Top positive review
3 people found this helpful
Enjoyable and worth a read
on July 15, 2015
I've watched a lot of videos by Youtuber Brady Haran. I've also listed to a couple dozen episodes of his podcast with CPG Grey, Hello Internet. In fact in was in one of these podcasts that he talked about going to Vietnam with his father, Peter, to visit some of the places that his father fought in during the Vietnam War. What I found interesting is 1) there were Australian troops in Vietnam (I always thought it was a strictly American war) and 2) Peter was there as a dog handler for a tracking dog. When Brady mentioned that his father had written a book about his experiences, I was intrigued. I got the Kindle edition. Peter uses an interesting format for his writing. He provides an overarching narrative separated with short vignettes of interesting occurrences. The writing feels very honest and it's not too hard to keep track of the people involved, even though there are a decent number of them. Overall, it was an enjoyable read that found interesting and informative.
Plot: Fighting during the Vietnam war was characterized by hit and run attacks in the middle of the sweltering jungle. It was not uncommon for the enemy to simply disappear after firing on U.S. or Australian troops. In order to try to eliminate as many enemy fighters as possible tracking dogs were trained and sent over with the troops. Their job was to try to find the enemy so they could be eliminated, or their bases or strongholds destroyed. Peter Haran was an 18 year old soldier who broke the first rule of military service and volunteered for the tracking wing. After going through a year of training with two different dogs he was shipped to Vietnam and spent a year watching the hindquarters of a mutt like his life depended on it, because it did.
My personal favorites: Peter has some fun stories, and not just about trying to hunt down the enemy. His writing is free from graphic violence or descriptions of the horrors of war. He shares many of his emotions, sadness, depression, humor, frustration, anger, and joy. And exhaustion. You can't forget that. It some ways I feel that this book was a very human look at war without the visceral horror that is often used. He is honest about his own feelings and the aftermath of the war, including a rather personal assessment of the psychological scars it left on him. It was hard not to develop a respect for him and his comrade "Diggers" as I read the stories he shared.
Considerations: The only consideration that must be noted is the language in the book. Trackers is a soldier's tale written by a soldier and he is faithful in his record of what was said when. While the narrative is relative clean with only occasionally strong language, there is a lot of very strong language in the accounts of the dialog between the players.