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Grey Ghosts: New Zealand Vietnam Vets Talk about Their War [Paperback]

Deborah Challinor

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Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  2 reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Grey by name but not by nature Aug. 6 2001
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
This is the seminal (perhaps the only) historical work dealing with the experience of NZ soldiers in Viet Nam. Dr. Deborah Challinor, an historian and sometime lecturer at the University of Waikato in New Zealand, knows her subject and writes fluently. Based upon hours of interviews with veterans, the book does an excellent job of covering the topic.
Interesting to the US viewer is the consensus among the NZ veterans that emerges from the interviews: the US soldiers were great guys, but poorly equipped (by training and life experience) to deal with jungle combat. Reasons? Many were conscripts, and many were city men completely unable to deal with the realities of the Viet Nam environment. The Australians, while not considered nearly as agreeable as the Americans, were predominantly professional soldiers, and so their training and backgrounds had better prepared them for the environment.
This book was actually on the NZ bestseller list for a time. However, its print run was minuscule by American standards, due to New Zealand's small population (approximately 4 million). It deserves a reprint, as scholars of the Viet Nam war will find it invaluable.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The New Zealand Army experience in the Vietnam War May 6 2010
By Kiwi - Published on Amazon.com
Perhaps the only account about the NZ Army in Vietnam, based on interviews with a range of Vietnam Vets. In addition to the actual contents, which by the way is a very clear account of various aspects of the NZ Army soldier's experiences (not the military campaigns, a history of patrols or engagements or the like) in Vietnam, including things like R&R, how the Kiwi soldiers found working in the field with the Aussies, the Americans and the South Koreans, the NZ R&R experience and the like.

For the US audience, there's a few interesting points: New Zealand and Australia were the only 2 western countries to send soldiers to fight alongside the US in Vietnam. New Zealand maintained it's committment right up until the US pulled out, at the peak of the NZ involvment, 10% of the New Zealand Army were based in Vietnam, New Zealand paid it's own way for the duration, accepting no financial aid from the USA. NZ soldiers serving in Vietnam were all volunteers: altho as a serving soldier it was "expected" that you volunteered, there seemed to be very little opposition to this - the NZ Army was a very professional outfit and saw themselves, across the board, as working at the same level or better that US Special Forces in Vietnam.

Quite a good look also at the post-war veteran's experience and also some history on the Agent Orange controversy as it affected New Zealanders - the author, Deborah Challinor, has also written a book on this subject. She had the support of New Zealand veterans organisations in writing both books. Well worth the read and, as mentioned by a previous reviewer, the book was a best seller in NZ when it was first published.

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