Saturday, January 24, 2009

Vietnam: The Australian War by Paul Ham

I'm not much of a bookworm. I enjoy reading the news, sports, financials, gossip, etc but not so much the books. Especially not novels. Don't need any of that gushy stuff. There was a book sale on at Myer after Christmas and I bought a travel book for Hong Kong and Macau where we are planning to visit. Whilst browsing the book section one book in particular caught my eye. Vietnam: The Australian War by Paul Ham.

There were a few reasons that I was attracted to it:

1) Vietnam is both a blight on our history and a remarkable story.
2) The history in Australian schools teaches you nothing about the Vietnam War.
3) Vietnam veterans have received little recognition for their service and I wanted to know why.
4) The book was shortlisted for the Prime Minister's Literary Awards 2008.
5) It was written by Paul Ham. Perhaps I'm a little nepotistic.

I bought it even though its genre wasn't on sale.

There's some 665 pages to read but it only took me four weeks to finish as I used every opportunity walking to the bus and whilst on the bus to stick my nose into it. And it was a fabulous read. I learnt so much about the reasons for Australia going to war, what they did when they were there, the succession of blundering and interfering Australian governments, the protesters against Australia's involvement, the famous battles that I only knew by name (Tet Offensive, battle of Long Tan, etc), the atrocities and suffering, the guts and determination, the life of the soldier, poisons used, conscription, the return home and why the soldiers weren't welcomed back.

Each chapter focuses on a particular aspect of life, or a battle or something happening in Australia. The book brought to life, at least for me, some of what these men were experiencing. It is about the war that the Australians fought and not so much about the Americans. The attitude of the Australian government and anti-war protesters absolutely disgusted me.

I would thoroughly recommend this book if you want a no nonsense report about the Vietnam war from an Australian perspective. And I can't wait to get my hands on another book by Paul Ham - Kokoda.

Vietnam: The Australian War by Paul Ham.


Anonymous said...

Interesting. Annette

Anonymous said...

Kokoda would interset me too, as your grandfather was there.

Iris Flavia said...

Kim Phucs "The Girl in The Picture" might be an interresting read also. Not a novel!

Hammy said...

Kim Phuc's photo is in the book. Of course. How could it not be when it is one of the most easily recognisable photos from times of war?