JAMES T. GILLAM is professor of history at Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia. He holds a doctorate in Chinese history from The Ohio State University and has served as editor of the Southeastern Review of Asian Studies. Gillam has published numerous essays for scholarly journals and contributed expert commentary on a History Channel documentary about tunnel warfare.
"Gillam's writing is vivid as he describes the first time he killed a man when he and an NVA soldier fired upon each other from 20 feet, only Gillam did not miss. The war stories become more intense as he describes a one-on-one battle inside a tunnel in February 1970 where he was forced to beat a Viet Cong soldier to death only to realize after the fact by feeling his fallen foe's chest that it was probably a woman that he killed. . . . The intensity climaxes when Gillam is sent to Cambodia, where he is convinced he will not survive. Once again he participates in extreme combat that he describes in stunning fashion."--Military History of the West "More interesting are Gillam's personal recollections. These range from bizarre (exchanging clothes with a dead soldier because the corpse's uniform was cleaner, killing a cobra in his bunker with a grenade, and suffering four broken ribs in an encounter with two orangutans) to terrifying (strangling a Vietnamese to death in a dark tunnel). . . . Gillam's account of the planning and execution of his first ambush is so thorough that this reviewer feels he could carry one out himself."--Michigan War Studies Review "Life and Death in the Central Highlands vividly recounts the struggle to endure under sanity-destroying life-and-death pressure, and paints an unforgettable personal picture of the Vietnam War. Highly recommended, especially for military biography collections."--Midwest Book Review "Gillam, a 'shake and bake' sergeant, presents a good account of small unit infantry action during the war. He is very good at explaining the weaponry, tactics, and living conditions in the field."--James E. Westheider, author ofThe African-American Experience in Vietnam "[Gillam] looks back on his experiences of Vietnam not solely as a participant in the war, but also with the critical eye of a trained historian."-- Journal of Military History review by James H. Willbanks, author of The Tet Offensive "Jim Gillam experienced real combat in his Vietnam tour. His stunning accounts of killing and avoiding being killed ring true."--Allan R. Millett, author of Semper Fidelis and coauthor of A War to Be Won