Dapin, Mark: The Nashos’ War

Dapin, Mark

The Nashos’ War: Australia’s National Servicemen and Vietnam, Penguin Viking, Melbourne, 2014

[O]ur ideas of national service contain strange contradictions and inaccuracies: that the draft was unpopular but militarily necessary; that the nashos in Vietnam all volunteered to go to war; and that they were met by protesters and demonstrations on their return to Australia, rather than the huge welcome-home parades reported at the time.

Here, Mark Dapin dramatically deconstructs the folklore of Vietnam and national service. Drawing on the accounts of over one hundred and fifty former national servicemen, The Nashos’ War tells a vastly more personal and nuanced story of national service and Australia’s Vietnam War than that previously heard. (blurb)

The book is excerpted and discussed in this Honest History highlights reel, along with Michael Caulfield’s The Vietnam Years. There were reviews in the Canberra Times, the Australian and the Herald-Sun. Also behind a pay-wall by Peter Edwards in Australian Book Review but free on Dapin’s web page, along with some other reviews. ‘Dapin’s overriding theme’, says Edwards, ‘is that the truth is always more subtle than the myths’.

Dapin’s own long reflection on why he wrote the book and what it taught him is here. It makes some profound points about the nature of Australia in the 1960s. Among other points made:

Most of Australia was conservative, patriotic and law-abiding throughout the Vietnam period. Anti-war protesters, even at the peak of their numbers, were often thought of as deviants, ratbags, idiots and traitors.

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