Our Year of War by Daniel Bolger

Ever since I was a kid, the Vietnam War has fascinated me. I try to read as many of the new books on the war that come onto the market. Daniel Bolger recently wrote one on the future Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and his brother Tom in Our Year of War: Two Brothers, Vietnam, and a Nation Divided.

Bolger brings to the book his experience as an officer who served in the U.S. Army and commanded troops in both Iraq and Afghanistan. He retired as a Lieutenant General. His insight is invaluable when he examines the many faults with the U.S. approach to the Vietnam War – everything from the individual replacement system to the strategy and tactics used by the Americans.

The book is an awesome account of Chuck and Tom Hagel’s year in Vietnam (1968 – which covered the Tet Offensive and numerous large operations).  It not only recounts their exploits, but also their diverging views on the war. Chuck viewed the war more favorably than Tom. Their reasons were based on their temperaments and their experiences – Tom had a few more psychologically damaging experiences than Chuck.

Bolger goes beyond the standard chronological account of soldiers in combat. He includes the events that were occurring in the U.S. at the time the Hagels were there – including the assassination of Martin Luther King and some of the race riots that rocked the U.S. This inclusion helped put into context the feelings of the troops as they fought an unseen enemy while their home cities were burning.

The book is an excellent look at not only how two brothers coped with war, but also how the U.S. changed with the brothers as the Vietnam War dragged on.


Our Year of War Book Cover Our Year of War
Daniel P. Bolger
Da Capo Press
November 7, 2017

Two brothers--Chuck and Tom Hagel--who went to war in Vietnam, fought in the same unit, and saved each other's life. They disagreed about the war, but they fought it together. 1968. America was divided. Flag-draped caskets came home by the thousands. Riots ravaged our cities. Assassins shot our political leaders. Black fought white, young fought old, fathers fought sons. And it was the year that two brothers from Nebraska went to war. In Vietnam, Chuck and Tom Hagel served side by side in the same rifle platoon. Together they fought in the Mekong Delta, battled snipers in Saigon, chased the enemy through the jungle, and each saved the other's life under fire. But when their one-year tour was over, these two brothers came home side-by-side but no longer in step--one supporting the war, the other hating it. Former Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and his brother Tom epitomized the best, and withstood the worst, of the most tumultuous, shocking, and consequential year in the last half-century. Following the brothers' paths from the prairie heartland through a war on the far side of the world and back to a divided America, Our Year of War tells the story of two brothers at war--a gritty, poignant, and resonant story of a family and a nation divided yet still united.

About the author

Jeff Grim

Jeff Grim has been a reader all of his life. He has had a particular interest in military history, any war at any time. His fascination with military history has brought him to an interest in historical fiction where the history comes alive with fictitious heroes and villains. Recently, Jeff has become interested in historical mysteries set in various time periods.

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