Preview Reviews: Khaki Town by Judy Nunn

Preview Reviews: Khaki Town by Judy Nunn

Our most recent Preview was Khaki Town by Judy Nunn, a breathtaking historical novel set in Queensland during World War II. The novel is inspired by a true wartime story that has remained a well-kept secret for over seventy years.

Read our Preview Reviews:

I love books with a compelling, well-paced storyline and characters I really care about. Khaki Town absolutely ticked these boxes for me; I loved it and didn’t want to put it down. Khaki town is a beautifully written novel, set in Townsville during 1942. World War II had well and truly reached Australia, and everyday people were learning to adapt to their ‘new normal’. While numerous books are set during World War II, Khaki Town really stood out for me as it is situated in Australia and deals with the theme of racism in a unique way. The central storyline, inspired by relatively unknown true events, details the ways in which overt and systemic racism influences interactions between locals, Australian and US soldiers, and international politicians. The story moves swiftly across a large cast of well-developed characters, contributing to the fast pace of the book. I loved many of the characters and didn’t have any trouble keeping track of them as the book is divided according to three perspectives: civilians, soldiers, and politicians. Some of the events depicted in the book are heartbreaking but the story is ultimately uplifting and it stayed with me long after I finished reading it. – Amanda, QLD, 5 stars

Thanks Better Reading for the opportunity of reading (and reviewing) an uncorrected advance proof copy of Khaki Town by Judy Nunn. I hadn’t heard of the incident/s among the U.S. soldiers stationed in Townsville in 1942. The theme, exploring racial relations between black and white Americans and Australians in Northern Australia during World War Two (while the White Australia Policy was still in effect, and before the American Civil Rights Movement) was extremely interesting. The colourful locals, as well as the American characters, were vividly brought to life, and very relatable. I felt for the black American soldiers, who were used unfairly; and reading about Auntie Edie’s experience as a blackfella on Palm Island hit me hard (some Indigenous branches of my own family tree are untraceable due to past practices of the government…). My favourite character was Val (the publican), who reminded me of some of the good hearted Aussie characters of Ruth Park. I especially liked her gift to Lyndon B. Johnson of a bottle of Bundy! – Ayesha, NSW, 4 stars

I really enjoyed the development of the characters in this book. I felt as though I knew all of them and could empathise with all of them and their situations. This empathy that I felt made it particularly difficult to come to terms with what occurred. I feel deeply for the characters of this book and what they endured. – Shannon, NSW, 4 stars

Judy Nunn delivers again. Her latest novel, Khaki Town, transports the reader back to war time Townsville, as an influx of Australian and US troops descend upon the town, resulting in underlying tensions between the Aussies and the Yanks, as well as between black and white, and the simmering hostilities are ignored and hidden by both governments until the situation reaches boiling point. Based on true events that are little known to most Australians, Khaki Town gives a wonderful insight into life in Northern Queensland in the early 40’s, and the marvellous characters bring the story to life. As the reader gets swept along with the characters, the story can be heartbreaking at times, but heart-warming as well. A wonderful mix of mystery and romance, the book had me hooked from the start and I found it hard to put it down. Khaki Town get 5 stars from me, I loved it! – Amanda, QLD, 5 stars

Khaki Town is the newest novel by Judy Nunn. In this novel, Judy Nunn explores the time during World War 2 in Townsville, where America establish a military base in the town. There is an aboriginal population in the town and Val Callahan owns The Brown’s Hotel. Val is a strong woman who has seen and been through a lot and helps her friend Edie find her feet and establish a business for herself. I am a fan of Judy Nunn and her novels about Australian experiences and this one does not disappoint. She has impeccably researched the wartime era and interactions between the Americans and Australians. The novel raises themes of racism, love and violence in the town. I give the book 5 stars. – Brenda, NSW, 5 stars

A hard book to read due to the racism and violence. It was hard to care much for any of the characters, the writing style made that difficult. The historical aspect was quite interesting. Not generally the kind of book I’ll pick up but I know many people who would enjoy it. – Hanadi, NSW, 2 stars

