Red Haze – Australians and New Zealanders in Vietnam, by Leon Davidson

The soil in our area is Red Mud, RED-BLOODY-MUD. It drives me mad…It’s the only place in the world where you can be bogged down in mud up to you neck and get dust in your eyes.Douglas Bishop, 5RAR, letter to family, October 1966

Leeches, mosquitos snakes and more. Dust, mud, rain, rain, rain. Red Haze looks at the circumstances that brought Australian and New Zealand soldiers to the experience that is called ‘The Vietnam War’. Many people believed that if communism was allowed to spread in Vietnam that it would eventually ‘infect’ countries all the way to Australia and New Zealand. While the political battles waged at home, soldiers fought an intractable foe on hostile ground. Red Haze tracks the war from the political impetus for its beginning, through many of the well-known and less well-known battles, to the 1973 ceasefire.

Nothing could have prepared Australian and New Zealand soldiers for the environment in which they were to be asked to fight. Red Haze uses personal experiences to bring the reader close to the action and uncertainty. Davidson doesn’t pretend to have the whole story, but shows the brutality and compassion, the confusion and violence that accompanies war. The use of letters and recollections from soldiers from both sides and from protesters at home gives some understanding of how difficult a time it was. Though today’s children have little direct experience of the Vietnam war, this book can help them understand some of the issues of the wars of their time. For upper primary and early secondary readers.

Red Haze: Australians and New Zealanders in Vietnam, by Leon Davidson
black dog books 2006 ISBN 876372958

Scarecrow Army, by Leon Davidson

When young men from Australian and New Zealand enlisted to fight in Word War 1, they did so for love of their countries – and for some adventure. In Gallipoli, in 1915, they encountered more adventure than they had expected, as they fought the Turks in a seemingly futile attempt to seize control of the Gallipoli peninsula. The actions of those brave men has become legendary, and played a vital role in shaping Australian identity.

Scarecrow Army recounts the events of Gallipoli, from the declaration of war, and the subsequent rush to enlist, through the training of the men and especially the events between the landing at Gallipoli on April 25, 1915, to the evacuation in December. As well as providing factual recount, author Leon Davidson also uses fictionalised accounts, photographs and quotes from a vast range of soldiers.

This is an important offering. It provides a detailed account of this important period of Australian and New Zealand history, in a format accessible to upper primary and secondary aged children. It will prove an excellent educational resource, but is also suited for private reading.

Scarecrow Army, by Leon Davidson
Black Dog Books, 2005