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I Was Only Nineteen : The iconic song about the Vietnam War that helped changed a nation - John Schumann

I Was Only Nineteen

The iconic song about the Vietnam War that helped changed a nation

By: John Schumann, Craig Smith (Illustrator)


Published: 1st March 2014
For Ages: 8 - 12 years old
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RRP $24.99

A powerful and moving picture book about the Vietnam War based on the unforgettable song.

Townsville lined the footpath as we marched down to the quay. This clipping from the paper shows us young and strong and clean. And there's me in my slouch hat, with my SLR and greens. God help me, I was only nineteen.

John Schumann's unforgettable lyrics about the Vietnam War are etched in our memories and into our history books. Now they've been warmly brought to life by one of Australia's best-loved illustrators.

About the Author

Best known for his leadership of legendary Australian folk-rock band Redgum, John Schumann's Vietnam War anthem, 'I was only 19' changed the way our nation thinks about how we treat our war veterans. Described by rock historian Glenn A Baker as 'one of the finest songwriters this country has produced', John has received almost every award the Australian music industry has to offer. His songs have been paid the ultimate compliment by becoming the property of the people and country they were written about. His lyrics are read in schools and universities across Australia.

About the Illustrator

Craig Smith is one of Australia's most prolific children's book illustrators. He has collaborated with many of Australia's best-loved authors, such as Paul Jennings and Doug MacLeod, and illustrated books for Allen & Unwin including The Big Ball of String, The Boy Who Built the Boat, Heather Fell in the Water and Where Are You, Banana?


by PowerReviews
I Was Only Nineteen

(based on 2 reviews)

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illustrated version of song.

By Rosamour

from Western Australia

Verified Buyer

Comments about I Was Only Nineteen:

I am not sure how this book should be written up. Being of the age when some of my friends were conscripted at 18 to fight in Vietnam I was very familiar with the song that the book is based on. I thought I would buy it for my grandson who will shortly be 10.

We went through it together but I did not think it was particular appropriate for a youngster especially with him not having any connection with that history. Maybe the book is more appropriate for older children who may have had a grand dad fight but in my case I will give it to a Vietnam veteran who is sure to appreciate the illustrations to his anthem. The 'I was only nineteen' book is , in my opinion, for adults who experienced meaning from the song and the times.

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(1 of 1 customers found this review helpful)


The Story of the Vietnam Vets

By Thoughtful

from Sydney

About Me Bookworm

Verified Buyer


  • Deserves Multiple Readings
  • Easy To Understand
  • Informative
  • Inspirational
  • Relevant
  • Well Written


    Best Uses

    • Older Readers
    • Younger Readers

    Comments about I Was Only Nineteen:

    John Schumann's song, illustrated in this book, affected me deeply. Around Anzac Day and the celebrations of the centenary of WWI it illustrates the difference in treatment that the Anzac heroes received compared with the treatment of the Vietnam War Veterans; and thereby highlights the problematic of war.
    This is a book that should be distributed to all schools in Australia. There are even some excellent teacher's notes available.

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    ISBN: 9781743317235
    ISBN-10: 1743317239
    Audience: Children
    For Ages: 8 - 12 years old
    For Grades: 3 - 7
    Format: Hardcover
    Language: English
    Number Of Pages: 32
    Published: 1st March 2014
    Publisher: Allen & Unwin
    Dimensions (cm): 28.0 x 27.0  x 1.0
    Weight (kg): 0.48
    Edition Number: 1