Vietnam War Bibliography:

Oral Histories and Personal Accounts, American, Especially Soldiers

Most personal accounts are scattered through the many topical sections of this bibliography. What you will find here is only a few that did not seem to fit well into any of those topical sections, plus collections of oral histories.

The John F. Kennedy Presidential Library & Museum has a Oral History Project that has compiled an extensive collection of oral history interviews of people who were involved in, or dealt with, the Kennedy administration. Some of these are available online. See Oral History Project for a list of all interviews, with links for those that are available online.

Oral histories for many important figures of the 1960s have been collected by the LBJ Presidential Library. Some of these have been placed online at an Oral History Collection Web page at the LBJ Presidential Library. Far more of them have been placed online in the Lyndon B. Johnson Oral History collection at the Miller Center for Public Affairs, University of Virginia. If you are hoping to find online an oral history not specifically mentioned in the listing below, check the Lyndon B. Johnson Oral History collection first; its holdings are by far the most complete. But if you actually go to the reading room at the LBJ Presidential Library, you will find a more complete collection than either of the ones online. Some of the interestings ones available online, by U.S. military men, are:

The Foreign Affairs Oral History Collection of the Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training has been placed online as part of the American Memory project of the Library of Congress.

The Oral History Project of the Vietnam Center, at Texas Tech University, has compiled quite a lot of interviews, and is continuing to do more. The interview transcripts are placed online. Many individual oral histories in this collection are listed in various sections of this bibliography. For a listing of available interviews, and information about how to become a participant, see The Oral History Project.

The U.S. Army War College and the Military History Institute associated with it have had a variety of oral history programs over the years, including the Senior Officers Debriefing Program, the Senior Officers Oral History Program, Project 82-2, and Project 87-17. Oral histories done by the Chaplain Corps, under a "History of the Chaplains" program, have also been deposited in the Military History Institute. An impressive number of oral histories from these various programs are, or at least once were, online in the Army Heritage Collection Online. A reorganization of that web site invalidated the previous links, and I have not yet managed to find new links for most of these oral histories.

Youngstown State University, in Youngstown, Ohio, has an Oral History Program that has placed online a considerable number of oral histories relating to the Vietnam War, mostly rather short, in the Oral History Digital Collection. There are quite a few spelling errors in the transcriptions. A few of the oral histories in this collection are:


 

Bill Adler, ed., Letters from Vietnam. New York: Dutton, 1967. 212 pp.

Bill Adler, ed., Letters from Vietnam. New York: Presidio (Ballantine), 2003. 245 pp. This is not a reprint of the previous item, but a new collection, containing letters going up to 1973.

Harry S. Ashmore and William C. Baggs, with Elaine H. Burnell, Mission to Hanoi: A Chronicle of Double-Dealing in High Places. New York: Berkley, 1968. Ashmore and Baggs were journalists who travelled to Hanoi, and carried messages between the US State Department and the DRV. Their account of these events is accompanied by a long chronology of the war up to 1968, compiled by Elaine Burnell, and made up almost entirely of passages from statements and documents.

Mark Baker, Nam: The Vietnam War in the Words of the Men and Women Who Fought There. New York: Morrow, 1981. (There have been questions about the accuracy of some of the stories; see Stolen Valor, by B.G. Burkett and Glenna Whitley.)

John Balaban, Remembering Heaven's Face: A Moral Witness in Vietnam. New York: Poseidon, 1991. 334 pp. Reissued with a new preface and altered subtitle: Remembering Heaven's Face: A Story of Rescue in Wartime Vietnam. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2002. 336 pp. Balaban arrived in Vietnam in mid 1967, a conscientious objector who had chosen a two-year tour in Vietnam with International Voluntary Services as his substitute for military service. He was wounded in the Têt Offensive, and is said to have produced a splendid account of his experiences.

Stanley W. Beesley, Vietnam: The Heartland Remembers. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1987. Beesley, who had himself served as a Ranger team leader in Vietnam, compiled this oral history by interviewing veterans in Oklahoma.

James Francis Behr, "Vietnam Voices: An Oral History of Eleven Vietnam Veterans." D. Litt. dissertation, Drew University, 2001. AAT 3025591. 239 pp.

John Stevens Berry, Those Gallant Men: On Trial in Vietnam. Novato, CA: Presidio, 1984.

