July 18, 2024

Well Done, Those Men


Barry Heard

‘As devastating as Heard’s account of the war undoubtedly is, it’s the last third of the book — wherein he returns to a country that seems embarrassed to acknowledge his existence, and tries to deal with his shattered psyche with little support from an uncomprehending family and an ever-decreasing number of friends — that packs the biggest emotional wallop … [However] he manages to elicit laughs amidst the tragedy.’

TERRY OBERG, Courier Mail
After returning from Vietnam, I kept my illness hidden for years with long hours of work, study, and sport: anything that produced total exhaustion and allowed me to fall into a bed and sleep … But I was wearing out … I survived on two, sometimes four hours’ sleep a night, became hyper-vigilant, wary of crowded places, and my general physical health deteriorated … Then one night I collapsed. I knew I was dying.

In this intensely personal account, 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 to Australia.

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.


‘Vietnam veteran Barry Heard has written an inspiring story about a life reclaimed.’
SUE WALLACE, Border Mail

‘Heard writes honestly and painfully of that soiled era …’
TONY MANIATY, Weekend Australian

‘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.’
BRUCE ELDER, Sydney Morning Herald

Go here to visit Barry’s website.

1 thought on “Well Done, Those Men

  1. A great (if painful) book. Written honestly and openly.

    As a former nasho and Vietnam vet, I appreciated Barry shining a light on the injustice of the lottery system that was random conscription. Politicians of that era have a lot to answer for, but haven’t really been held to account.

    Clearly, Barry’s stint as a conscript, totally changed the course of his life.

    Well worth reading, but don’t expect an easy time!

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