In an intensely personal account, this chronicle draws on a young conscript and his comrades' lives before, during, and after the Vietnam War. Offering an Australian perspective of the trauma that occurs after such a deeply emotional and psychological experience, this story is a vivid, piercingly honest portrayal of a post-war breakdown and recovery. This sensitive and unforgettable account of one man's struggle through a war and a mental illness is at once a tribute to the soldiers who fought beside him and a lucid account of the horrors he faced.
Australian Vietnam vet Barry Heard draws on his own experiences as a young conscript, along with those of his comrades, to look back at life before, during, and after the Vietnam War. The result is a sympathetic vision of a group of young men who were sent off to war completely unprepared for the emotional and psychological impact it would have on them. It is also a vivid and searingly honest portrayal of the author's post-war, slow-motion breakdown, and how he dealt with it. Well Done, Those Men attempts to make sense of what Vietnam did to the soldiers who fought there. It deals with the comic absurdity of their military training and the horror of the war they fought, and is unforgettably moving in recounting what happened to Barry and his comrades when they returned home. As we now know, most Vietnam vets had to deal with a community that shunned them, and with their own depression, trauma, and guilt. Barry Heard's sensitive account of his long journey home from Vietnam is a tribute to his mates, and an inspiring story of a life reclaimed.
Barry Heard was conscripted in the first national service ballot and served in Vietnam as an infantryman and radio operator. His stories have received the Sir Edmund Herring Memorial award and the Sir Weary Dunlop prize.
'Heard gives meaning and sense to overused cliches such as "stolen youth", "buried horrors" and even "mateship".'
--Lorien Kaye "Age " 'To those of you thinking "ho hum, another Vietnam book" I can only suggest that this one deserves to be read -- for the sake of all those who are still trying to "come home".'
--Peter Barrett "Guyra Argus " 'The author discusses his own gradual disintegration and that of his mates in powerful, simple language free of intellectual pretension. Often dramatic and emotionally moving, there is no pathos in this brutally honest account of a costly episode in our recent history.'
--Lon Bram "Courier Mail " A 'remarkable book'.
--Newcastle Herald 'This is a brilliant anti-war polemic, and an ultimately inspiring life story.'
--Good Reading 'This is a searingly honest account of one man's battle to overcome his tormented past in an unpopular war and to recover from a complete breakdown.'
--Ros Sydes "Examiner " 'This is a powerful, beautifully written book that should be read by everyone who wants to understand the evil, senseless personal damage done by war.'
--Bruce Elder "Sydney Morning Herald " 'Well Done, Those Men is highly recommended, as a glimpse into Australia 40 years ago, as an honest account of fighting in Vietnam, and as an entertaining and thought-provoking read.'
--Canberra Times 'It's profound sadness makes Well Done, Those Men a difficult book to read. Ultimately, though, ... it is also an uplifting work, for it is testament to human resilience and, thus, to the possiblity of personal redemption no matter how painful the catalytic experience.'
--Seaumas Spark "Reviews in Australian Studies " 'Vietnam veteran Barry Heard has written an inspiring story about a life reclaimed.'
--Sue Wallace "Border Mail " 'Heard writes honestly and painfully of that soiled era ...'
--Tony Maniaty "Weekend Australian " 'As devastating as Heard's account of the war undoubtedly is, it's the last third of the book -- wherein he returns to a country that seems embarrassed to acknowledge his existence, and tries to deal with his shattered psyche with little support from an uncomprehending family and an ever-decreasing number of friends -- that packs the biggest emotional wallop ... [However] he manages to elicit laughs amidst the tragedy.'
--Terry Oberg "Courier Mail " 'Heard's well-written account will appeal to anyone interested in the impact of the Vietnam War on New Zealand and Australian soldiers. It provides valuable and illuminating perspective on the troubles that have afflicted many of them since their return.'
--Ian McGibbon "New Zealand International Review " 'Well Done, Those Men is a human, moving, and brutally honest account of one man's emotionally racked journey from naive country boy to jungle soldier, psychologically scarred veteran, and ultimately triumphant victor over the demons within.'
--Greg Thom "Herald Sun " 'Heard's recounting of his Vietnam tour is chilling. But it is the last third of the book that really hits home. In less than 100 pages, Heard describes 30 years of hell ... this is an important book on a still hidden topic, and one that deserves a wide audience.'
--Tim Coronel "Australian Bookseller & Publisher " 'Barry Heard's book is the autobiography of a Vietnam veteran, but it's so perceptive it represents a whole generation ... The book is very well written, clear in its descriptions, self-aware in its assessments and, surprisingly, not depressing to read.'
--Patrick Morgan "Quadrant "
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