[November 13, 2018] It’s been ages since I had a library card. A few days ago, with my wife leading the way, we traveled to our local free public library. They no longer have “library cards” but instead have one of those scannable electronic tags that you hang on your keychain; much like grocery stores do. Because we were approaching Veterans Day, the librarians had set up a very nice display of books they thought would appeal to military veterans … and it did. I picked up Doug Stanton’s newest book, The Odyssey of Echo Company. I’d heard of it but never got around to putting it on my reading list. Today, as a spate of cold weather and rain settles over a large part of the country, I’m putting his book on my recommended list.
The Odyssey of Echo Company, Doug Stanton, 2017.
On January 31st, 1968 over 100,000 North Vietnamese regular soldiers along with irregular forces called Viet Cong attacked 36 cities throughout South Vietnam in a “surge” known as the Tet Offensive. Doug Stanton’s book is about one of the U.S. Infantry recon units; Echo Company, 1st Battalion (Airborne), 101st Airborne Division. This book is not about strategy or how the generals performed or even how America reacted to the battle; Stanton’s book is about the 40-man recon unit that struggled to survive at the height of the Vietnam War in its largest, most fierce battle. Stanton follows these young soldiers, now older men, as they find their reckoning with the fact that they can now talk about what happened during the two-month long battle.
Stanton focuses his narrative on one man, Stanley Parker from Gary, Indiana. He tells the story from his enlistment to his return home to a different America than what Parker knew. The complexity of the war is discussed as it affects Parker and his teammates during the many fragmented battles; where he learned to be a man and kill. The story of Parker is not that unlike many soldiers, sailors, Marines, and airmen in any war. The heartbreak and joy, the boredom and the exhilaration, and the simplicity and complexity of warfare; Parker sees it all and Stanton does a great job of capturing those sentiments from interviews, letters home, family members, and, importantly, from the battle buddies of Stanton’s.
Highly recommended book.
To go to the full Professional Reading list, simply click on this direct link: www.theleadermaker.com/reading-list/
Side Note: Please remember and take a look at Tom Copeland’s reading blog. His website, which I highly recommend, can be found here: https://militaryreadinglists.com/map