Heroic Ordeal of the Korean War
Told from the point of view of the men in the foxholes and tanks, outposts, and command posts, Eric Hammel’s Chosin is the definitive account of the epic retreat under fire of the 1st Marine Division from the Chosin Reservoir in December 1950.
The author first sketches in the errors and miscalculations on the part of the American high command that caused the Marines to be strung out at the end of a narrow road scores of miles from the sea. He then plunges right into the action: the massing of Chinese forces in about ten-to-one strength; the Marines' command problems due to the -35-degree climate, mountainous terrain, and high-level overconfidence; and the onset of the overwhelming Chinese assault.
With a wealth of tactical detail and small-unit action Chosin: Heroic Ordeal of the Korean War is the most complete, most compelling book written on this iconic battle. Author Eric Hammel's masterful account offers invaluable perspective on war at the gut level.
Siege In the Clouds
From critically acclaimed military historian Eric Hammel comes a vivid oral history account of the Tet 1968 siege of the Khe Sanh Combat Base. The words of American fighting men caught up in the grueling, deadly seventy-seven-day ordeal create a harrowing tapestry of tragedy and triumph. As two North Vietnamese Army divisions move to surround them, the vastly outnumbered U.S. Marines rush to strengthen their defenses at the isolated base and several nearby hilltop positions. The Communist forces repeatedly attack, are repeatedly repelled, and then dig in to take the American base by siege-the makings of a classic, modern "set-piece" strategy in which the defenders become bait to tie the attackers to fixed positions in which they can be pummeled and pulverized by American artillery and air support. Khe Sanh: Siege in the Clouds is a ground-breaking step forward in the oral history genre. This gripping-and moving-narrative flows from the masterfully woven threads provided by nearly a hundred men who gallantly endured the wrenching all-out struggle to hold the combat base and its vulnerable outlying positions.
DECISION AT SEA
The Naval Battle of Guadalcanal
Guadalcanal: Decision at Sea is a full-blown examination in vivid detail of the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal, November 13–15, 1942, a crucial step toward America’s victory over the Japanese during World War II.
The three‑day air and naval action incorporated America’s most decisive surface battle of the war and the only naval battle of this century in which American battleships directly confronted and mortally wounded an enemy battleship. This American victory decided the future course of the naval war in the Pacific, indeed of the entire Pacific War. Eric Hammel has brilliantly blended the detailed historical records with personal accounts of many of the officers and enlisted men involved, creating an engrossing narrative of the strategy and struggle as seen by both sides. He has also included major new insights into crucial details of the battles, including a riveting account of the American forces’ failure to effectively use their radar advantage.
Originally published in 1988 as the concluding volume in Eric Hammel’s series of three independent books focusing on the Guadalcanal campaign and exploring all the elements that made it a turning point of the war in the Pacific, Guadalcanal: Decision at Sea lives up to the high standards and expectations that have marked this author’s many historical books and articles.
Praise for Guadalcanal: Decision at Sea and Eric Hammel
“Hammel’s description of surface tactics, naval gunnery, and what happens when the order to abandon ship is given is vivid and memorable.” —Publishers Weekly
“[Hammel’s] detailed and fast-paced chronicle includes a number of incidents and anecdotes not found in the more prosaic official histories.” —Sea Power
The Japanese defeats at Midway and Guadalcanal decided the outcome of the Pacific War. Guadalcanal was the classic three-dimensional campaign. On land, at sea, and in the air, fierce battles were fought with both sides stretching their supplies and equipment to the breaking point. The campaign lasted six months, involved nearly one million men, and stopped Japanese expansion in the Pacific.
When the campaign began on August 7, 1942, no one on either side quite knew how to conduct it, as Eric Hammel shows in this masterly account. Guadalcanal: Starvation hand corrects numerous errors and omissions in the official records that have been perpetuated in all the books previously published about the campaign. Hammel also draws on the recollections of more than 100 participants on both sides, especially the enlisted men at the sharp end. Their words bring us into the heart of the battle and portray the fighting accurately, realistically, andvery powerfully.Guadalcanal: Starvation Island follows the men and the commanders of this decisive World War II campaign in an integrated, brilliantly told narrative of the desperate struggle at sea, on land, and in the air.
