SELECTED BY MILITARY TIMES AS A BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR * SELECTED BY THE SOCIETY OF MIDLAND AUTHORS’ AS THE BEST NONFICTION BOOK OF THE YEAR
The New York Times bestselling author of In Harm’s Way and Horse Soldiers shares the powerful account of an American army platoon fighting for survival during the Vietnam War in “an important book….not just a battle story—it’s also about the home front” (The Today show).
On January 31, 1968, as many as 100,000 guerilla fighters and soldiers in the North Vietnamese Army attacked thirty-six cities throughout South Vietnam, hoping to dislodge American forces during one of the vital turning points of the Vietnam War. Alongside other young American soldiers in an Army reconnaissance platoon (Echo Company, 1/501) of the 101st Airborne Division, Stanley Parker, the nineteen-year-old son of a Texan ironworker, was suddenly thrust into savage combat, having been in-country only a few weeks. As Stan and his platoon-mates, many of whom had enlisted in the Army, eager to become paratroopers, moved from hot zone to hot zone, the extreme physical and mental stresses of Echo Company’s day-to-day existence, involving ambushes and attacks, grueling machine-gun battles, and impossibly dangerous rescues of wounded comrades, pushed them all to their limits and forged them into a lifelong brotherhood. The war became their fight for survival.
When they came home, some encountered a bitterly divided country that didn’t understand what they had survived. Returning to the small farms, beach towns, and big cities where they grew up, many of the men in the platoon fell silent, knowing that few of their countrymen wanted to hear the stories they lived to tell—until now. Based on interviews, personal letters, and Army after-action reports, The Odyssey of Echo Company recounts the searing tale of wartime service and homecoming of ordinary young American men in an extraordinary time and confirms Doug Stanton’s prominence as an unparalleled storyteller of our age.
About the Author
Doug Stanton is the author of the New York Times bestsellers In Harm’s Way: The Sinking of the USS Indianapolis and the Extraordinary Story of Its Survivors and Horse Soldiers: The Extraordinary Story of a Band of US Soldiers Who Rode to Victory in Afghanistan, which is the basis for a Jerry Bruckheimer–produced movie by the same name, starring Chris Hemsworth and Michael Shannon, to be released by Warner Bros. in 2018. He attended Hampshire College and the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, The New York Times Book Review, Time, The Washington Post, Men’s Journal, The Daily Beast, Newsweek, Esquire, and Outside, where he has been a contributing editor. Stanton is a founder of the National Writers Series, a year-round book festival, and lives in his hometown of Traverse City, Michigan, with his wife, Anne Stanton, and their three children, John, Katherine, and Will.
“Doug Stanton, one of our most artful practitioners of literary nonfiction, has long had a knack for finding stories that put a human face on war. Here is raw combat captured in all its pathos, exhilaration, terror, and sense of brotherhood. Novelistic in detail and compulsively readable, Stanton’s searing tale of war and homecoming will soon find its place on a rarefied shelf alongside Matterhorn, A Bright Shining Lie, The Things They Carried, and We Were Soldiers Once . . . and Young—which is to say, among the classics of the Vietnam War.” —Hampton Sides, author of The Kingdom of Ice, Blood and Thunder, and Ghost Soldiers
"From harrowing scenes of battle to those of heart-rending tenderness, I felt I’d joined the young paratroopers of Echo Company in their journey through the Tet Offensive of 1968. Doug Stanton writes about the personal for the millions. It’s an amazing story of a group of young men who lived history.” —Karl Marlantes, author of Matterhorn
“The Odyssey of Echo Company is a majestic, masterful book. I couldn’t put it down, even in its most aching, tearful moments. War has such a dark heart, and Doug Stanton doesn’t shy away from that, but he also shows us the better hearts of human beings, and that’s what makes this book so profoundly moving and unforgettable.” —David Finkel, author of Thank You for Your Service and Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist
“Although the characters in Doug Stanton’s newest book are ordinary Americans from unexceptional backgrounds, odyssey is the right word to describe their harrowing experiences in the Vietnam War. There was a Homeric quality in their battle to survive the Tet Offensive, as well as in their homecoming, when they found themselves strangers in their own land. In this tale of men at war, Stanton once again proves himself to be both a superb journalist and a master storyteller.” —Philip Caputo, author of A Rumor of War and Some Rise by Sin
“Doug Stanton has done it again. In The Odyssey of Echo Company we go to war in Vietnam, up close and personal with patriotic young working-class Americans who take us through their daily lives of brutal face-to-face combat and how it changed them forever. This is a book for all Americans to read for the enduring lessons of what happens when we commit our precious young to the ravages of combat. It is a civic duty to read The Odyssey of Echo Company.” —Tom Brokaw
“Doug Stanton is a superb nonfiction writer who grabs you and holds you from first page to last. Readers who follow him on this odyssey through Vietnam and the American psyche will never forget it.” —David Maraniss, author of They Marched into Sunlight
“Gathered in this fine book are the stories of a few soldiers in one reconnaissance platoon in one company who were in the worst of the fighting in 1967–68. Doug Stanton has captured the horror, the tragedy, the extreme courage, and the devoted brotherhood of these men in exceptional and sensitive detail. They are not stories for the fainthearted. But they are emotionally rewarding for a reader to experience.” —John Laurence, author of The Cat from Hue: A Vietnam War Story
“We are finally ready to learn about Vietnam, and no book tells the story better than this one.” —Library Journal, starred review
“Doug Stanton has written a powerful story that not only delves into combat but what makes a real warrior. He discusses the intricate home relationships that help to mold soldiers, and their relationships within the unit that produces a cohesive combat unit. A tremendous book, I highly recommend it. Like his other two books this was hard to put down.” — Brigadier General (Ret) Remo Butler, U.S. Army Special Forces
“A highly readable, dramatic, often heart-tugging story of the Tet effort from an all-American grunt’s viewpoint.” —MilitaryTimes
“Doug Stanton has crafted a compelling portrait of the men of Echo Company, innocent and vulnerable young Americans who faced brutal fighting during the Tet Offensive. Against the broad tableau of the Vietnam War, Stanton has masterfully reported the lives and losses of this small reconnaissance platoon and the rawness of combat they endured. It is one of the most intimate war stories of our time.” —Robert Giles, Curator (ret.), Nieman Foundation for Journalism, Harvard University