Last Updated on June 28, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 358
We Were Soldiers Once... And Young is a nonfiction book about the Vietnam War by Joseph L. Galloway and Harold G. Moore. Moore was a battalion commander in Vietnam, and Galloway was a journalist who witnessed and recorded combat. One reason this book is so important is that these two authors don't just write from their own experiences but weave together interviews and recollections from American soldiers and Vietnamese officers to create a multilayered perspective. Specifically, the book focuses on the battle of la Drang, which was the first major battle between American and North Vietnamese troops during the war, in 1965.
Galloway and Moore recount the battle of la Drang primarily from the point of view of the American troops who fought, which allows the reader a very personal and detailed understanding of what it was actually like to be in battle. As mentioned above, the authors also go back and interview Vietnamese officers who were involved in the battle, which adds a layer of depth that is unusual for books in this genre. Also, both authors have astute political knowledge of the policies and perspectives of politicians who were making the decisions about how to engage in the Vietnam War, and analysis of these policies and decisions also plays is a role in the story. Specifically, they are critical of how President Lyndon B. Johnson began the Vietnam War and the decisions he made throughout which caused, in the authors' opinions, an incredible amount of needless bloodshed because of poor strategy and funding decisions which impacted the troops' ability to fight efficiently.
Finally, Galloway and Moore do not isolate their narrative in Vietnam. They also pay attention to the experiences of families who find out that their loved ones have died in the war and what it is like to deliver that kind of news. Overall, We Were Soldiers Once... And Young is a book that ties together multiple personal perspectives with a policy analysis that sheds light both on how decisions about the Vietnam War were made and on what it was like to be impacted by the war both on and off of the battlefield.
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