A Shau Valor

American Combat Operations in the Valley of Death, 1963–1971

Col. Thomas R Yarborough

In this work a decorated combat veteran, plus bestselling author, turns his sights on the true focal point of the Vietnam War. He unveils a chronicle of unsung U.S. courage in battle, while also acknowledging that the second the U.S. decided to give up on its fight for the A Shau Valley it was clear that the war had been lost . . .
Date Published :
July 2020
Publisher :
Illustration :
16pp photos
Format Available    QuantityPrice
Binding. : Hardback
ISBN : 9781612003542
Pages : 336
Dimensions : 9 X 6 inches
Stock Status : In stock
Binding. : Paperback
ISBN : 9781612008912
Pages : 312
Dimensions : 9 X 6 inches
Stock Status : In stock
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Winner of the Military Writers Society of America's 2017 Gold Medal for History

Finalist, 2016 Army Historical Society Distinguished Writing Award.

Throughout the Vietnam War, one focal point persisted where the Viet Cong guerrillas and ARVN were not a major factor, but where the trained professionals of the North Vietnamese and U.S. armies repeatedly fought head-to-head. A Shau Valor is a thoroughly documented study of nine years of American combat operations encompassing the crucial frontier valley and a 15-mile radius around it—the most deadly killing ground of the entire Vietnam War.

Beginning in 1963 Special Forces A-teams established camps along the valley floor, followed by a number of top-secret Project Delta reconnaissance missions through 1967. Then, U.S. Army and Marine Corps maneuver battalions engaged in a series of sometimes controversial thrusts into the A Shau designed to disrupt NVA infiltrations and to kill enemy soldiers, part of what came to be known as Westmoreland’s “war of attrition.”

The various campaigns included Operation Pirous in 1967, 1968’s Operations Delaware and Somerset Plain, 1969’s Operations Dewey Canyon, Massachusetts Striker, and Apache Snow—which included the infamous battle for Hamburger Hill—culminating with Operation Texas Star and the vicious fight for and humiliating evacuation of Fire Support Base Ripcord in the summer of 1970, the last major U.S. battle of the war.

By 1971 the fighting had once again shifted to the realm of small Special Forces reconnaissance teams assigned to the ultra-secret Studies and Observations Group—SOG. Other works have focused on individual battles or units, but A Shau Valor is the first to study the nine-year campaign—for all its courage and sacrifice—chronologically and within the context of other historical, political and cultural events.

About The Author

Colonel Thomas R. Yarborough served as an Air Force pilot for 28 years and flew two combat tours in Vietnam as a forward air controller. His combat decorations include the Silver Star, Distinguished Flying Cross, Purple Heart, Air Medal, and the Vietnamese Gallantry Cross with Bronze Star. A former professor and department chair at Indiana University, he now lives in West Springfield, Virginia, where he maintains ties to the academic community by writing articles for various scholarly journals and periodicals. He is the author of the critically acclaimed book, Da Nang Diary.




1. Into the Valley of Death
2. The Rise and Fall of Camp A Shau
3. Project Delta Invades the Valley of Death
4. SOG: West of the A Shau
5. Annus Horribilis: 1968
6. Operation Dewey Canyon
7. Eleven Times Up Hamburger Hill
8. Ripcord: Valor in Defeat
9. A Shau Fini: The Ninth Year
10. A Bard for the Grunts




Colonel Thomas Yarborough spent his time in the air over the A Shau Valley, but he has detailed knowledge of what took place on the ground. He insightfully covers the infantryman's hardships, difficulties, and physical price paid. Thanks to his extensive research, study, and personal knowledge,Tom describes the nine-year war in the A Shau in riveting detail. This book is a "must read" for all interested in why we did not close and win that war.

- Wesley L. Fox, Colonel USMC (Ret), Medal of Honor recipient and author of Marine Rifleman: Forty-Three Years in the Corps.

