Fire Base Illingworth: An Epic True Story of Remarkable Courage Against Staggering Odds

Philip Keith, Author
Philip Keith. St. Martin’s, $25.99 (320p) ISBN 978-1-250-02495-4
Reviewed on: 07/22/2013
Release date: 10/29/2013
As he did in 2012’s Blackhorse Riders, former Navy aviator and Vietnam vet Keith tells a harrowing tale that centers on an exhausted, ragtag group of U.S. Army troops as they fought for their lives against a 400-man North Vietnamese Army regiment in a vicious engagement in 1970. The action described in the previous book took place on March 26; what Keith chronicles in this follow-up is a disastrous fight that played out in the early morning hours of April 1 at a remote firebase near the Cambodian border. Fifty-four Americans were wounded in the melee (which included hand-to-hand combat) and 25 perished—a casualty rate of nearly 40%. As the subtitle indicates, this is a paean to the American soldiers who fought that little-known battle—men Keith calls “brave warriors.” The heart of the book is a virtually minute-by-minute description of the fighting, fleshed out with some reconstructed dialogue, and based on two years of research that included interviews the author conducted with many of the American survivors. 8-page b&w photo insert and 1 map. Agent: Nat Sobel, Sobel Weber Associates. (Oct. 29)