Praise for Guadalcanal: Starvation Island and Eric Hammel
“A comprehensive history of the Guadalcanal Campaign . . . [and] a well‑balanced account. Well written and fast moving.” —Marine Corps Gazette
“Hammel has written the most comprehensive popular account to date . . . and exposes controversial aspects often passed over,” —Publishers Weekly
“Hammel takes the reader behind the scenes and details how decisions were made . . . and how they impacted on the troops carrying them out. He tells the story in a very human way.” —Leatherneck Magazine
“A splendid record of this decisive campaign. Hammel offers a wealth of fresh material drawn from archival records and the recollections of 100‑odd surviving participants. . . . A praiseworthy contribution to Guadalcanal lore.” —Kirkus Reviews
“Hammel’s ability to reveal both the immediacy and the humanity of war without judgment or bias makes all his books both readable and scholarly. —San Francisco Chronicle“Hammel does not write dry history. His battle sequences are masterfully portrayed. —Library Journal
I Corps, Vietnam, 1967—the Story of a Marine Infantry Battalion's Battle for Survival
In the summer of 1967, the Marines in I Corps, South Vietnam’s northernmost military region, were doing eveything they could to lighten the pressure on the besieged Con Thien Combat Base.
Still fresh after months of relatively light action around Khe Sanh, the 3d Battalion, 26th Marines, was sent to the Con Thien region to secure the combat bases’s endangered main supply route. On September 7, 1967, its first full day in the new area of operations, separate elements of the battalion were attacked by at least two battalions of North Vietnamese infantry, and both were nearly overrun in night-long battles.
On September 10, while advancing to a new sector near Con Thien, the 3d Battalion, 26th Marines, was attacked by at least a full North Vietnamese regiment, the same NVA unit that had attacked it two days earlier. Isolated into two separate defensive perimeters, the Marines battled through the afternoon and evening against repeated assaults by waves of NVA regulars intent upon achieving a major victory. In a battle described as “Custer’s Last Stand—With Air Support,” the Americans prevailed by the narrowest of margins.Ambush Valley is an unforgettable account of bravery and survival under impossible conditions. It is told entirely in the words of the men who faced the ordeal together—an unprecedented mosaic of action and emotion woven into an incredibly clear and vivid combat narrative by one of today’s most effective military historians. Ambush Valley achieves a new standard for oral history. It a war story not to be missed.
The Battle for Hue, Tet 1968
The Tet Offensive of January 1968 was the most important military campaign of the Vietnam War. The ancient capital city of Hue, once considered the jewel of Indochina’s cities, was a key objective of that surprise Communist offensive launched on Vietnam’s most important holiday. But when the North Vietnamese launched their massive invasion of the city, instead of the general civilian uprising and easy victory they had hoped for, they were faced with a U.S.[en]South Vietnamese counterattack and a devastating battle of attrition with enormous casualties on both sides. In the end, the battle for Hue was an unambiguous military and political victory for South Vietnam and the United States.
In Fire in the Streets, the dramatic narrative of the battle unfolds on an hour-by-hour, day-by-day basis. The focus is on the U.S. and South Vietnamese soldiers and Marines--from the top commanders down to the frontline infantrymen–and on the men and women who supported them. Eric Hammel, a renowned military historian, expertly draws on first-hand accounts from the battle participants in this engrossing mixture of action and commentary.
In addition, Hammel examines the tremendous strain the surprise attack put on the South Vietnamese[en]U.S. alliance, the shocking brutality of the Communist “liberators,” and the lessons gained by U.S. Marines forced to wage battle in a city–a task for which they were utterly unprepared and which has a special relevance today.With access to rare documents from both North and South Vietnam and hundreds of hours of interviews, Hammel, in a highly readable style, has produced the only complete and authoritative account of this crucial landmark battle.
