“Readers will never again be able to delude themselves that men who go to war can walk away from it unscarred, even if those scars take years to surface.”Robert Timberg, author of Blue-Eyed Boy and The Nightingale’s Song, a NY Times Notable Book of the Year
“As a veteran of that era, I felt every word of every page. Putzel has delivered a gripping and touching work of art.”W. Craig Reed, New York Times bestselling author of Cold War III: How the U.S. Navy can Defeat Putin and Halt Climate Change
"A great story...that needs to be told"Bob Schieffer, CBS News
"An 'All Quiet on the Western Front' of the war in Vietnam"Bill Kovach, former New York Times and Atlanta Journal-Constitution editor, co-author of 'Blur: How to Know What's True in the Age of Information Overload'
"This book is a triumph of both dogged, fair, accurate journalism and a singularly brilliant immersion into a world most readers will find literally incredible."Randolph C. Harrison, combat veteran, journalist, author

The Price They Paid is the stunning and dramatic true story of a legendary air cavalry commander in Vietnam and the soldiers who followed him into the most intensive helicopter warfare ever—and how that brutal experience has changed their lives in the forty years since the war ended.

Read a sample chapter

Michael's Blog

The Man Who Saved a President

Posted by Michael Putzel • October 10, 2015

WASHINGTON–Jerry Parr, the quiet, quick-thinking bodyguard who saved President Ronald Reagan’s life in the minutes after an attempted assassination, has died at 85. I don’t write news or obits anymore, but I got to know Parr after the events of that fateful day brought us together.

I was the Associated Press White House correspondent covering Reagan that day at what was expected to be a routine speech in the basement ballroom of the Washington Hilton Hotel, 1.4 miles north of the presidential mansion. As soon as the speech ended, those of us traveling in the motorcade scampered up the steps and out onto the Hilton’s private drive to watch Reagan come out a door reserved for VIPs and get into his armored limousine parked at the curb.

Jerry Parr with President Reagan […] READ MORE

A Famous Photo and Its Sad Backstory

Posted by Michael Putzel • October 09, 2015

Associated Press photographer Sal Veder’s iconic image of a family welcoming its POW dad home from Vietnam has personified the joy of freedom for more than 40 years.

Veder recently retold the story to The Guardian of how he got that Pulitzer Prize-winning image on March 17, 1973, at Travis Air Force Base in California. Bill Dowell, a long-ago colleague of mine, pointed out that the photo hardly hinted at the truth: The day after he was released after more than five years in captivity and before he was flown home to the States, Air Force Lt. Col. Robert L. Stirm received a letter from his wife Loretta (2nd from right) telling him their marriage was over. There followed a protracted and bitter dispute between the returned POW and his wife that split the family […] READ MORE