Synopses & Reviews
The monsoon winds swirling up from the South China Sea had doubled in magnitude as Marine Staff Sergeant Mike Sullivan stood on the roof of the American Embassy, watching North Vietnamese artillery pound Saigon’s airport. It was late in the afternoon of April 29, 1975, and for the past eight days the airstrip had been the busiest in the world as flight after flight of United States cargo planes ferried Vietnamese refugees, American civilians, and soldiers of both countries to safety while 150,000 North Vietnamese troops marched on the city. With Saigon now encircled and the airport bombed out, thousands were trapped.
Last Men Out tells the remarkable story of the drama that unfolded over the next twenty-four hours: the final, heroic chapter of the Vietnam War as improvised by a small unit of Marines, a vast fleet of helicopter pilots flying nonstop missions beyond regulation, and a Marine general who vowed to arrest any officer who ordered his choppers grounded while his men were still on the ground. It would become the largest-scale evacuation ever carried out — what many would call an American Dunkirk.
In a gripping, moment-by-moment narrative based on a wealth of recently declassified documents and indepth interviews, Bob Drury and Tom Clavin focus on the story of the eleven young Marines who were the last men to leave, rescued from the Embassy roof just moments before capture, having voted to make an Alamo-like last stand. As politicians in Washington struggled to put the best face on disaster and the American ambassador refused to acknowledge that the end had come and to evacuate, these courageous men held their ground and helped save thousands of lives. They and their fellow troops on the ground and in the air had no room for error as frenzy broke out in the streets and lashing rains and enemy fire began to pelt the city. One Marine pilot, Captain Gerry Berry, flew for eighteen straight hours and had to physically force the American ambassador onto his helicopter.
Drury and Clavin gained unprecedented access to the survivors, to the declassified “After-Action reports” of the operation, and to the transmissions among helicopter pilots, their officers, and officials in Saigon secretly recorded by the National Security Agency. They deliver a taut and stirring account of a turning point in American history which unfolds with the heart-stopping urgency of the best thrillers — a riveting true story finally told, in full, by those who lived it.
"The dramatic story of the chaotic last days of the Vietnam War in April 1975 is an iconic chapter in this controversial war. Books, indelible photos, and news footage have recorded the anarchy at the gates of the U.S. embassy and the departing helicopters loaded to the gills with panicked Vietnamese civilians, distraught State Department employees, and their U.S. Marine protectors. Journalists and authors Drury and Clavin (coauthors of Halsey's Typhoon) give a sprightly account of these events focused on the Marine Security Guards stationed in Saigon and a handful of provincial capitals, and the nearly impossible job they faced as the North Vietnamese Army moved in on the embassy and as U.S. Ambassador Graham Martin dithered while Saigon burned. It's an absorbing tale, filled with selfless and courageous actions by the Marines. The authors relate the experience in docudrama style, replete with reconstructed dialogue that will leave historically exacting readers wishing for more detailed documentation of their research. (May)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"This totally riveting and moving story tells how a small band of Marines risked everything to accomplish the harrowing evacuation of American personnel in the last days of the Vietnam War. You feel the fear of facing overwhelming odds, the frustration of a self-serving bureaucracy turning an orderly evacuation plan into a shambles, and the terror and despair of our shamefully abandoned allies. This book tells with authority and power how the light at the end of the dark tunnel of the Vietnam War proved to be the courage, nobility, and discipline of the United States Marine Corps." Karl Marlantes, author of Matterhorn: A Novel of the Vietnam War
"Last Men Out tells the real story behind one of the most-referenced but least-understood episodes in recent American history. It’s a gripping tale of heroism and heartbreak — and a reminder of the price paid by those who do our nation’s bidding." Nathaniel Fick, author of the NYT bestseller One Bullet Away
"An exciting, focused account....A thrilling narrative of bravery, bravado and loss." Kirkus
A riveting story of the last 11 United States soldiers to escape South Vietnam on April, 30, 1975, the day America ended its combat presence.
About the Author
Bob Drury is the author/co-author/editor of nine books, the last two in collaboration with Tom Clavin. His last solo book, The Rescue Season
, was adapted into a documentary by the History Channel. He has written for numerous publications, including the New York Times
, Vanity Fair
, Men’s Journal
, and GQ
. He is currently a contributing editor and foreign correspondent for Men’s Health
magazine, and has reported from Iraq, Darfur, Liberia, Afghanistan, Sarajevo, and Belfast. He lives in Manasquan, New Jersey.
Tom Clavin is the author or co-author of eleven books, and currently associate editor of The Medical Herald and The Spiritual Herald, two national monthly publications with a combined circulation of 100,000. For fourteen years he covered sports, business, and entertainment for the New York Times, Newsday, Good Housekeeping, Child, Cosmopolitan, Family Circle, Parade, Reader's Digest, Woman's Day, Golf, Men's Journal and other publications. Tom was also editor-in-chief of The Independent weekly newspaper chain for ten years. He lives in East Hampton, New York.