The Brown Water War at 50

A Retrospective on the Coastal and Riverine Conflict in Vietnam

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The Brown Water War at 50 presents the work of renowned historians and Vietnam War veterans who describe and interpret the U.S. Navy’s major combat operations in South Vietnam and on its coast. The scope of the book includes the river war in South Vietnam’s Mekong Delta, the coastal patrol, and the intelligence campaign. To complement text, the authors have added images and maps from the U.S. Navy archives, U.S. Naval Institute collection and from private collections. They also provide a list of the most authoritative works on the subject.

In this retrospective, Cutler and Marolda describe not only the actions of the warships, aircraft, and river vessels involved in one of America’s longest wars but also the professional skill, dedication, and courage of the Navy men and women who went in “harm’s way” in Vietnam. The authors detail the development and combat experience of the Navy’s River Patrol Force and the Army-Navy Mobile Riverine Force as they fought the Viet Cong. They relate in full the heroism of Medal of Honor recipients Boatswain’s Mate 1st Class James E. Williams and Lieutenant Thomas G. Kelley, and the leadership of Vice Admiral Elmo R. Zumwalt Jr.

Intelligence which, until recently, was classified tells the story of the Navy’s intelligence effort in South Vietnam and describes the operations of SEAL and Naval Intelligence Officers at the tactical level. In short, this book takes an in depth look at the Navy’s major and essential role in a conflict that marked a milestone in modern American history.

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Editorial Reviews

"The Brown Water War at 50 is an achievement of the highest order—a collection of revelatory and insightful historical essays about an often-neglected but crucial aspect of the Vietnam War, the work of the U.S. Navy on the coastal and inland waters of South Vietnam. Editors and contributors—and Vietnam War Navy historians par excellence—Ed Marolda and Tom Cutler deftly weave in the personal and the historical in this brilliant retrospective."—Marc Leepson, Arts Editor, Senior Writer, and columnist, The VVA Veteran magazine, and editor of The Webster’s New World Dictionary of the Vietnam War
"This new volume is a series of essays that provide an excellent retrospective on Cutler’s eminent history of Vietnamese coastal and riverine campaigns, numerous historians offer differing viewpoints on the effectiveness of these operations, as well as retelling the stories of the sailors and soldiers that participated in this often-forgotten aspect of America’s long involvement in Southeast Asia. All of the essays have copious endnotes, and the authors provide an excellent further reading list that covers the entire range of naval operations during the war. The volume provides an excellent update to Cutler’s classic history of Vietnam riverine operations, providing a 50-year perspective of how the Navy rose to the operational challenge of navigating in an unforgiving environment against a determined foe."—New York Journal of Books
"This well-written and deeply researched history is comprised of twelve essays and well worth reading."—Vietnam Veterans of America, Books in Review