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Publisher's Summary

The definitive account of Australia's involvement in the Vietnam War, by best-selling author of Kokoda.

Seen as the last 'hot' frontline of the Cold War, the 10 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 battlefi eld, 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.

©2008 Paul Ham; (P)2008 Bolinda Publishing

Critic Reviews

"It is the comprehensiveness of Paul Ham's blockbuster on Vietnam that is both enticing and chilling to the core, in what is uncovered and laid out with precision and compelling evidence." (The Australian)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall

Fascinating detailed account

Anyone interested in Vietnam, the good, bad & ugly should listen to this Australian perspective. If it has a fault it lies in that not a lot of attention is given to the Air Force & Navy roles in this conflict, but the detail on the Army role is exceptional. There are passages that will make you both laugh and cry but most importantly will give you a birds eye view of the Australian Forces role in this conflict. Well worth the listen.

15 of 15 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Paul
  • Waurn Ponds, Australia
  • 10-03-09

Brilliant and Entertaining

This is a fascinating book. Certainly it is a book about the Australian Army's war, but it also details the context of Australia's decision to become involved. The book covers the background in Australia including; domestic politics, conscription, the peace movement, families of service personnel, the media, etc. There is a relatively balanced discussion of the the North Vietnamese perspective and and their attitudes to Australia's involvement. The book covers, all of the significant actions, the use of weapons such as napalm, cluster bombs, tanks, and chemical defoliants. There is an excellent chapter on the impact of the service personal and the Vietnamese themselves of these and other chemicals. Overall it is a fascinating book. Some of the stories anger you, frustrate you and others make you laugh. The narration is fantastic. Peter Byrne offers listeners dead-pan statements, lively characterisations and emotive oration all when appropriate. Even thought the material is occasionally dry, the treatment given by both the text and narration make this easy to listen to from start to finish. If you want a book about battles only, you will be skipping forward often. however if you want to know about the war from the perspective of individual soldiers, civilians, prostitutes, politicians, children, etc, you will get a lot out of this book. I recommend it to anyone who lived military history, Australian history or just loves a well written, non-fiction essay about people who's experiences are as amazing as they are so very human.

9 of 9 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Judith
  • Chesapeake, VA, United States
  • 05-19-10

Vietnam: The Australian War (Unabridged)

I thought I knew a lot about Vietnam because two of my brothers were there. But this audio book opened my eyes to more!

8 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

'It could hardly get worse"

This is the Australian experience of Vietnam.
The times, the events, the politics, the personalities, the news items, the photographs, the distress are all familiar to me.
It is said that history is written by the powerful .
Paul Ham does capture a time and does describe the time by direct reference to many who experienced the events of the period and the war. It is especially for that reason I give this 5 stars.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

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  • Steven
  • NEDLANDS, Australia
  • 04-16-12

The truth FINALLY!!

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Absolutley because it is a truthful, telling account of the Australian side of the story and not that of America.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

Many, too many to mention.

Any additional comments?

This book made me sad, and ashamed at times. Sad for the pain and loss of war. Ashamed because of the way our political leaders failed our service men and woman. Ashamed of the protestors and those who abused our diggers calling them baby murderers and rapists, but most of all it made me PROUD of our soldiers, sailors and airmen.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Daniel
  • Alyangula, NT, Australia
  • 08-11-10

Detailed

This book has it all about the Aussie in Nam, if you thought u knew about our diggers in Nam then read this for a surprise.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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Very Enlightening

If you could sum up Vietnam in three words, what would they be?

Thorough, compelling and engrossing.

What did you like best about this story?

It broke down a lot of preconceptions. Surprised with who I thought were the heroes of the era were not.

What does Peter Byrne bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

He helped bring the characters to life.

What’s the most interesting tidbit you’ve picked up from this book?

The government’s involvement, labour and liberal.

Any additional comments?

The American and Australian involvement is generally tarnished by the same preconceptions in the eyes of the public. This book draws distinctions between the operations and behaviour of the Australian troops and American troops.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Looks Dull but is a truly Riveting Read.

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Definately. It is a fascinating account of a very controversial war, looked at from many perspectives, including the North Vietnamese, the Viet Cong, the US and Australian-New Zealanders, the anti war movements, the draft dodgers, and mainly, and very painfully, the soldiers of both sides and the Vietnamese civilians.<br/>I felt that all of the apsects were dealt with thoroughly and in an intensely interesting manner.<br/>

What was the most compelling aspect of this narrative?

The descriptions of the suffering of the civilians, the soldiers, the soldiers families, the boat people, the draft dodgers. The brutal ugliness of the regime which was being defended (the south) and the brutal ugliness of the northern invaders. The lies which we were fed by our politicians, generals, and the communists.<br/>The deliberate treatment by the northern communists of their own Viet Cong soldiers, as cannon fodder, and their disappearance from communist history, was a revelation<br/>The entire book book was compelling. I listened to it day and night, the entire 30 or 40 hours, in 4 days. <br/>Of all of the books about history and war which I have read and listened to (many, in all periods of history, and every continent), this is the most complete and comprehensive decription of the many causes and effects of war. It should be compulsory reading in Australian and New Zealand schools. Americans should read it to see how their friends saw their actions.

