The Bite of the Lotus
October 1, 2019

A fabulous, fast-paced and stirring memoir of the entire Vietnam War from an American civilian who began as an idealistic province-level do-gooder in the war’s earliest days in 1964. Quitting in protest after Tet ’68, a disillusioned Carl Robinson became a journalist for the remainder of the Vietnam War and running for those US helicopters as Saigon fell in April 1975. His dramatic and personal account, including the defining romance of his life and his drug addiction, are brilliantly captured in this colourful, brilliant and evocative memoir.   

The Bite of the Lotus takes you on a wild ride, documenting the terrors and injustice of the war at a local, familial level, and the stark reality of America’s flawed involvement in South Vietnam. It is also an insider’s view of how photographers and journalists functioned and somehow survived in this incendiary environment.

The book includes harrowing accounts of helicopter flights reminiscent of scenes from Apocalypse Now, the camaraderie Carl had with those who perished covering combat and his drug-fuelled friendship with Sean Flynn, the estranged son of Errol Flynn, and their stoned adventures riding motorbikes around the potentially lethal, war-torn and pot-holed landscapes of Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia.

Written with candour and dark humour of his adopted Australia, Carl’s astonishing story set against the backdrop of unremitting war embraces the enduring hope and indomitable spirit of the Vietnamese people.