Essential Listening (audible books)

Possibly, but although many call it the tipping point, it was but one battle. The Viet Minh were brutally determined and the French were not going to hold Indochina any more than the British held India, IMHO. The United States might have just entered the conflict sooner.

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Agreed. Throughout the book so far, Hastings has made it abundantly clear that the Viet Minh had the advantage of covering up their losses…as well as the peasant military being extremely resilient to the environmental duress. He describes the Viet Minh hauling artillery up muddy slopes using winches and manpower…sometimes only making a few hundred yards a day. Against that kind of human will and sacrifice, it is hard to make gains even with a technological advantage. Hastings indicated that Giap was not always an “all in” player though…and that he was pretty savvy with recognizing when he had pushed his forces too hard. There were several instances in the book where he did not attack because he felt the moment was not right and other instances where he felt that troop morale would not support the objectives.

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Still working through the Max Hastings audiobook. I think I’m on about section 65 of 75 or so. It has been an incredible listen…

Currently at the part toward the end of the Vietnam War where “Vietnamization” is being attempted - which leads into the tragedy of Operation Lam Son 719. After listening to the stories, I ventured online and found this excellent documentary about parts of the operation. It is such a reminder that warfare, though sometimes necessary…really is not glamorous at all. It is tragic. And so much is lost. A fantastic bit of history here:


Ain’t that the truth.

I was talking about movies the other night with my wife. We both loathe standard horror fare (It, hellraiser, that kind of thing).

Her reason for dislike was simple: she hates being scared, real life is plenty scary for her. She rather sees movies where all is mostly fine and dandy. Downtown Abbey.

Me I love a good thrill. I like feeling danger. But why not horror movies? Well mostly because I fond them dumb. I can’t believe in demons from another dimension.

But I cam believe in the horrors of war. And suddenly I understood my fascination with war movies, games and books a whole lot better. They scare me!


Finished Vietnam: An Epic Tragedy on my ride home from Jekyll Island yesterday. What a fantastic month of listening. I was already a pretty well read Vietnam-era book junkie, but some of the research and compiling Hastings did was very well presented. The conclusions were very interesting, but probably not worth discussing here since they are so political and damning.

Started Hell in a Very Small Place this morning. Already fascinated with the descriptions of the initial para-drop into the valley by French and South Vietnamese paratroopers. The author paints a very descriptive picture of those chutes blossoming out and falling into the dry mist of the valley… Sounds beautiful. But we all know what is coming…


Listening to Hell in A Very Small Place. First off…published in 1966…which would make it seem a cautionary tale for all that would follow on. It is so insightful. In the way that I feel anyone who ventures into Afghanistan should read Stephen Coll’s “Ghost Wars”, I wonder how many decision makers read Fall’s book.

My favorite part so far - Henri Navarre’s subordinates later gave him a gift in a beautiful, polished wood box - a loaded pistol. Alluding that he should kill himself as a good commander should have gone down with the ship as it were.



Continue to be fascinated and horrified by the descriptions of the logistical nightmares of creating an air supplied “mooring point”. The tonnage of material to have properly built bunkers and fighting positions capable of withstanding 155mm Howitzer shelling (the accepted standard) was simply beyond the capability of the airlift capacity. The book goes through the calculations by the French logistics commander it it would have required something like 18,000 C-47 flights. Thus, most of the positions were made of commandeered wood from the village of Dien Bien Phu, and the wood cutting parties that went out to the perimeter to procure more wood were savaged by the Viet Minh.

One of the more amazing feats was the airdropping of brand new M24 tanks in pieces by disassembling them into 180 pieces in Hanoi, then dropping them and reassembling them in Dien Bien Phu.

In order to transport the largest pieces, the French had to borrow Bristol 170 Freighter planes from Air Vietnam – these were the largest planes, capable of landing at Dien Bien Phu. In the end however, it turned out that even so, the hull of the Chaffee was 150kg heavier than what the Freighter could carry – in order to actually fly over the mountains in the Tonkin region, the plane was stripped of all the unnecessary parts.

The descriptions of the patrols and hacking through the elephant grass and jungles are…well…brutal.


Hmm…wife is putting up the Christmas Village. Think I can get her to replicate the layout of Dien Bien Phu?

“Honey…you will really need more elves at Eliane…and those reindeer need to be hitched to the 105s to tow them into those pits in the snow over there…”



Yeah, I’m going to have to give it another listen. The great thing about middle-age, is that you can recycle your audible library every couple of years, and for most titles, it’s like a first time listen. :smiley: Just listened to Kevin Millers, Fight Fight again, and it had me in tears in a few places.


Like when the female ensign, who has been skippering the Cape Esperance after most of the crew is slimed, finally relinquishes her command. Great Book, IMO.


I’m listening to Pirate Latitudes by Michael Crichton.

It is terrible. LOL. I’m so far into it though I can’t stop. It is written as though Crichton thought it would go straight to a movie. You have to ride along on some…wave of hands…advance the plot moments. It is truly terrible.

You’ve been warned.

Aaaaaargh… :pirate_flag:

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I read that one soon after its publication, having been a huge fan throughout his wonderful career as an author.

There is a reason that one didn’t get published until after his death.

It’s rubbish. As are all the other books they’ve slapped his name on and released posthumously.


To contribute, the Kevin Miller audiobooks are an excellent listen; I really enjoyed Raven One, especially in conjunction with the campaign in DCS, I felt like I was there!


This past week or so I’ve been listening to Run the Storm by George Michelsen Foy - a very well researched and presented dissection of the 2015 loss of the cargo ship El Faro during hurricane Joaquin. Interesting in that the El Faro had something similar to a “CVR” onboard (a VDR) so the final 26 hours of bridge audio was retrieved by the NTSB, giving some accurate insights into what was going on and helping establish some of the thoughts of the crew. The audiobook is well read and paced…very enjoyable.


If you haven’t read “Travels” - that is a great auto-biographical book by him that really has some great stories within. The aura stuff might have sailed past me a bit (I’ll have to reread it)…but I enjoyed a lot of the other stories within.

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about halfway through Battlefield Ukraine … so far not bad, bit like a modernised, budget version of Red storm rising.


I know that we have a What are you reading right now topic, but I just finished an audible book that was so good, I thought it worthy of special mention. Undoubtedly most of us have seen the film Bat 21, which was based on William C. Anderson’s book of the same name. This is another, more factual account of the rescue of a downed aviator which took place during the NVA invasion of South Vietnam in 1972. The movie, though having the blessings of evading EB-66C navigator, Ltc. Gene Hambleton, strayed pretty far from actual events. Stephen Talty’s, Saving Bravo: The Greatest Rescue Mission in Navy SEAL History, attempts to not only get the story right, but details the events following the rescue and its impact on family members of airman lost during Hambleton’s rescue.

US Navy SEAL, Tommy Norris and Vietnamese Navy commando, Nguyễn Văn Kiệt, the author described as men who “carried an AK-47 in one hand and their balls in another”, attempt the rescue against seemingly insurmountable odds.

Lastly, the books is masterfully delivered by Henry Strozier, who although new to me, reads the book as well as any narrator I’ve heard. I swear that there are a few times during the concluding chapters when he seems to be unsuccessfully holding back tears.


I really recommend these audio books. The guy who does the reading is fantastic.