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Description - Vietnam: A reporter's war by Hugh Lunn

Saigon,1967. Fresh-faced 25-year-old Hugh Lunn arrives in Vietnam at the height of the war to cover it for Reuters and quickly meets a fascinating cast of characters: journalists, Vietnamese, military and best of all, Dinh, the Vietnamese reporter and guide who spoke his own brand of English (Dinglish) and whose wisdom and humour become inextricably bound up with the young reporter's view of the war. Before long the author experiences the full horror and tragedy of war, and finds himself questioning not only the US/Australian role in Vietnam, but his own role in a war where images and words could be as powerful as bullets.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780733321726
ISBN-10: 0733321720
Format: Paperback
(210mm x 136mm x 23mm)
Pages: 336
Imprint: ABC Books
Publisher: ABC Books
Publish Date: 1-Aug-2007
Country of Publication: Australia

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Book Review: Vietnam: A reporter's war by Hugh Lunn - Reviewed by (24 Jul 2012)

Vietnam: A Reporter’s War is the 5th book by Australian journalist and author, Hugh Lunn. In it, Lunn details his year in Vietnam as a reporter for the Reuters agency. With his conversational style, Lunn presents a vast amount of information in an easy-to-assimilate form. His first-hand view of the US military propaganda machine in action, and the alternative sources a reporter might find, makes for interesting reading. He describes the intricacies of reporting from the field, sometimes under fire, and in a third-world country long before the existence of mobile phones, email and the fax machine. His description of the process by which newspapers get their stories from the wire services, who decides which story and which version will go to print, and how vastly this may differ from the facts, is quite a revelation. Other interesting subjects Lunn touches on: the attitude and behaviour of US servicemen towards the Vietnamese (brusque, insulting and completely lacking cultural sensitivity), and how this lost them credibility; the bravery of the troops under fire; the acceptance of 10% mortality due to friendly fire; the impossibility of discerning who was Viet Cong; the laughable tactics the US military used to scare the seasoned Viet Cong guerrillas; the US idea that they could win over the Vietnamese by good works (dams, schools, bridges) whilst at the same time shooting, napalming and defoliating them or their country; the completely ridiculous barrier planned to keep the Viet Cong out of South Vietnam. Some of the statistics were mind-numbing (4000 choppers lost by the end of ’67!). The extent to which the US Administration was out of touch with reality on the front was staggering. Lunn’s comments on the differences between the American troops (an army of university students) and the Australian Army (well-drilled schoolboys) and their behaviour and tactics was interesting, as was the effect on the complexion of the war of the North’s use of Russian weaponry. Lunn’s Vietnamese colleague, Dinh, said many insightful things, summing up the war with “…the Viet Cong, they are not afraid to die”. This book has moments of laughter and joy, but also moments of drama and sorrow. A great read.