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The Battle of An LocThe Battle of An Loc

James H. Willbanks

Main Selection of Military Book Club

Narrated by Charles Craig

Available from Audible

Book published by Indiana University Press

With the knowledge born of firsthand experience, James H. Willbanks tells the story of the 60-day siege of An Loc. In 1972, late in the Vietnam War, a small group of South Vietnamese held off three North Vietnamese divisions and helped prevent a direct attack on Saigon. The battle can be considered one of the major events during the gradual American exit from Vietnam. An advisor to the South Vietnamese during the battle, Willbanks places the battle in the context of the shifting role of the American forces and a policy decision to shift more of the burden of fighting the war onto the Vietnamese troops. He presents an overview of the 1972 North Vietnamese Easter Offensive, a plan to press forward the attack on U.S. and ARVN positions throughout the country, including Binh Long province and Saigon. The North Vietnamese hoped to strike a decisive blow at a time when most American troops were being withdrawn. The heart of Willbanks’s account concentrates on the fighting in Binh Long province, Saigon, and the siege of An Loc. It concludes with a discussion of the Paris peace talks, the significance of the fighting at An Loc, and the eventual fall of South Vietnam.

James H. Willbanks is General of the Army George C. Marshall Chair of Military History and director of the department of military history at the US Army Command and General Staff College in Leavenworth, Kansas. His books include A Raid Too Far: Operation Lam Son 719.


The Battle of An Loc could only be written effectively by a participant, and Willbanks was present as an advisor to an ARVN unit. But this is not just an eyewitness account. Utilizing newly discovered archival evidence and recently translated North Vietnamese after-action reports, Willbanks has reconstructed ... the nearly three-month long siege ... to answer the question that has plagued military historians since the war ended: was the Army of the Republic of Vietnam an effective fighting force? ... A fine book with rich, vibrant descriptions of combat, weapons, and command decisions. Willbanks writes from an insider's perspective [with] the discipline of a historian who knows what questions to ask.”

H-Net Reviews

“An informative and consuming account. It is an engrossing read ... for those who want to understand the battle of An Loc itself, the state of the war in 1972, and the sacrifices of those who advised the ARVN during the war's final years. A must-read for those who think the Vietnam War was only about defeating a jungle insurgency.”


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University Press Audiobooks