Book Review

On the Ground - The Secret War in Vietnam  by John Stryker Meyer and John E Peters

On The Ground - The Secret War In Vietnam

14 July 2008

By far the most extraordinary and interesting role of America’s Special Forces in the Vietnam War were the covert missions into the officially neutral Kingdoms of Laos and Cambodia.

Under the direct control of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, SOG (Studies and Observation Group), reconnaissance teams gathered intelligence on the enemy’s infiltration route, the Ho Chi Minh Trail. This was the most highly classified and dangerous assignment a SF trooper could request or receive.

On The Ground is another thrilling insight into the shadowy world of behind enemy lines action. However, this book is not just filled with yet more incredible tails of bravery and daring-do, but also contains some of the more humorous events away from the battlefield. It is this mix of stories that makes it an excellent follow-up to Meyer’s first book, Across The Fence, which covers his first tour of duty in South Vietnam.

In amongst the many stories that the authors relate is a possible explanation for why numerous recon missions were compromised. All too frequently teams made contact with the enemy immediately as they stepped off their helicopters, some were even welcomed by name!

Meyer and Peters' memoir also contains amusing insights into the rivalry that existed within SOG and the cultural divide that separated the indigenous troops from their U.S. advisors.

As with most Special Forces related books, this will be of interest to both the general reader as well as those who love to delve deeper into the murky world of special operations. The reader will be left amazed at the situations that the small recon teams both found themselves in and had to extricate themselves from.

Available in hardback from leading bookstores, On the Ground is good value at just $24.95 and will sit well with the benchmark works of Plaster, Greco and Parnar.
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