New Zealand Vietnam vets talk about their war
(HarperCollins Publishers NZ, 2009) # 4 bestseller
The Grey Ghosts are New Zealand’s Vietnam veterans. Their powerful story includes chilling accounts of death, injuries and emotional breakdown, along with the intense comradeship of soldiering, and a pervasive sense of humour that is uniquely our own.
Acclaimed writer and historian Deborah Challinor interviewed 50 men who served in Vietnam, who speak out about ‘fragging’ (killing superior officers), the New Zealand Government’s role in Agent Orange and chemical exposure, and the hostile reception they received when they returned. The result is compelling, reliving the Vietnam experience in vivid detail. First published in 1998, this updated edition includes new material on the subsequent handling of veterans’ claims, and the reconciliation parade on Queen’s Birthday Weekend in 2008, when the men were finally welcomed home.
Behind this book…
…Are 50 New Zealand Vietnam veterans who very generously shared with me their memories of their service in Vietnam. Those memories went into my Ph.D. thesis, which became, after some modification, this book. Both the Ph.D. and the book are about how some Vietnam veterans remember the war, not about what specifically happened during the war. Two quite different subjects.
‘This readable book, by well-known author Deborah Challinor, is based on her significant research into the Vietnam War and on the personal accounts of 50 New Zealand Vietnam veterans. These reminiscences bring the book alive with at times chilling and graphic stories of men who fought a war which became most unpopular at home…It is well worth a read.’
Wanganui Chronicle, May 2009
‘Challinor presents the interviews lucidly and the text shows a detachment not always present in similar books. Included is a full list of those who served. This is an important addition to the relatively sparse body of New Zealand work on the Vietnam War.’
Wairarapa Times-Age, June 2009
‘The frankness of the views expressed by the veterans paints an illuminating picture of the conflict, in an easily absorbed format. You will learn much about the whole sorry affair – considerably more than is normal in this type of book – as well as about the life and opinions of the men on the front line. Well worth the price and a place on your book shelf.’
Marlborough Express, April 2009
Available for sale to libraries only