Dapin, Mark: Australia’s Vietnam: Myth vs History

Mark Dapin

Australia’s Vietnam: Myth vs History, NewSouth, Sydney, 2019

This book should be read by anyone interested in the way myths become accepted as history.’ — Peter Edwards, author of Australia and the Vietnam War

Why everything you think you know about Australia’s Vietnam War is wrong.

When journalist and historian Mark Dapin first interviewed Vietnam veterans and wrote about the war, he swallowed (and regurgitated) every popular misconception. He wasn’t alone. In Australia’s Vietnam, Dapin argues that every stage of Australia’s Vietnam War has been misremembered and obscured by myth. He disproves claims that every national serviceman was a volunteer; questions the idea that Australian troops committed atrocities; debunks the fallacy that there were no welcome home parades until 1987; and rebuts the fable that returned soldiers were met by spitting protesters at Australian airports.

Australia’s Vietnam is a major contribution to the understanding of Australia’s experience of the war and will change the way we think about memory and military history. (blurb)

The book is reviewed for Honest History by David Stephens. Also reviewed by Michael Sexton in Australian Book Review, Hamish McDonald in The Saturday Paper, Noel Turnbull in Pearls & Irritations, Tom Richardson in Sydney Morning Herald, and American Jerry Lembcke in History News Network. A letter (4 May entry) from Jack Robertson of Birchgrove, NSW, to the Saturday Paper, commenting on McDonald’s review, Dapin’s book, and ‘Anzac bullshitology’. Extract. Google Books.

Honest History has many resources on the Vietnam War and era. Use our Search engine. See particularly this collection, which looks at earlier work by Dapin, plus books by Michael Caulfield and Peter Edwards. Also this collection, done to mark the 50th anniversary of the Battle of Long Tan.

Update 25 April 2020: Tom Greenwell in Inside Story is amazed that ‘historian’ Paul Ham continues to insist on the stories of the ill-treatment of Vietnam returning men. Ham had not heard of Dapin’s work.

Update 30 November 2020: Peter Yule has published, with the assistance of the War Memorial, The Long Shadow: Australia’s Vietnam Veterans since the War. Canberra Times comment.

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