Siege in the Clouds
by Eric Hammel
From critcally acclaimed military historian Eric Hammel comes a vivid oral history account of the Tet 1968 siege of the Khe Sanh Combat Base. The words of American fighting men caught up in the grueling, deadly seventy-seven-day ordeal create a harrowing tapestry of tragedy and triumph.
As two North Vietnamese Army divisions move to surround them, the vastly outnumbered U.S. Marines rush to strengthen their defenses at the isolated base and several nearby hilltop positions. The Communist forces repeatedly attack, are repeatedly repelled, and then dig in to take the American base by siege–the makings of a classic, modern “set-piece” strategy in which the defenders become bait to tie the attackers to fixed positions in which they can be pummeled and pulverized by American artillery and air support.
Khe Sanh: Siege in the Clouds is a ground-breaking step forward in the oral history genre. This gripping–and moving–narrative flows from the masterfully woven threads provided by nearly a hundred men who gallantly endured the wrenching all-out struggle to hold the combat base and its vulnerable outlying positions.
PRAISE FOR KHE SANH: Siege in the Clouds and Eric Hammel
A harrowing, gut-level record of the Vietnam War’s Khe Sanh Campaign . . . a vivid, day-by-day log. . . . Hammel conveys the ironies as well as the horrors of the protracted engagement. ——Kirkus Reviews
A remarkably accurate account of a crucial 77-day battle . . . Khe Sanh: Siege in the Clouds is retold as an oral history by the men who fought in it, which gives the account not only a vividness and immediacy but a human perspective so many other war analyses are missing. ——Playboy
The author sets the stage for this epic battle, but then turns the narrative over to the vivid accounts of nearly 100 individuals who survived. The accounts cover all the bases—from privates in foxholes, to cooks, chaplains, and the commanding generals. . . . A masterful telling of history. ——Air Force Magazine
The story of the thankless siege is told in this vivid oral history by nearly 100 articulate survivors, mostly U.S. Marines, who convey the frustration experienced by men trained for aggressive mobile warfare forced for the most part to huddle inside a crowded perimeter. ——Publishers Weekly
Hammel’s book captures the full flavor of day-to-day life and death that was Khe Sanh. ——Marine Corps Gazette
Hammel’s ability to reveal both the immediacy and the humanity of war without judgment or bias makes all his books both readable and scholarly. With Khe Sanh: Siege in the Clouds, he elevates the standards of oral history as well. ——San Francisco Chronicle