While technically the war in Vietnam ended in 1975, for some New Zealand veterans and their families, the fighting never stopped. Only this time the enemy isn’t concealed beside a jungle trail or in a booby-trapped village hut – the enemy is within, the minefield one of genetics.
In a powerful book which brings together the stories of five New Zealand families irrevocably scarred by the consequences of Vietnam, Deborah Challinor and Liz Lancaster explore the long-term consequences of that divisive war.
The dogged determination of the veterans and their families to be heard is presented against a backdrop of political inaction, disinterest and prevarication. Their struggles against debilitating disease are detailed, and their haunting fears for their children and grandchildren finally given a voice.
Young men serving in Vietnam thirty years ago are now husbands and grandfathers, and for many, the intervening years have brought the bitter realisation of the true cost of their service, now being borne by their wives, partners, children and grandchildren.
In a poignant and compelling summary of the international battle for recognition and compensation, the authors offer a succinct account of the aftermath of the war in Vietnam, and the fight for compensation in the United States of America, Australia and New Zealand. Through the personal accounts of some of those directly affected, they present a chilling indictment of this country’s treatment of its servicemen and their families.
This book wasn’t actually my idea. A brave and tenacious woman named Liz Lancaster, the mother of two children born with health issues resulting from their father’s service in Vietnam, approached HarperCollins with the idea, and I was asked to research and write much of the book. I’m glad I did.
‘Challinor and Lancaster deserve the next Montana Award. Their well-written, well-researched book should be read by every New Zealander.’
Wairarapa Times-Age, July 2000