What does Peter Byrne bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

His American and Vietnamese accents are pretty funny, but despite that, it does help to put the quotes into perspective.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

It made me very sad. It also stimulates me to read more about Afghanistan, just in case we are not learning the lessons of history and are repeating similar mistakes there.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • O'Brien
  • Singleton, Australia
  • 04-16-12

A really good story, well read

Would you consider the audio edition of Vietnam to be better than the print version?

For me yes. I have difficulty reading full novels as I am usually too tired. Listening to Audiobooks in my car takes the monotony out of driving.

What was the most compelling aspect of this narrative?

Peter has great voice control and makes the story flow.

Which scene was your favorite?

My favorite scene was the the battle of Long Tan

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Mr.
  • Goolwa South, Australia
  • 11-13-12

Excellent portrayal of war conflict.

What did you love best about Vietnam?

Unbiased and insightful recollection of events and opinion surrounding Vietnam war and its participants - including the in depth historical backgrounding.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Overall
  • David
  • 04-07-13

Highly recommended

This book covers the Vietnam War from the Australian and New Zealand point of view. Not scared of the controversial issues, it covers the background to the war, the stories of the diggers themselves, and looks at the aftermath. It benefits enormously from having an Australian narrator, and Peter Byrne does a fantastic job. The description of the terrifying battle at Long Tan is worth the cost on its own and once finished, left me with enormous respect for the ANZACs and their approach to soldiering. Highly recommended.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • andy collier
  • 11-23-09

AUSTRALIAN WAR

Have listened to this book and found it to be the most informative ive heard both in terms of the military and political information it reveals. Very well written by Paul Ham, and narrated by Peter Byrne. For anyone intrested in this conflict, this book is a must.

Andy, Ireland.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • w
  • 07-08-14

Enthralling

Having listened to the Kakadu Trail,by this author,i expected and realized another full account of the war in vietnam.
Listen to it.You will not be disappointed.Excellent story

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Roger
  • 02-09-12

Very good

Good, well researched book free of the left wing blinkers that lots of authors seem to put on when they write about Vietnam. I kept thinking I'd heard the last chapter, but there was more and more additional information.
Very well narrated. Narrator has a pleasing Aussie accent, and good delivery that makes the occasional humourous sentences even funnier.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Christopher
  • 11-30-10

What can I say, awesome book

Thoroughly enjoyed this audio book and was very well narrated and very informative. Anyone with an interest in the Vietnam Conflict, definitely worth a listen :0)

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Aquiverof
  • 05-27-16

Enlightening

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

A thorough account of the experience of Vietnam from an Australian point of view.

What did you like best about this story?

Enthralling stories about an Australian account of Vietnam.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • benjamin
  • 11-10-17

Good history but not as much about the Army.

the begining is very much about the history of Vietnam which is good. The politics of Australia is important but too much in this book which is meant to be about Australia IN the war. The RAAF and RAN don't get much of a mention.

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  • John
  • 11-02-17

Great way to hear about the war!

Loved it! Great to hear a truthful and well researched account of our involvement in the war.

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  • The reader who failed English!
  • 04-07-17

A very comprehensive documentary of the war.

I found this to be an amazing coverage of the development of and the events of the Vietnam war, not just by Australians but also the Americans to a lesser extent. Some things will quite simply leave you breathless and in wonder of both good and the bad in people. Some may not fully understand some minor points as a military background would ensure. (I am ex military)
The way this is written and presented really makes for a worthwhile listening experience. The first hour or so may seem a little tedious, but I urge you to continue listening.

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  • David
  • 04-05-17

fascinatingdeeply researched account of Vietnam

at the age of 19 i was so ignorant of Vietnam and the politics when i missed the conscription ballot by one day. A wonderfully told history reminding me of my good fortune...and the devestation that the war bought to millions.

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  • Koda
  • 02-15-17

Enlightening to say the least!

Being a teacher of history I felt it was necessary to gain an understanding of such a pivotal part of Australian/Asian history. Paul Ham ties the complex and diverse Australian/American/Vietnamese experiences of this conflict together in an enthralling sorority packed with detail. In the telling of this story Ham provides well sourced information without being overly burdensome.

Peter Byrne does a fantastic in the narration of the story which was crucial to maintaining my interest.

I'm left with the thought that it is such a shame the soldiers of this war are not treated with the same depth and dignity in the Australian history curriculum as they deserve.

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  • alicia
  • 12-20-16

Just Fantastic

Would you listen to Vietnam again? Why?

I would listen to this many times. Each time i listen i get more out of this book.

What did you like best about this story?

The true heroism of these soldiers.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

All of it.

Any additional comments?

I recommend everyone listen or read this book. It shows how misguided illinformed people can be.