We Were Soldiers Once… And Young
|We Were Soldiers Once… And Young|
First edition title page
|Author(s)||Lt. Gen. Harold G. Moore (Ret.) and Joseph L. Galloway|
|Country||United States of America|
|Publication date||October 20, 1992|
|Media type||Hardcover and Trade Paperback|
|Dewey Decimal||959.704/342 20|
|LC Classification||DS557.8.I18 M66 1992|
We Were Soldiers Once… And Young is a 1992 book by Lt. Gen. Harold G. Moore (Ret.) and war journalist Joseph L. Galloway about the Vietnam War. It focuses on the role of the First and Second Battalions of the 7th Cavalry Regiment in the Battle of the Ia Drang Valley, the United States' first large-unit battle of the Vietnam War; previous engagements involved small units and patrols (squad, platoon, and company sized units).
The book was a New York Times best-seller. David Halberstam called it "A stunning achievement - paper and words with the permanence of marble. I read it and thought of The Red Badge of Courage, the highest compliment I can think of." General H. Norman Schwarzkopf said "We Were Soldiers Once...and Young is a great book of military history, written the way military history should be written."
The book was adapted into the movie We Were Soldiers, directed by Randall Wallace and starring Mel Gibson as Moore. In the book, Moore complains that "Every damn Hollywood movie got it wrong"; Wallace has said he was inspired by this comment and became "determined to get it right this time."
The film's final version, though getting many of the facts of the book presented onto film, does not present an entirely historically accurate portrayal of the battle, nor is it entirely faithful to the book. For instance, the film depicts a heroic charge under the command of Lt. Col. Hal Moore at the end of the battle that destroys the Vietnamese reserve, ending the battle in an American victory (a fact that director Randall Wallace noted in the DVD commentary); in fact, there was no heroic final charge in the book, nor were the forces of the North Vietnamese destroyed, though, it should be noted, 1800 out of 4000 Vietnamese soldiers were killed to 72, out of 395, American fatal casualties. Lt. Col. Nguyen Huu An, the Vietnamese commander, did not see the conclusion at LZ X-Ray as the end of combat, and the Battle of Ia Drang continued with combat action at LZ Albany where the 2/7th, with A Company 1/5th, found themselves in a fight for their lives against Lt Col Nguyen Huu An's reserve.
There are as well many other historical differences in the book versus the movie. Some differences not shown would have demonstrated how desperate the American situation at Ia Drang was. For example, the seriousness of the overrun of C Company under the command of Capt Robert Edwards and the repulse of the final major North Vietnamese push at LZ X-Ray on the former C Company line which was then held by B Company 2/7th under the command of Capt Myron Diduryk. Also incorrect is the act of Capt. Ramon Nadal pushing forward and rescuing the stranded platoon of Lt. Henry Herrick, which according to the book was actually done not by one company of the 1/7th, but rather was a major push made by two companies of the 2/5th as well as B Company 1/7th.
Despite the aforementioned differences from the book and departures from historical accuracy, in a documentary included in the video versions, Gen. Moore states that this film is the first one "to get it right." 
The Vietnamese government did not greet the film with approval. In fact, Don Duong, the Vietnamese actor who played the Vietnamese commander Lt. Col. Nguyen Huu An, was officially condemned as a traitor, subjected to interrogations to force him to sign a "confession" to "crimes" he had supposedly committed. Duong refused to give in. After months of negotiations between the Bush White House and Hanoi, Duong and his family were allowed to immigrate to the United States in 2003.
See also↑Jump back a section
- ISBN 0679411585; Published: October 20, 1992, Random House Publishing Group, 432 pages (Hardcover)
- ISBN 0060013257; Published: April 15, 2002, Harper Perennial, 528 pages (Trade Paperback)
- ISBN 078624495X; Published: August 1, 2002, Thorndike Press, 688 pages (Hardcover)
- ISBN 0345472640; Published: June 29, 2004, Random House, 535 pages (Mass Market Paperbound)
- ISBN 034547581X; Published: November 23, 2004, Presidio Press, 432 pages (Trade Paperback)
- LZ X-Ray.com
- We Were Soldiers Once, director's commentary  accessed 6 September 2010
- Getting it Right Behind the scenes of We Were Soldiers, Bonus Feature, Blu-Ray,  accessed 6 SEP 2010
- "WE WERE SOLDIERS"... Vietnam Actor DON DUONG is FREE at Last..." by Anita Busche, Los Angeles Times, Calendar Section, 4/8/2002