Robert A. Bratt, Four Stars on a Blue Shield: A Year in Vietnam with the Americal Division. n.p.: 1stBooks, 2001. x, 90 pp. (of which pp. 31-51 are illustrations). Bratt, a Captain in the Adjutant General Corps, arrived in Vietnam in August 1968, went to Chu Lai with the 23d Infantry Division (Americal). His first six months he was a Special Services Officer, running R&R, handling visting entertainers, etc. Second six months he headed the Personnel Actions Branch, AG Section, 23d Administration Company. A short, chatty account.

James Carroll, An American Requiem: God, My Father, and the War That Came Between Us. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1996. Carroll, as a young Catholic priest; opposed the war; his father was an Air Force general working in the Pentagon.

Max Cleland, Strong at the Broken Places: A Personal Story. Lincoln, VA: Chosen Books/Waco, TX: Word Books, 1980. 156 pp. Atlanta: Cherokee Publishing Co., 1986. 162 pp. Atlanta: Longstreet Press, 2000. 194 pp. This book is devoted more to Cleland's experience after his return from Vietnam, from initial hospitalization for his massive wounds (he was a triple amputee) to his work as head of the Veterans Administration, than to his service in the Army in Vietnam. Long after writing this book, he became US Senator from Georgia.

Max Cleland, with Ben Raines, Heart of a Patriot: How I Found the Courage to Survive Vietnam, Walter Reed and Karl Rove. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2009. 259 pp.

Russell H. Coward, A Voice from the Vietnam War. Greenwood, 2004. 216 pp. About 70 pages seem to be devoted to the year Coward was in Saigon, 1969-1970, teaching English to Vietnamese officers.

Charles T. Cross, Born a Foreigner: A Memoir of the American Presence in Asia. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 1999. xvii, 281 pp. Cross was head of CORDS for I Corps 1967-1969.

Marjorie Doughty, Memoirs of an Insignificant Dragon. Atlanta: Allegro Press, 1999. 353 pp. Doughty, the wife of an AID official, arrived in South Vietnam in 1962, bringing her small son. She lived in Saigon while her husband was working in Binh Dinh. She and her son were evacuated as part of the general evacuation of American dependents in 1965. After that she lived in Thailand, with her husband working for AID sometimes in Thailand and sometimes in Vietnam. Her accounts of visits to Vietnam to see him, in Phuoc Long at some point in the early 1970s and in Saigon just before its fall, in April 1975, are interesting.

Joe P. Dunn, Desk Warrior: Memoirs of a Combat REMF. Needham Heights, MA: Pearson Custom Publishing, 1999. xi, 147 pp. Dunn was drafted early in 1969, dropped out of training as an artillery fire direction control officer, and went to Vietnam in November 1969 as an enlisted unattended ground sensor operator. He was assigned to the 199th Brigade, where he became the S-2 clerk typist at Xuan Loc for several months before shifting to work in the sensor program. He considers the sensor program in the 199th to have been fairly worthless, partly due to bad morale and poor performance by the monitoring personnel. His impression was that the sensor program in the 1st Cav, which he had some contact, was worse. A version of the text, differently formatted and paginated from the print published version but apparently the same in content, has been placed on-line in the Virtual Vietnam Archive of the Vietnam Project, at Texas Tech University, in five parts: Table of Contents and Preface; Chapters 1-2; Chapters 3-5; Chapters 6-7; and Chapters 8-9.

W[illiam] D[aniel] Ehrhart, Passing Time: Memoir of a Vietnam Veteran Against the War. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 1989. 291 pp. A sequel to the author's combat memoir Vietnam-Perkasie.

W[illiam] D[aniel] Ehrhart, Going Back: An Ex-Marine Returns to Vietnam. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 1987. 200 pp.

W[illiam] D[aniel] Ehrhart, In the Shadow of Vietnam: Essays, 1977-1991. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 1991. 208 pp.

Frontline Diplomacy: The U.S. Foreign Affairs Oral History Collection. Arlington, VA: Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training, 2000. Transcripts of 893 oral histories, mostly of U.S. diplomats, plus some other material, published as a CD-ROM. Quite useful. Oral histories in this collection include George Ball, Ellsworth Bunker, Elbridge Durbrow, Frederick Flott, W. Averell Harriman, U. Alexis Johnson, Paul Kattenberg, Wolfgang J. Lehmann, Francis Terry McNamara, Joseph Mendenhall, Robert H. Miller, Frederick Nolting, Robert Nooter, Rufus C. Phillips, III, Douglas Pike, Walt Rostow, Dean Rusk, Maxwell Taylor, Leonard Unger, and Barry Zorthian.

