Huế 1968 is expertly researched military history ... One reason I call this book an extraordinary feat of journalism is that Mr. Bowden makes events vivid and easy to understand for a reader with no military experience and only limited knowledge of the Vietnam War. The results are in every way worthy of the author of Black Hawk Down (1999), Mr. Bowden’s meticulously reported account of the Battle of Mogadishu ... Mr. Bowden treats both sides with impeccable fairness and shows the bravery and cruelty of each. There is no 'enemy side,' no sinister force of the kind that lesser journalists and historians sometimes use like the antagonist in a novel to hold the reader’s attention ... Huế 1968 is also an exploration of what is common to all wars: humankind’s capacity for violence, cruelty, self-sacrifice, bravery, cowardice and love. Mr. Bowden undertakes this task with the talent and sensibility of a master journalist who is also a humanist and an honest man ... To understand what it is to be human, you must understand war, which is unique to our species. In Huế 1968, we read about humanity placed in a crucible, out of which comes both refined steel and slag. Here the best and worst of human behavior is exposed in glaring light.
...a masterful blood-and-guts account of the decisive battle in the Vietnam War ... The heart and soul of Hue 1968 lies with its vivid and often wrenching descriptions of the 'storm of war' as soldiers and South Vietnamese citizens experienced it.
...[a] compelling and highly readable narrative ... Bowden renders the grunt-level view of this reality with painful clarity: Junior officers futilely attempted to dissuade their superiors from issuing suicidal orders to proceed into enemy-laced streets where snipers lay in wait ... Bowden does not neglect the uglier aspects of war, including racism, substance abuse and atrocities committed by both sides ... A few flaws mar an otherwise stellar book. The stories of the Vietnamese pale in comparison with the dramatic stories of American soldiers. This is perhaps inevitable. Not only did Bowden have to rely on translators, but he also spent less time in Vietnam ... Hue 1968 is a meticulous and vivid retelling of an important battle. It brings an old war to life for young Americans, and perhaps it will prompt a wider reflection on how to apply the lessons of Vietnam to our wars of today.