“There is little mention of tunnel rats in unit histories. Since there were no tunnel rat units as such, they being ad hoc teams and volunteering individuals, there are few separate studies and reports other than those buried within unit records.” Those are the words of the prolific military historian (and Vietnam veteran) Gordon L. Rottman in his latest book, Tunnel Rat in Vietnam (Osprey, 64 pp., $18.95, paper).
Rottman has added to the body of tunnel rat knowledge with this concise, heavily illustrated volume, number 161 in the British publisher Osprey’s Warrior series of books. Rottman follows the series formula and offers a no-frills, detailed accounting of what life was like for those who went down into the VC tunnels to ferret out the enemy, mixed in with boilerplate facts about the war and those who fought in it. The formula also includes lots of technical details and the book contains plenty of information on the pistols, knives, flashlights, and other things the tunnel rats carried below (and above) ground.
While the book has lots of photos of tunnel rats in Vietnam and while Rottman describes what the men went through, he never mentions the name of any individual who served as a tunnel rat. This is an odd omission in a book that showcases the unique, extremely dangerous, tension-filled job that tunnel rats did in the war.