Bob Greene, Homecoming: When the Soldiers Returned from Vietnam. New York: Putnam, 1989. A compilation of letters from veterans, put together by a newspaper columnist who asked in his column for veterans to say whether they had actually been spat upon when they returned to the US, and unleashed an unexpected variety of interesting material.

Keith R. Grimes, Special Operations Weatherman: An Oral Autobiography. Scott AFB, Illinois: Military Airlift Command, United States Air Force, 1978. xxiii, 351 pp. Oral history interviews apparently conducted over a couple of years, beginning April 1974, by John F. Fuller, Air Weather Service historian. Illustrated. Most of the text, as sanitized in 1985 (CIA had requested a bunch of deletions regarding Grimes' service in Laos in 1965) has been placed on-line in the Virtual Vietnam Archive of the Vietnam Project, at Texas Tech University, in parts: front matter (including the CIA letter requesting deletions) and pp. 1-35 (the preface is missing, although it was not among the deletions requested by the CIA) (pp. 2-35 deal with Laos); pp. 36-85 (Laos); pp. 86-135 (pp. 86-133 deal with Laos; pp. 133-135 begin the discussion of the 1970 Son Tay POW rescue mission); pp. 136-187 (Son Tay); pp. 188-192 (Son Tay); pp. 193-243 (193-226 deal with Son Tay; 227-236 deal with various issues, including but not limited to Grimes' service on NSC staff in the Nixon administration; 237-243 begin the Dominican crisis of 1965); pp. 244-293 (1965 Dominican crisis, continued; Greece 1963; pp. 260-266 deal with Detachment 75; pp. 267-293 begin his 1974-75 tour in Thailand, which included work on Cambodian air supply); pp. 294-343 (Thailand continued, including the Phnom Penh and Saigon evacuations, and the Mayaguez incident; Glossary; Index A-L); pp. 344-351 (Index L-Z).

Thomas R. Hargrove, A Dragon Lives Forever: War and Rice in Vietnam's Mekong Delta, 1969-1991, and Beyond. New York: Ivy, 1994. 472 pp. This book interleaves three types of material: the story of Hargroves' service as a US advisor with particular responsibility for the introduction of miracle rice, in Chuong Thien (a very insecure province), 1969-70; the story of his coming to terms with his Vietnam experience and revisiting Chuong Thien in 1988; and excerpts from the novel he wrote in the 1970s, based on his experiences in Chuong Thien.

James C. Hefley, By Life or by Death. Grand Rapids: Zonderman, 1969. 208 pp. Evangelical Christian missionaries in Vietnam.

Gerald C. Hickey, Window on a War: An Anthropologist in the Vietnam Conflict. Lubbock: Texas Tech University Press, 2002. xix, 395 pp. I have not found time to read this as yet, but I am confident it will be an extremely valuable account, by a man who is most famous for his work with the Montagnards, but was also involved with other things in Vietnam.

Lawrence Holmberg, Jr., "Descending from the Pass of Clouds: A Vietnam Memoir." Holmberg, an Army photographer, arrived in Vietnam early in 1971 and was assigned to the 221st Signal Company at Long Binh. The text of the unpublished memoir has been placed on-line in the Virtual Vietnam Archive of the Vietnam Project at Texas Tech University, in three parts: front matter and pp. 1-39 (training, early part of service in Vietnam), pp. 40-73 (later part of service in Vietnam, some aftermath), and pp. 74-118 (more on the aftermath).

Jon Hovde and Maureen Anderson, Left for Dead: A Second Life After Vietnam. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2005. xv, 191 pp. Hovde lost an arm and a leg when his APC hit an anti-tank mine in 1968. The book appears to be more concerned with his recovery than with his Vietnam service.

Sam James, Servant on the Edge of History: Risking All for the Gospel in War-Ravaged Vietnam. Garland, Texas: Hannibal Books, 2005. James, a Southern Baptist missionary, was in vietnam from November 1962 to April 1975.

Michael A. Kukler, Operation Barooom. Gastonia, NC: TPC, 1980. 153 pp. Miscellaneous comments on Vietnam and the war; Kukler became Chief Information Non-Commissioned Officer for MACV in October 1968.

Eric Lee, Saigon to Jerusalem. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 1992. vii, 200 pp. An oral history of 18 Jewish Vietnam veterans who later emigrated to Israel. (One of the stories, that of William Northrop, is apparently false.  See Stolen Valor, by B.G. Burkett and Glenna Whitley.)