A Marine Company Commander In Vietnam
Richard D. Camp, Jr. with Eric Hammel
In this vivid and intensely frank memoir, retired Marine Colonel Dick Camp recounts his daily experiences as "Lima-6" -- the commander of Lima Company, 3rd Battalion, 26th Marines -- from June 1967 through January 1968. As much as it is about the Vietnam War, Lima-6 is also a candid account of the camaraderie that a Marine infantry company forges in battle, and the compelling human drama of an infantry company at war as seen through the eyes of a lonely leader upon whom all others depend for guidance and strength.
The Story of Tom Blackburn and Navy Fighting Squadron VF-17
Tom Blackburn with Eric Hammel
Introduction by Vice Admiral James Stockdale, USN (Ret.)
The Jolly Rogers is the true story of one of the U.S. Navy’s foremost World War II fighter squadrons, VF-17, and its charismatic commander, fighter ace Tom Blackburn. In his action-packed war memoir and unit history, Blackburn describes VF-17’s intense, winning campaign against the Japanese over the northern Solomon Islands and Rabaul in late 1943 and early 1944.
Beginning with his own experiences as a trainer of fighter pilots early in World War II and his leadership of a small carrier-based fighter squadron supporting the invasion of North Africa, Blackburn goes on to provide a rich, detailed account of how he shaped a crew of over-eager hotshots into one of the highest scoring fighter squadrons of World War II. In only seventy-six days of combat, Tom Blackburn’s Jolly Rogers knocked down a record 154 enemy warplanes, and Blackburn himself emerged as one of VF-17’s leading aces with eleven kills to his credit.
Boisterous at times, and sober at others, Blackburn explains the methods he used and example he set to shape and wield VF-17 before and during its South Pacific combat tour. Not least of the challenges facing Blackburn and VF-17 was taming the hot new Vought F4U Corsair fighter. Originally slated to serve aboard a fleet aircraft carrier, VF-17 was ultimately transferred to land-based duty when the Corsair proved too hot to handle during carrier-deck landings. Though the Corsair’s teething problems were worked out by others—it eventually became a superb carrier-based fighter-bomber—it was Blackburn and his Jolly Rogers who proved the full potential of the Corsair as a killer of enemy airplanes.
Both a war memoir and a caring tribute to the aggressive, hold-nothing-back young men he trained and led in combat, Blackburn’s story is an epic in World War II history annals.
Critical Acclaim for The Jolly Rogers
Publishers Weekly says: “Blackburn was an exceptionally talented, resourceful, inspiring leader who imparted to his men a fierce warrior ethic . . . especially noteworthy is the author’s straightforward description of the methods he used organizing, training, leading his pilots in combat and developing air tactics.”
The Shipmate says: “Tom Blackburn [was] exceptional, and so is his book.”
The Hook says: “Tom Blackburn [was] one of the most successful fighter squadron commanders the U.S. Navy ever produced . . . not only a cracking good story, but a valuable primer on dealing with the rugged individualists who populate naval aviation, Highly recommended.”
The San Diego Union says: “[This] thrilling saga focuses on unsung heroes.”
Stars and Stripes says: “In a book generously laced with tales of air combat, Blackburn talks of the days spent building VF-17 into an outfit with its own identity and then leading his men into combat . . . ”
The Naval Institute Proceedings says: “Excellent . . . a well-rounded, coherent story that focuses on intense combat . . . As a professional’s account of his squadron’s . . . war, Blackburn’s has no peer.”Kirkus Reviews says: “A macho, like-it-was memoir . . . a gritty, action-packed slice of WWII life.”
Meanwhile the Syrian army, the greatest achievement of the modern Syrian state, is massed on the Golan Heights. Together with newly arrived Soviet‑made equipment, 1,200 main battle tanks, 1,000 armored personnel carriers, 1,000 artillery pieces, and more than 100 mobile antiaircraft missile carriers are ready to strike in a lightning‑swift offensive that will drive to the sea and cut Israel in two.
