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Boots on the Ground: America's War in Vietnam

The Vietnam War directly involved four U.S. presidents and cut short the lives of nearly 60,000 American soldiers during more than a decade of fighting. It polarized and divided our country in ways that still have not healed.

The history of this era is complex; the cultural impact extraordinary. But it’s the personal stories of eight people—six American soldiers, one American nurse, and one Vietnamese refugee—that create the heartbeat of Boots on the Ground. From dense jungles and terrifying firefights to chaotic medic rescues and evacuations, each individual experience reveals a different facet of the war and moves us forward in time. Alternating with these chapters are profiles of key American leaders and events, reminding us of all that was happening at home, from Kent State to Woodstock to Watergate.

Viking Young Readers 2018


Elizabeth Partridge uses the voices of presidents, infantrymen, nurses, protestors and others to bring readers an approachable and captivating history of the Vietnam War.


“High school students who led the March for Our Lives this spring are taking the same kinds of risks opponents of the Vietnam War took in their grandparents’ day…. Partridge builds bridges to this audience by using the words of Americans who were young at the time of the Vietnam War, and including a wealth of black-and-white photographs that illuminate diverse American experiences.” New York Times

“A necessary, conscientious look at a factious time in American and world history.” Booklist - starred review

“A personal, moving foray into the Vietnam War and its impact...Partridge’s narrative storytelling is incisive and masterfully woven together.”  Kirkus - starred review

“What makes the book powerful beyond the historical facts, though, is how the war irrefutably changed the people who were there.” School Library Journal - starred review

“This indispensable volume brings a wise and humane lens to a confused and brutal conflict.” Horn Book - starred review

“The tandem placement of well-written textbook-style information with soul-searing personal dramas makes this compulsively readable while putting events and terms often encountered episodically into context.” Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books - starred review 

“Partridge trains a lens on five men who fought on the ground, plus a medic, a field nurse, and a Vietnamese refugee. The chronicle vividly brings to light their daily lives, the discrimination some encountered, and their loyalties and moral sensitivity to the war’s unending brutality.” Publisher's Weekly - starred review

"Partridge fleshes out this riveting, clear-eyed military history with narratives drawn from extensive interviews with eight individuals, including a Vietnamese refugee, describing their time in country.” Chicago Tribune

author interviews

Interview with the Mercury News in San Jose, CA.

Interview at Children's Book Review

Nonfiction Authors Dig Deep. Melissa Stewart’s blog Three ways I’ve written about the Vietnam war: narrative nonfiction, historical fiction, and prose poetry (and how to understand what makes each one unique).

School Library Journal Teen Librarian Toolbox Why I wrote Boots on the Ground, the veterans I interviewed, protest and our democracy.

I did a series of radio interviews on AM and FM stations, conservative to liberal. Here's one I did with Joe Donahue at WAMC, and one with Dan Skinner at KPR.

AWARDS and Lists

National Book Award Longlist: Young People’s Literature

YALSA Excellence in Nonfiction Award Finalist

SCBWI Golden Kite Nonfiction for Older Readers

Notable Social Studies, National Council for the Social Studies and Children’s Book Council

Notable Children’s Books (Older)

Horn Book Fanfare

Publisher’s Weekly Best Twenty Books

Booklist Editors’ Choice Top of the List

New York Public Library: Best Books for Teens

Kirkus Best Young Adult Nonfiction

Orbis Pictus Recommended Books

Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books Blue Ribbon

Kirkus Best Young Adult Books

Nerdy Book Club Long Form Nonfiction

Nonfiction Detectives Best History Books

CCBC Choices from the Cooperative Children's Book Center


Texas Topaz Nonfiction Reading List

Tayshas Top Ten Book

Oklahoma Sequoyah Book Award Intermediate master list 2020

Oklahoma Sequoyah Book Award High School master list 2020

Vermont Green Mountain Book Award master list 2020