Richard E. Mack, Memoir of a Cold War Soldier. Kent, Ohio: Kent State University Press, 2001. xv, 216 pp. Pp. 112-47 cover Mack's October 1963-October 1964 tour as an adviser to the ARVN 2d Division in I Corps, and pp. 157-179 cover his August 1969 to August 1970 tour (promoted to Colonel just before the end), initially with the 3d Brigade, 4th Infantry Division, later with U.S. Army Headquarters Area Command in Saigon.

Harry Maurer, Strange Ground: Americans in Vietnam, 1945-1975: An Oral History. New York: Henry Holt, 1989. x, 634 pp. (One of the stories, that of Yoshia Chee, is apparently false.  See Stolen Valor, by B.G. Burkett and Glenna Whitley.)

Lt. Col. Robert W. Michel, Ret., ed., Before The Memories Fade : An Anthology of Humorous, Bizarre and Poignant Stories from the Vietnam Era. Authorhouse, 2004. 188 pp.

Chris Morris & Janet Morris, The American Warrior. Stamford, CT: Longmeadow, 1992. xiv, 271 pp. Oral history, part but not all dealing with Vietnam.

Joan Morrison and Robert K. Morrison, eds., From Camelot to Kent State: The Sixties Experience in the Words of those who Lived It. New York: Times Books (Random House), 1987. Rev. ed. New York: Oxford University Press, 2001. xxiv, 355 pp.

Ed Murphy and Zoeann Murphy, Vietnam: Our Father Daughter Journey. New York: Philmark Press, 2006. 103 pp. Ed Murphy was an intelligence analyst with the 4th Infantry Division, 1968-69, later spoke out against the war. Short, extensively illustrated.

Chris Noel with Bill Treadwell, Matter of Survival: The 'War' Jane Never Saw. Boston: Branden, 1987. 200 pp. Chris Noel was an actress who toured US bases in Vietnam.

Reuben & Nancy Noel, Saigon for a Song: The True Story of a Vietnam Gig to Remember. Phoenix: UCS Press, 1987. 260 pp. Two entertainers encounter problems, and the corruption in U.S. military clubs, on a tour of South Vietnam.

Robert Patterson, While They Died: A Memoir. Emmett, Idaho: Patterson Press, 1993. 312 pp. plus an appendix listing U.S. contractors in Vietnam. Patterson, needing a job, went to Vietnam in 1967 and went to work for a major firm, Pacific Architects and Engineers (PA&E).

Thomas Reilly, Next of Kin: A Brother's Journey to Wartime Vietnam. Washington: Brassey's, 2003. 271 pp. After learning of the death of his brother Ron, serving with the 25th Infantry Division in 1970, Thomas Reilly when to Vietnam to find out how it had happened.

Edward L. Rowny, It Takes One to Tango. Brassey's US, (1993?). Not much of this memoir deals with Vietnam, but it does include information on Rowny's participation in developing the concept of air cavalry, and on Nixon-Kissinger differences in regard to Vietnam policy.

Al Santoli, Everything We Had: An Oral History of the Vietnam War by Thirty-three American Soldiers Who Fought It. hb New York: Random House, 1981. pb New York: Ballantine, 1982. xviii, 268 pp. Warning: some of the men who told Santoli their stories for this volume, Thomas Bird, Mike Beamon, and Stephen Klinkhammer, apparently either exaggerated their stories significantly, or invented them out of the whole cloth (see Stolen Valor, by B.G. Burkett and Glenna Whitley, for details).

Robert A. Scalapino, From Leavenworth to Lhasa: Living in a Revolutionary Era. Berkeley: Institute for East Asian Studies, 2008. 212 pp. This memoir by a senior Asian scholar who supported the war, while teaching at Berkeley in the 1960s, should be interesting.

William S. Shepard, Consular Tales. Xlibris. 182 pp. One chapter of this book discusses Shepard's several tours in Vietnam as a U.S. consular officer and diplomat. His first was from 1966 to 1967; the last was in 1973, as a liaison with the ICCS. Anti-Communist in tone.

Howard R. Simpson, Tiger in the Barbed Wire: An American in Vietnam, 1952-1991. McLean, VA: Brassey's, 1992. Simpson was a USIA war correspondent at Dien Bien Phu, and later a press advisor to Ngo Dinh Diem and to Nguyen Khanh.