"Tom Yarborough provides a gripping, fast paced, page-turning account of America's finest warriors who fought in and above the most strategically important terrain in Vietnam. A masterful blend of history, national strategy, and warrior ethos which simultaneously highlights leadership attributes at every level. A must read for all warriors, scholars, and students of leadership. Additionally, it is a great tribute to the warriors who fought, and those who died, in the A Shau Valley."

- General H. Hugh Shelton, U.S. Army (Ret), A Shau veteran, 14th Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff, and author of Without Hesitation: The Odyssey of an American Warrior

"There is such a great deal we still don't know about some of the theaters of the Vietnam War - Yarborough writes as though he were there when it happened, such is the vividness with which he recounts some of the events..."

- Books Monthly

“Covers eight years of military action in chronological, episodic fashion in this detailed military history. The A Shau Valley, located about 25 miles south of the Vietnamese city of Hue and near the border with Laos, was a main entry route into South Vietnam for North Vietnamese forces on the Ho Chi Minh Trail. Widely known as the ‘Valley of Death,’ this area was the site of many vicious engagements between the North Vietnamese Army and the U.S. Military. . . . Yarborough’s volume is the first that looks solely at fighting in the A Shau during virtually the entire conflict.”

- Publisher’s Weekly

"...while much of this ground has been covered before in many books, this is the first volume that looks solely at fighting in the A Shau during virtually the entire Vietnam War. It is a worthy endeavor."

- The VVA Veteran

"... arguably the first full length account of American combat in the valley, stands as a sterling testament to the extraordinary courage- no less than 15 Medals of Honor were awarded for actions in and around the valley- displayed by the men who fought and died there."

- Vietnam Magazine

"...author writes a history of the war as exemplified by actions, operations, successes and failures that took place in a fixed physical setting. It is a novel approach. It is more narrow than a history of the war but broader in scope than a detailed examination of a single battle... Saving the best for his Epilogue, the author may have unintentionally asked a question that should have been considered then and should be considered today. “Despite America’s enormous expenditure of firepower and men, MACV’s strategy for winning the A Shau was neither realistic nor focused enough to ensure a successful outcome. Only taking and holding territory could have done that, something that was never seriously considered by American leadership. In effect, self-delusion substituted for strategy.”
Applying the lessons of the A Shau to today’s conflicts one can also ask if its mistakes are being repeated today."

- The Drop: The Journal of the Special Forces Association, Winter 2016

"The North Vietnamese Army and the US Army clashed frequently in this strategic valley near the Ho Chi Min trail. The author covers the nine years of fighting that occurred there."

- Military Heritage

"This is a truly remarkable, well-written, thought-provoking book...will appeal to a wide audience interested in gaining a better understanding of the Vietnam War"

- On Point: The Journal of Army History

"Yarborough's work is replete with repeated references to the valor of those who served in this hotly-contested section of Vietnam... Highly recommended for those interested in this important part of the War in Vietnam."

- Military Writer’s Society of America

"A a must-read book for anyone wanting to understand the success and failures of the U.S. military on the battlefields in Vietnam."

- The Journal of America's Military Past

“Colonel Tom Yarborough supplies a ‘you are there’ sense of the sights, sounds, and even the smells of one of Vietnam’s bloodiest battlefi elds. The author’s account has all the hallmarks of firstrate history: a spellbinding narrative; the ability to re-create the intensity of combat; impeccable research; and insightful historical judgments. This is a powerful, riveting story about the A Shau Valley that has never been told until now.”

- Command Sergeant Major Bennie G. Adkins, U.S. Army (Ret), A Shau veteran, Medal of Honor recipient, and author of The Battles at Special Forces Camp A Shau

“…thoroughly documented and thought provoking…”

- SirReadaLot.org

"Having read only 30-40 Vietnam books, I have no claim to expertise, but this is the best I’ve ever read.[…] The writing style is excellent and coverage is superb. The author was a Forward Air Controller and brings an immediacy and insight into the horrendous nature of the business."

- Miniature Wargames

"A book like no other on the Vietnam War, it pulls no punches and puts the reader right there amid the jungle."

- Gun Mart

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