The Long Range War
Sniping in Viet Nam
By Peter Senich

1998
By Scott Powers

This book is filled with accurately researched data on the development of U.S. sniper systems in Viet Nam. It is dry, dull reading. If you have attention deficit disorder, DO NOT BUY THIS BOOK! For the vast portion of the reading, I found my attention wandering, my focus drifting, and my interest waning.

That being said, if you are a military historian, a special weapons aficionado, or a trivia freak, you will most likely love this work. Do not get me wrong, while it IS work to read, the book does have enough details to make the most data-starved junky die a happy man. The main problem with the book is its layout. The main body of text is rather small for the size. It is surrounded by asides, photos with very lengthy text, historical correspondence, and other minutia. The effect of it all makes following the main text very difficult. You are torn between reading the main text, hopping about to scan the asides, and trying to follow the historical correspondence.

On the plus side, the book covers every aspect of 60s-era systems- development from our first barely-usable scope to a plethora of noise suppression systems. The main thrust of the work covers the U.S. Army's development of the very successful M-14 National Match to the XM-21 Sniper system. Covered in great detail is the development of the Leatherwood Automatic Ranging Telescope (ART) and all its variants. His research is impeccable, if dryly delivered. There were few first-hand accounts of sniping in this work and, to be fair, that was not its focus. Senich skipped over Marine sniping in this volume and pointed out that he will cover that particular saga in another work. At a guess, I believe that will be One Round War.

For all the detailed coverage, there were a few times when I wish Senich could have dallied on a particular point and gone into better detail. I found some points repetitive -- usually the ones in which I was less interested. That, of course, is a totally subjective opinion. Yours will most likely differ.

I can, with a clear conscience, recommend this work. While I did not feel it was up to the standard Peter Senich set when he wrote "The German Sniper, 1914-1945" (a remarkable and interesting work!) but, for all that, it is worth owning. Your military history collection would not be complete with out it.



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