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Mark Bowden in Conversation with Michael Neiberg

The Midtown Scholar Bookstore is pleased to welcome the "master of narrative journalism" Mark Bowden to Harrisburg as he discusses his new book on the Vietnam War, Hue 1968: A Turning Point of the American War in Vietnam with Professor of History and Chair of War Studies in the Department of National Security and Strategy at the United States Army War College, Michael Neiberg. 

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About the Book:

Not since his #1 New York Times bestseller Black Hawk Down has Mark Bowden written a book about a battle. His most ambitious work yet, Hue 1968 is the story of the centerpiece of the Tet Offensive and a turning point in the American War in Vietnam.

By January 1968, despite an influx of half a million American troops, the fighting in Vietnam seemed to be at a stalemate. Yet General William Westmoreland, commander of American forces, announced a new phase of the war in which “the end begins to come into view.” The North Vietnamese had different ideas. In mid-1967, the leadership in Hanoi had started planning an offensive intended to win the war in a single stroke. Part military action and part popular uprising, the Tet Offensive included attacks across South Vietnam, but the most dramatic and successful would be the capture of Hue, the country’s cultural capital. At 2:30 a.m. on January 31, 10,000 National Liberation Front troops descended from hidden camps and surged across the city of 140,000. By morning, all of Hue was in Front hands save for two small military outposts.

The commanders in country and politicians in Washington refused to believe the size and scope of the Front’s presence. Captain Chuck Meadows was ordered to lead his 160-marine Golf Company against thousands of enemy troops in the first attempt to re-enter Hue later that day. After several futile and deadly days, Lieutenant Colonel Ernie Cheatham would finally come up with a strategy to retake the city, block by block and building by building, in some of the most intense urban combat since World War II. 

With unprecedented access to war archives in the U.S. and Vietnam and interviews with participants from both sides, Bowden narrates each stage of this crucial battle through multiple points of view. Played out over twenty-four days of terrible fighting and ultimately costing 10,000 combatant and civilian lives, the Battle of Hue was by far the bloodiest of the entire war. When it ended, the American debate was never again about winning, only about how to leave. In Hue 1968, Bowden masterfully reconstructs this pivotal moment in the American War in Vietnam.

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About the Author:

Mark Bowden, author of HUE 1968, is the author of thirteen books, including the #1 New York Times bestseller Black Hawk Down— “one of the finest combat reconstructions in the annals of warfare,” according to the Baltimore Sun. It has sold over 4 million copies. Bowden reported at the Philadelphia Inquirer for twenty years and now writes for the Atlantic, Vanity Fair, and other magazines. He is also the writer in residence at the University of Delaware. His most recent book is The Three Battles of Wanat: And Other True StoriesBlack Hawk Down was a finalist for the National Book Award in Nonfiction; his Killing Pablo won the Overseas Press Club’s 2001 Cornelius Ryan Award as the book of the year; and his Guests of the Ayatollah was listed by Newsweek as one of “The 50 Best Books for Our Times.”  Bowden has received the Abraham Lincoln Literary Award and the International Thriller Writers’ True Thriller Award for lifetime achievement

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About the Interviewer:

Michael S. Neiberg is Professor of History and Chair of War Studies in the Department of National Security and Strategy at the United States Army War College. His published work specializes on the First and Second World Wars in global context. The Wall Street Journal named his Dance of the Furies: Europe and the Outbreak of World War I (Harvard University Press, 2011) one of the five best books ever written about that war. In October 2016 Oxford University Press published his Path to War, a history of American responses to the Great War, 1914-1917 and in July 2017 Oxford published his Concise History of the Treaty of Versailles. He is now at work on a history of US involvement in the Middle East from 1942 to 1950.

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Later Event: September 10
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