Jellybeans in the Jungle is one man’s attempt to make sense of his experience as a conscripted soldier during Australia’s war in Vietnam.
As a student in the sixties Bob Whittaker had been sympathetic to the cause of the anti-war movement, but he was called up for National Service as a primary school teacher working in western Queensland.
This book tells the story of his recruit training, and his posting to an infantry battalion which was deployed to Vietnam in 1970.
He describes his service, punctuated by some grim encounters with both enemy and friendly troops, his R & R in Bangkok, and finally his return to Australia and his rehabilitation as a teacher of children with disabilities.
Bob returned to Vietnam in 2006 and 2007, and his reflections during these journeys provide a fascinating insight into conflict and reconciliation.
Tim Brunero spoke to Bob, and asked him how he went from protesting to fighting.
Producer: Angus Randall