May 31, 2012

Book Review: The Village by Bing West

Cpl. Laura Cardoso
Desert Warrior Staff
Courtesy photo

The Village is a great book. It tells the story of 15 Marines assigned to defend a hamlet, working with about the same number of Popular Force militiamen. Of that original group, 7 are killed in the first half of the book, which was intense. As you read you learn how the Marines love their work, get along fine with the villagers, and exact an even higher toll on the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese units sent against them.

Bing West is a gifted writer. He is very descriptive and can give the reader a picture perfect image of what you are reading.

He also knows what he’s writing about because West was a platoon leader in Vietnam. He visited the village often, and he led some of the patrols he describes, though mostly the book is based on interviews with the men of the combined-action squad.

The first half reads like a novel, but real life seldom follows a plot line so they way the story is written later on changes.

When the Marines are withdrawn from Binh Nghia, the village first reverts to Viet Cong control, then is pacified as the war situation changes after the bloody battles of Tet.

West returns to the village again and again, mostly recently in 2002. He ends that visit, and this edition of the book, with a visit to a well and a shrine that the Marines had built in 1967, and that still held a plaque in their memory.

The extent to which the Marines are integrated into the village is amazing. The villagers love the Marines, inviting them over for tea and dinner, and at one point even siding with a Marine against another villager in a fight. The Marines unofficially adopt a mistreated orphan boy, and some of them learn to speak Vietnamese.

The book was not only a quick and easy read but very enjoyable and informative. It gave me a good understanding of what happened in the village.

I’m glad I had the chance to read it and I recommend it without reservation.

All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.



Sterling Global Operations completes U.S. Navy project to clear munitions, firing range and target debris from Arizona Marine Corps Air Station range

Sterling Global Operations, Inc., in a two-year project for the U.S. Navy, removed or recycled some 5.9 million pounds of munitions, firing range and target debris from Marine Corps Air Station at Yuma, Ariz. Sterling Global re...

US Army, Raytheon achieve first inflight lethal intercept of low quadrant elevation rocket

YUMA PROVING GROUND, Ariz. – Raytheon successfully intercepted and destroyed a low quadrant elevation 107mm rocket as part of the second series of guided test vehicle flight tests of the Accelerated Improved Intercept Initiative program. The intercept is a major test milestone before the U.S. Army live-fire engagements begin in September. “Beginning only 18 months...

Raytheon, U.S. Army complete first AI3 guided flight test series

Raytheon and the U.S. Army successfully completed the first guided test vehicle flight series of the Accelerated Improved Intercept Initiative program at Yuma Proving Ground, Aris. The series consisted of two flight tests against different target profiles. In each case after launch, the interceptor initially guided on in-flight radio frequency datalink updates from the fire...


New Navy vessel named after Yuma

The U.S. Navy has decided to name one of their newest Joint High-Speed Vessels after the city of Yuma, Ariz., forming an even deeper bond between the local community and our military. Political officials from the state of Arizona and the city of Yuma were informed of the decision by the Honorable Ray Mabus, Secretary...

Joint Strike Fighter on track, costs coming down, Kendall says

Indications are that the F-35 joint strike fighter program — the most expensive aviation program in Defense Department history — is on track, the undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics told a Senate panel June 19. Testifying before the Senate Appropriations Committee’s defense subcommittee this morning, Frank Kendall said the F-35 will be...

Joint Light Tactical Vehicle ‘closes capability gap,’ Army says

While the Humvee has served the Army well for some 25 years, there’s a “capability gap” in what it can do for warfighters on a 21st-century battlefield, said the Soldier responsible for overseeing its replacem...


Be the first to comment!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>