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.
“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.”
Australian Bookseller & Publisher
View all reviews
“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.”
“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.”
“This is a brilliant anti-war polemic, and an ultimately inspiring life story.”
“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.”
“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.”
New Zealand International Review
“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.”
“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.”
Reviews in Australian Studies
“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.”
Sydney Morning Herald
“Heard writes honestly and painfully of that soiled era…”