22 Apr 2013

Vietnam Diary

These three books make up Mark Wilson's excellent Children in War trilogy.  Vietnam Diary, the most recent, was released in March - just in time for us to read this Anzac Day.

Here's an overview of the story:

Both Jason's father and grandfather had fought for their country - Jason was born on his father's return from WWII, and his grandfather had fought in WWI.  Jason and his older brother Leigh are inseparable as boys, and share a special love of cricket.

When Leigh goes off to university, he joins his friends in protests against the Vietnam War. "It is not our war", he says fiercely.  Jason is not so sure.  What if all the soldiers ran away, ponders the boy.  When Jason grows up and is conscripted, he decides to accept and heads off to fight.  Leigh is angered, and a tragic rift forms between the two brothers.

Eventually Leigh mellows - at about the same time as Jason away off in Vietnam begins to question the futility of war himself.  Leigh's first letter to his brother arrives the same day that Jason is to fight at Nui Dat.  He decided to leave reading the precious letter until he gets back...

I know I'm a sook with Anzac stories, but I cried. The story of the two brothers - one anti-war, the other willing to go and fight as his father and grandfather had, is really powerful.  It provides a wonderful platform for discussing Australia's conflicting opinions about the Vietnam war both then and even now.  Jemimah and I discussed the hostile reception the soldiers received upon their return home, and the subsequent post-traumatic stress disorder many of them still suffer.  Having recently studied the western fear of the spread of Communism in AO6 Term 1, this conversation was really timely.

Read my quick reviews of the other two books in the trilogy here.

I'll be posting my thoughts of some other new (at least to me) books each day this week in the lead up to Anzac Day.  Have you read any new books this year?  Do share.


  1. I'm fascinated!! My uncle fought at Vietnam. Off to request my library order the two we don't have (have Angel)

  2. Can I ask how long they are and what age you think they are best aimed at?

    I was so disappointed in our local libraries selection when searching for some books for ANZAC day. Either picture books for kiddies or novels in the adult section; nothing aimed at young readers. That's what you get in a tiny town I suppose.

    I shall be following your recomendations with interest - I might have to buy them myself if they sound that good ;)

  3. Saying hi from the forum. I love reading how other people do things :)


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