Harry Spiller, Death Angel: A Vietnam Memoir of a Bearer of Death Messages to Families. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 1992. Spiller served in Vietnam in 1965 with the 4th Marines. Later he had a job as a Marine recruiter, in which job he also had to inform families of Marines killed in action.

Harry Spiller, Vietnam: Angel of Death. Southeast Missouri State University, 2002. 186 pp. Presumably a retitled version of the previous item.

Harry Spiller, Scars of Vietnam: Personal Accounts by Veterans and their Families. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 1994. 240 pp.

Ron Steinman, The Soldiers' Story: Vietnam in Their Own Words. New York: TV Books, 1999. 367 pp.  Steinman was NBC bureau chief in Saigon 1966-1968.

Gerald S. Strober and Deborah Hart Strober, Let Us Begin Anew: An Oral History of the Kennedy Presidency. New York: HarperCollins, 1993. xiii, 540 pp.

Deborah Hart Strober and Gerald S. Strober, The Kennedy Presidency: An Oral History of the Era. Washingon, DC: Brassey's, 2003. I belive this is a revised edition of the item above.

Gerald S. Strober and Deborah Hart Strober, Nixon: An Oral History of His Presidency. New York: HarperCollins, 1994. xi, 576 pp. pb 1996.

Deborah Hart Strober and Gerald S. Strober, The Nixon Presidency: An Oral History of the Era. Washington, DC: Brassey's, 2003. I believe this is a revised edition of the item above.

Michael Takiff, Brave Men, Gentle Heroes: American Fathers and Sons in World War II and Vietnam. New York: Morrow (HarperCollins), 2003. 560 pp.

Peter Tauber, The Sunshine Soldiers. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1971. The adventures in military training of a man who had joined the Army Reserves in order to avoid being drafted and sent to Vietnam.

Dennis Thatcher, Cut on Six Sides. Quincy, OH: Thatcher Farms Publishing, 1999. 192 pp. Thatcher describes service 1970-71 at FSB Fuller (by that time mainly an ARVN post, with just a few Americans), as an electronic warfare specialist monitoring sensors. The "Prolog" describing the beginning of Lam Son 719 (pp. 3-6) is not believable.

George M. Watson, Voices from the Rear: Vietnam 1969-1970. n.p.: Xlibris, 2001. 322 pp. Watson was drafted after having completed his first year of graduate school. He arrived in Vietnam in June 1969, was sent to the 101st Airborne Division, and because of his educational background was assigned to the Personnel Records Branch of the 101st Administration Company. He was at Bien Hoa until late November, then shifted to Phu Bai.

Daniel C. Webster, The Pucker Factor: One Noncombatant's Vietnam Memoirs. Bloomington, IN: 1stBooks, 2003. xi, 301 pp. Webster arrived in Vietnam, a 35-year-old SP5, in August 1967 with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 20th Engineering Brigade, which was stationed at Bien Hoa. After about 5 months he was transferred to the 13th Combat Assault Helicopter Battalion, at Can Tho, in which he served as information specialist and photographer, later as intelligence sergeant. Then he was sent to Soc Trang to be the intelligence sergeant for the 336th Combat Assault Helicopter Company; later his job there was changed to perimeter sergeant. He was there until early 1969.

Jim Wilson, The Sons of Bardstown: 25 Years of Vietnam in an American Town. New York: Crown, June 1994. Battery C, 138th Artillery, Kentucky National Guard, made up almost entirely of men from Bardstown, Kentucky, suffered 45 casualties on June 19, 1969, at Fire Base Tomahawk. This oral history covers the effect on and reactions in this small town.

Gordon S. Wise, Letters from Vietnam. Minneapolis, 1971. vi, 145 pp. Wise had died in 1970.

The John F. Kennedy Presidential Library has a very extensive collection of oral histories of people who had been associated with President Kennedy. There is a list on an Oral History Interviews Web page at the JFK Presidential Library, but the actual texts have not been placed online.

Large collections of oral histories from the Kennedy and Johnson administrations are available on microfilm.  See listing under  Microfilmed Document Collections.

The Veterans' Oral History Project, under the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress, is intended to collect oral histories of America's war veterans.  It should become a major resource when it gets fully organized.  It is now only in the planning stages; it was authorized by an act of Congress late in the year 2000.  For further information, see the  Veterans' Oral History Project web site.

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Copyright © 2005, 2007, 2008, 2009, Edwin E. Moise. This document may be reproduced only by permission. Revised November 2, 2010.