Duel for the Golan, the first book to be written on this aspect of the Yom Kippur War, is based on interviews with the participants from both sides of the fighting. As such it remain a compelling and powerful account of one of the greatest tank battles fought since World War II. It also provides the first in-depth analysis of exactly how and why an inferior number of Israeli defenders was capable of inflicting one of the greatest defeats in modern military history upon awe‑inspiring Arab armored forces.
Here are the intimate details of tank-against‑tank fighting, whether it be during retreats, in ambushes, or on the attack. Here are the stories of incredible courage and individual initiative as the Israeli defenders strive to contain the unexpected Syrian assault. During the 100‑hour battle that saved Israel, every Israeli tank that was committed to the Golan fighting was hit by hostile fire at least once, and some commanders had five or six tanks shot out from under them.
By the end of the war only a few days later, Israeli forces had counterattacked and advanced to where their artillery could hit the Damascus International Airport and other strategic targets with pinpoint accuracy. The Syrian army was virtually destroyed in the field, as were contingents from other Arab states such as Iraq and Jordan. How these remarkable turns of battle occurred is deftly laid out. This revealing account of a battle that changed the history of the Middle East is especially relevant today as tensions in the region increase once again.
The Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands, October 1942
By Eric Hammel
The Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands, a strategic naval action in the bitter Guadalcanal Campaign, was history’s fourth carrier-versus-carrier naval battle. Though technically a Japanese victory, the battle proved to be the Empire of Japan’s last serious attempt to win the Pacific War by means of an all-out carrier confrontation. Only one other carrier battle occurred in the Pacific War, in June 1944, in the Philippine Sea. By then, however, the U.S. Navy’s Fast Carrier Task Force was operational, and Japan’s dwindling fleet of carriers was outnumbered and completely outclassed. Though hundreds of Japanese naval aviators perished in the great Marianas Turkey Shoot of June 19–20, 1944, it was during the first four carrier battles—in the six-month period from early May through late October 1942—that the fate of Japan’s small, elite naval air arm was sealed. It was at Coral Sea, in May, that Japan’s juggernaut across the Pacific was blunted. It was at Midway, in June, that Japan’s great carrier fleet was cut down to manageable size. And it was at Eastern Solomons, in August, and Santa Cruz, in October, that Japan’s last best carrier air groups were ground to dust. After their technical victory at Santa Cruz, the Japanese withdrew their carriers from the South Pacific—and were never able to use them again as a strategically decisive weapon. Of the four Japanese aircraft carriers that participated in the Santa Cruz battle, only one survived the war.
Following Santa Cruz and the subsequent series of air and surface engagements known as the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal, the Imperial Navy’s Combined Fleet never again attempted a meaningful strategic showdown with the U.S. Pacific Fleet. Though several subsequent surface actions in the Solomons were clearly Japanese victories, their results were short-lived. After November 1942, Japan could not again muster the staying power—or the willpower—to wage a strategic war with her navy. Once the veteran carrier air groups had been shredded at Eastern Solomons and Santa Cruz, Japanese carriers ceased to be a strategic weapon.
The Santa Cruz clash was deemed a Japanese victory because U.S. naval forces withdrew from the battlefield. That is how victory and defeat are strictly determined. But on the broader, strategic, level, the U.S. Navy won at Santa Cruz—because it was able to achieve its strategic goal of holding the line and buying time. Japan was unable to achieve her strategic goal of defeating the U.S. Pacific Fleet in a final, decisive, all-or-nothing battle. The technical victory cost Japan any serious hope she had of winning the Pacific naval war.
The “victory” at Santa Cruz cost Japan her last best hope to win the war in the Pacific.Once again, author-historian Eric Hammel brings to the reading public an exciting narrative filled with the latest information and written in the edge-of-the-seat style that his readers have enjoyed for nearly two decades, in nearly thirty acclaimed military history books. As was the case with its companion volume, Carrier Clash, this new book is based upon American and Japanese battle reports and the recollections of many airmen and seamen who took part.