Arts and Culture

It’s been nearly 50 years since public opinion on the Vietnam War began to change, and one of the biggest reasons for that shift was the battle for the city of Hue in January 1968.

Journalist Mark Bowden’s latest book, “Hue 1968,” examines the battle and its aftermath. He’s also the author of the best-selling “Black Hawk Down.” Bowden will be in Louisville Wednesday night for a Filson Historical Society event and he spoke with me about whether we’ve learned anything from the battle and what exactly happened there. You can listen to our conversation in the media player above.

Mark Bowden on what happened in Hue:

“Well, the major thing that happened was that 10,000 enemy troops took the city of Hue, which was the third largest city in South Vietnam and they did so in a complete surprise. The struggle to get the city back was hampered initially by the refusal of the American command in particular, to believe that the enemy forces had amassed in such great numbers in the city.”

Bowden on what we’ve learned from the battle:

“We do learn and then we forget. I think, frankly, is that one of the downsides of democracy is that our government changes frequently and the priorities of each administration change. And very often the domestic political priorities that shape who wins the White House or who controls the congress involve issues that don’t necessarily match up well with the reality in places around the world.”

Bowden will speak Wednesday evening at 6:30 at The Temple, Congregation Adath Israel Brith Sholom.

Bill Burton is the Morning Edition host for WFPL News.