Knightly deeds in Vietnam

The title of this new book on the Vietnam War comes from the final verse cycle of Tennyson’s Idylls of the King (1869). As Arthur lies dying, he reflects ‘that we / Shall never more ... Delight our souls with talk of knightly deeds’. This Arthurian borrowing for the title of a book about an obscure battle fought by Australians in Vietnam during the 1968 Tet Offensive is not overweening. That infamous year, the war’s ubiquity on television gave the conflict a frisson of newness that coincided with political upheavals in Europe and with the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr and Robert F. Kennedy. Vietnam was not the first of the new wars; it was the last of the old wars. Gerard Windsor’s Arthurian title is both poignant and entirely apt.

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Published in June 2011 no. 332

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