Americans matched against two hundred Viet Cong; how a CAP lived, fought and died. And why the villagers remember them to this day
It is an amazing book - a USMC squad operating with a small local militia and the realities of living in a village amongst a people whose loyalties are divided. If you are into Vietnam Skirmish level gaming this book is a goldmine of scenarios and a 5 star must read.
The author served as a USMC Captain in Vietnam from 1966-68, later worked for RAND and became the Assistance Secretary for Defense in the Reagan administration. He is a prolific writer and has toured Iraq and Afghanistan several times over the past decade. I had the honour of meeting him this week when he spent a few hours with my small class discussing anything and everything, after which he signed my copy of the Village. An inspiring individual.