Graphic account of the first major clash of the Vietnam War Detailed description of how thr fighting unfolded Draws on first hand accounts from both sides On August 18, 1965, regiment fought regiment on the Van Tuong Peninsula near the new Marine base at Chu Lai. On the American side were three battalions of Marines under the command of Colonel Oscar Peatross, a hero of two previous wars. His opponent was the 1st Viet Cong Regiment commanded by Nguyen Dinh Trong, a veteran of many fights against the French and the South Vietnamese. Codenamed Operation Starlite, this action was a resounding success for the Marines and its result was cause for great optimism about America’s future in Vietnam. This was the operation that sent the Vietnam War into the headlines across the nation and into the minds of Americans, where it took up residence for more than a decade. Starlite was the first step in Viet Nam’s becoming America’s tar baby. Marine participants from private to colonel were interviewed during the book’s research phase. The battle is seen from the mud level, by those who were at the point of the spear. But this is not just another war story told exclusively from the American side. In researching the book, the author talked with and walked the battlefield with men who fought with the 1st Viet Cong Regiment. All were accomplished combat veterans years before the U.S. entry into the war. The book also looks at the ongoing conflict between the U.S. Army and the U.S. Marines about the methodology of the Vietnam War. With decades of experience with insurrection and rebellion, the Marines were institutionally oriented to base the struggle on pacification of the population. The Army, on the other hand, having largely trained to meet the Soviet Army on the plains of Germany, opted for search-and-destroy missions against Communist main force units. The history of the Vietnam War is littered with many “what ifs.” This may be the biggest of them.