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Book Review - Going Back – Australian veterans return to Viet Nam

By: Paul Ham (547/35729)
Publisher: Harper Collins ISBN: 978-0-7322-8737-0

‘Surely God weeps,’ an Australian soldier wrote in despair of the conflict in Vietnam. But no God intervened to shorten the years of carnage and devastation in this most controversial of wars.

Seen as the last ‘hot’ frontline of the Cold War, the ten-year struggle in the rice paddies and jungles of South Vietnam unleashed the most devastating firepower on the Vietnamese nation and visited terrible harm on civilians and soldiers.

Yet the Australian forces applied tactics that were very different from those of the Americans. Guided by their commanders’ experience of jungle combat, Australian troops operated with stealth, deception and restraint in pursuing a ‘better war’.

Drawing on hundreds of accounts by soldiers, politicians, aid workers, entertainers and the Vietnamese people, Paul Ham reconstructs for the first time the full history of our longest military campaign.

From the commitment to engage, through the fight over conscription and the rise of the anti-war movement, to the tactics and horror of the battlefield, Ham exhumes the truth about this politicians’ war – which sealed the fate of 50,000 Australian servicemen and women.

More than 500 soldiers were killed and thousands wounded. Those who made it home returned to a hostile and ignorant country and a reception that scarred them forever.

This is their story.

November 2007


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