AMERICAN WARRIORJohn C. Bahnsen, Jr. with Wess Roberts, Citadel, 2007
Reviewed by Natasha Larry, Penumbra Publishing author and blogger at ParanormalWire.blogspot.com
Available in paperback and ebook on Amazon and other retailers
AMERICAN WARRIOR has been called ‘one of the best books on the Vietnam War.’ After reading it, my inner history nerd has to agree. Now, I won’t lie, I’m totally biased when it comes to this title. Not only do I know, and have interviewed the author, ‘Doc’ Bahnsen, but my grandfather is in this book, which is why I used it for my graduate thesis.
Just in case you were unaware, my grandfather is retired CSM A. C. Cotton, the first African American to serve as CSM (command sergeant major) of the 1st Cavalry Division. Yes, he’s kind of bad@ss. One of my favorite quotes is about him. Doc refers to Cotton as ‘...top of the line. A big, tall, imposing soldier the troops listened to and respected. He was a cavalryman and fighter first and foremost.’ So, yes, I loved the book.
My bias aside, it is a great book. The reason I think it stands out as a Vietnam combat memoir is because it follows the activity of the 11th ACR (armored cavalry regiment), better known as the ‘Blackhorse Regiment.’ For non-history geeks, this regiment was America’s best hope for winning the Vietnam War. The reason historians make this claim is because the soldiers of the 11th ARC were willing to do what most others weren’t by following one of the most important rules of warfare. They adopted the enemy’s fighting methods, especially search and destroy. In fact, their fight slogan was ‘find the bastards and pile on!’
AMERICAN WARRIOR is written with rare candor I’ve never seen in any account of the Vietnam War. The story is riveting, raw, and unforgettable. It’s so fast-paced, readers will forget they are reading a non-fiction account of a controversial war. In fact, I don’t think one has to be a military history nerd to enjoy this book. As far as bad@ss goes, these soldiers were it.