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Critical accounts

The Battle of Long Tan: As told by the commanders

By Bob Grandin.

Allen and Unwin.
332pp. $35.

Reviewer: CPL Cameron Jamieson

FOR MANY years Long Tan was only vaguely remembered due to the lack of a detailed history of the battle. That all changed in 1987 when Lex McAulay released the book The Battle of Long Tan.

It went on to be a best seller and helped to elevate the status and public knowledge of the battle to the point where the anniversary of the battle is now commemorated in Australia as the Remembrance Day for the Vietnam conflict.

The Battle of Long Tan: As told by the commanders is a new book advertised as an account of the battle by the six Australian commanders and one New Zealander commander of the units that were involved.

That isn’t quite the case, as the co-pilot of a helicopter or an artillery forward observer do not quite register as commanders with me.

Nevertheless, the book is very detailed and certainly provides the reader with possibly the best possible insight for an outsider to understand the battle from the point of view of those key sub-unit decision makers who fought and lived through the battle.

What sets it apart from McAulay’s book is the frank and open criticisms the contributors make of their hierarchy and the subsequent debacle in regards to honours and awards.

As a result, the reader is left with no doubt as to the bitterness that remains decades after the battle. Grandin’s book sheds new light on the subject and is definitely worth the money if you are keen on the battle, or are interested in what goes through the mind of tactical commanders on the battle-field.

Just be ready for the warts-and-all comments in the text.

COMPETITION
The Service newspapers have six books for people who can name the publisher of this book. Send your entry to raafnews@defencenews.gov.au with Sec: Unclassified: and “Long Tan giveaway” in the subject line. Entries close October 14.

 

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