Linebacker by Karl Eshmann

Linebacker: The Untold Story of the Air Raids over North Vietnam by Karl J. Eschmann
Published by Endeavour Press on January 15, 2017
Genres: History
Format: Ebook

In late 1972, the Vietnam peace talks were stalled, with the war at perhaps its most crucial point.

The United States was searching for a way to strangle North Vietnam’s war-waging capabilities by shutting down its supply pipelines in order to force it back to the negotiating table.

The solution: Linebacker II, a massive, intricately coordinated twelve-day assault by over 700 combat aircraft against vital targets around Hanoi and Haiphong, enemy cities heavily guarded by MiGs, SAM missiles, and radar-guided antiaircraft.

The Vietnam War – for me at least – is one of the least understood wars in modern history, and consequently I am always interested in reading books which look at some of the micro aspects of the world which dominated the lives of so many people in the 60s and 70s. The Operations Linebacker were a vicious air war that was as much a political war, as it was one fought over the skies of North Vietnam.

I found this book was an interesting look from the perspective of the air crews who were flying the missions against the North Vietnamese. While there are some bigger picture moments here, it is primarily concerned with the people who were doing the fighting and the dying on the ground and in the air. It was an engaging read from a personal perspective, that managed to break down a lot of the technical and military jargon, to tell the real stories.

If there is one failing, it is difficult to get an overall picture of the objectives and outcomes from the operations, and maybe that isn’t the point here. The author manages to paint an interesting picture of the evolving strategic landscape, as well as the forces on both sides, and while the focus is very much on the American forces, there is a certain amount of grudging respect for the opposition.

There is a lot more I would have liked to have seen from this book, but for what it was, I found it interesting and very readable, which is about all you can really ask from a nonfiction book. This book was originally published in the 1980s, and has been re-released through Endeavour Press.

Rating Report
Overall: four-stars

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