Book Review: 13 Cent Killers, The 5th Marine Snipers in Vietnam by John J. Culbertson

Link for the book @ Amazon:
Paperback $7.99
Kindle $6.29

I borrowed this book from the library for reading/review.

Yes, I know this is December; but this is the first book I've read this year for the
War Through The Generations Challenge--2010--Vietnam War. I have 2 more books in my to be read pile to read for this challenge. Last year the challenge was World War II and I have continued to read books on this subject through this year as well (see the list on the side bar of this blog).

I have to be honest in that I would not know if what the author wrote in this book was accurate or not; I am inept, daft, dim, when it comes to firearms and ammunition. Even though I have grown up around firearms my whole life, these tools were my dad's and my husband's.
The language used by the author, his slang, I've heard many times especially from a brother in-law (who has now passed from this life). This language was not something new to me and I was not shocked, or lost.
The author made mention about the M-14 rifle that it was a battle proven dependable firearm, these were replaced with cheap pieces of plastic the M-16. I had heard my brother in-law make mention of this before, but in more colorful language.
My memories of the Vietnam War was from the evening news while we ate supper. I was born in 1964 and I grew up knowing about Vietnam; but I was a kid, Vietnam was far away from my suburban life in Houston, Texas. And what did I know or understand about war? I had not known anyone who had served in Vietnam until I started dating my now husband, and I met his older sisters husband Buddy. Buddy was in the Army and he served from 1967-1968 in Vietnam. Buddy told many stories about what he had experienced, I listened dumb-founded, albeit quietly. Buddy always treated me with loving respect as if I were his own daughter, but Buddy was not someone that you should ever cross, not ever. Quietly and quickly like a panther he would take you down.
Back to the current book I just finished on the Vietnam War Challenge!

Published by Presidio Press, Ballantine Books--Random House January 2003, 288 pages
Vietnam War/Marines/Military/Weapons

13 Cent Killers is about the 5th Marine Regiment Sniper Platoon during late 1966 and into 1967 in the Vietnam War. The author stated early in the book that 1967 was the height of the Vietnam War, there were 150 battles fought in I Corp and 4000 combat patrols that year. In 13 Cent Killers the author gives his own interpretation: in our government and the decisions that were made for the war, the weaponry that was chosen, the history of the Vietnam War, and the protesting back in the states. He also gives the reader information on how the sniper school was started in California during this time period. It was at first a 3 week course, but was then shortened to 2 weeks. This course was taught by a retired World War II and Korean War Veteran. The author during the course of the book gives information on the combat patrols that they took part in, how the battles played out, those that were injured and those that did not make it. The author gives the reader adequate definitions on common words used: Vietcong, North Vietnamese, NVA---there is a glossary in the back of the book.
I felt this was an interesting book. I am glad that I read it. I feel it was a good jumping off point for me in reading a book on the Vietnam War (considering it was my first introduction to this war).
The book has much of the author's own opinions and feelings not only for the Marines that he proudly served with, but with the American government, and with the protester's that were back in the states.
There are points in the book that colorful language is used, but not words that I've not heard before--another words I did not need a glossary for them.

For all of those who have served, thank you!

Blissful Reading!


  1. I'm going to have to add this to my to-read list. I suspect I'll be reading WWII and Vietnam books next year even though the challenge topic will change. We'll get this posted on WTTG for you soon.


Post a Comment