War in the Central Highlands of Vietnam 1968-1970

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This book is a unique study of the Vietnam War that is best called a “memograph” because it combines both the skills and methods of the formal historical monograph with those of the memoirist. Through its monographic lens, this book sheds new light on many important aspects of the Vietnam War. Among those new views are the strategic and tactical changes in the war created by the Tet Offensive, and the unique use of the draft to create the “Vietnam Only Army.” Also, America’s willingness to use nuclear and chemical warfare in Vietnam are presented in the context of our current concern with weapons of mass destruction.

Through its memoir lens, the book shows the ways in which those kinds of issues and policies played out in the lives of the men who fought in Vietnam. Through the combination of these methods, the reader is taken through the training process for conscripts, to the false hope of avoiding Vietnam offered by the Vietnamization process and on to the various level of the war. Once the reader arrives in Vietnam, the memoir format, based on primary sources like “After Action Reports” and “Chronologies of Significant Events,” presents personal perspectives on how the war was fought. Thus, one travels from the air war to the ground war, and also to the war in the ground. This last view is also unique because it is the viewpoint of the rarely acknowledged men who fought in labyrinths beyond the ones covered in Thomas Manfold and John Pennycake’s treatment of tunnel warfare.


“ ... I am honored to be asked by Dr. James Gillam to write an introduction to his wartime memoir. He deserves a broad audience because he has written both as a professional historian and scarred ‘grunt.’ He is sharing his long emotional march to come to terms with the young GI he once was, not an unshared trip, but nevertheless lonely. The fact that Dr. Gillam fought in a war the United States declined to win does not subtract one whit from the honorable and heroic nature of his own service.” – (from the Foreword) Professor Allan R. Millett, The Ohio State University

“Dr. Gillam’s autobiographical account of his months in Vietnam provides the reader with a powerful and poignant account of soldiers in combat. This work focuses on the events surrounding a small group of Americans confronted by the intense and terrifying face of battle ... Dr. Gillam’s conclusion touches on how difficult it was to return to the ‘normal world.’ While the openness of Vietnam veterans has allowed Americans to develop a greater appreciation for the psychological stress of combat, Dr. Gillam’s personal recollections provide the reader with post-combat stress and fatigue with a face. Ultimately, the greatest virtue of this work is its honesty and realistic view of man’s greatest test-WAR! It is why I can enthusiastically recommend this compelling work to those interested in reading about America’s longest struggle.” – William Head, Chief of History, Robins Air Force Base

"Gillam has provided a very readable, well researched, articulate, and brutally candid description of his time at war and the impact that it had on his life. The result is an important addition to the historiography of the Vietnam War." - The Journal of Military History

Table of Contents

Foreword by Allan R. Millett
1. The Tet Offensive: Preparing the Battleground and Making Space for the Draft Class of 1968
2. Training the Draft Class of 1968 and the Vietnam Class of 1969-70
3. Joining the Vietnam Class of 1969-70
4. Operation Putnam Wildcat November 1, 1969 – January 18, 1970
5. Operation Putnam Power January 18, 1970 – February 7, 1970
6. Operation Hines and Putnam Paragon February 16, 1970 – May 18, 1970
7. The Diplomatic Song and Dance and Military Preparations for Invasion: April 1, 1970 – May 18, 1970
8. The Cambodian Invasion May 7 – May 15, 1970
9. Joining the Vietnam Veterans Class of 1970

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