Greg Lockhart had an academic career after serving in the Australian Army Training Team in Vietnam. He is author of the critically acclaimed Nation in Arms: The Origins of the People's Army of Vietnam. He has also written on Vietnamese literature and, with his wife Monique, is a translator of a number of Vietnamese writers, including those in The Light of the Capital: Three Modern Vietnamese Classics. The 2005 Glasshouse Pictures documentary film Vietnam Minefield is based on an early draft of this book. He is Honorary Historian of the Vietnam Veterans' Federation of Australia.
1. What inspired you to write this book?
The need to explain a major blunder in Australian military history.
2. What are you reading at the moment?
David Halberstam’s 2007 book The Coldest Winter: America and the Korean War. I’m also reading some early Albert Camus.
3. What’s the most interesting job you’ve had and why?
I would like to mention three. Being a Platoon Commander in the Pacific Islands Regiment in the late 1960s because I was young and the world was wide and Papua New Guinea was a fascinating first foreign country to live in. Serving as an adviser with Regional Forces of the Army of the Republic of Vietnam, because I found myself in war with foreign troops. My Fellowship in the Research School of Pacific Studies at ANU in the mid-1980s, as I began my career as an historian.
4. If you could invite five people, alive or dead, to a dinner party, who would they be and why?
Herodotus, Edward Gibbon and Albert Camus because I feel strangely close to them from their writings and would like to know what they and their worlds were really like. Martha Gellhorn because she was a beautiful woman who saw and wrote so much about the twentieth century. And Paul Keating, because he is the most creative political commentator in Australia.
5. What do you do to relax?
Walk and listen to music.
6. What’s your biggest indulgence?
7. What makes you laugh?
Monty Python and Spike Milligan’s incredible books.
8. What makes you cry?
9. What’s your proudest moment?
Marrying my wife, Monique.
10. What’s your next project?
I am not sure.