Where do facts stop, and fiction begin? That is the question readers will ask as they enjoy this version of events that occurred in Townsville during World War 2. While the record books provide the basis for Khaki Town, author Judy Nunn has embellished the records to present a picture of the times and the feelings that were running high in the volatile environment. In telling the story, Nunn has provided us with real characters, real locations and real emotions that can move, shock and abhor readers. With a backdrop of racial tension not only between the Australian and American soldiers, but also within the American army, the scene is set for confrontations and violence with devastating consequences for everyone involved. While we may never know the full story of what happened in 1942 in Townsville, Khaki Town is a realistic and believable version, told in a manner that evokes an image of a town overtaken by the military, and the impact this has on the townsfolk and those stationed there. The book educates and entertains in equal measure and was a pleasure to read. – Christine, QLD, 4 stars

I’ll admit that I lost quite a few nights sleep in order to finish Khaki Town to see how Judy Nunn concluded this spellbinding story. This book was emotional, inspiring and gripping to the very last page! – Jessie, VIC, 5 stars

Thank you for the opportunity to review Khaki Town. – Laraine, QLD, 5 stars

Thank you Better Reading for the opportunity to review this advanced copy of Khaki Town. This is the first book I’ve read by Judy Nunn and the first time reading anything set in Australian wartime. Both “firsts” for me have proven well worth it. Judy Nunn has a wonderful way of portraying people and a particularly good way of evoking emotions in the reader. A fascinating insight into life in Townsville during what must have been a terrifying time. It is unfathomable how it must have felt to be waiting for impending invasion while trying to continue life with some normality. Nunn’s characters help set the scene for the unfolding of a terrible event that could have been avoided and should never have been covered up. Racism was a part of everyday life in 1942. Judy Nunn’s writing doesn’t hide away from this unfortunate mindset and her story is raw and real which gives the reader authentic emotions. While the topic is heavy, the book is easy to read. Its flowing and constantly moving, keeping you wanting more. Its evocative, heartfelt and powerful. I highly recommend Khaki Town and I look forward to reading more of Judy Nunn’s work. – Christine, SA, 4 stars

Khaki Town is the first Judy Nunn book that I have read. I enjoyed reading an Australian historical fiction novel and learning about events from WW2 that I previously wouldn’t have heard about. The novel tackles difficult issues with racism at the forefront. I had no idea that Australia had in force a White Australian Policy and an Immigration restriction Act. The historical aspects of the novel have been told well and I was interested in understanding the issues faced by soldiers serving in Townsville. However I felt the historical descriptions of events detracted from the story and the characters were not as fully developed so I wasn’t as invested or interested in the outcome. For example the storyline between Captain Samuel Robinson and Amelia was just left without a conclusion and the impact of Kasey’s death on Betty was never explored. – Emma, VIC, 3 stars

Judy Nunn knows how to write a great Aussie story filled with quintessential Australian characters. Khaki Town, set in wartime Townsville, is a character driven story centred on the rumoured uprising of African American soldiers during their time in Australia helping to build airfields. The characters are sincere and believable and the main theme of racism rings true to the era. The story builds slowly on why the soldiers mutinied. Highlighting the effect the influx of American soldiers had on the residents of Townsville and on the Australian soldiers. The attitude some people had to the African American soldiers is shocking but the treatment they received from their own white officers is horrifying. Nunn has written a fictional account of the time but the main points ring true to documents that have been uncovered. This is a story that has been covered up by both the Australian and American governments far too long. *The book contains offensive language that the author included to remain true to the era. – Veronica, NSW, 4 stars

Judy Nunn is a brilliant story teller and she really brings the Townsville of 1942 to life. Her characters are colourful and she doesn’t shy away from the racial discrimination issue, tackling it head on. Action, humour, romance, song and dance: what more could you need? My first by Judy Nunn, but not my last! – Marianne, NSW, 5 stars

Not my usual type of book but I have been trying different genre’s this year. I have never read a Judy Nunn book before and, while I can appreciate the research and historical impact of this book, I must admit I’m not a fan. The racism and violence, while said to be appropriate for the time, was difficult to read. Thanks to Better Reading for the opportunity to read this book for an honest review. – Donna, VIC, 2 stars

The locals who have stayed in Townsville, North Queensland, despite the threat of a Japanese invasion are out to make the best of it. A black market is burgeoning, pretty girls enjoy attending dances with the troops, and in various ventures entrepreneurial women are making their fortunes from the ‘over-paid, over-sexed and over here’ Yanks. The town is full of khaki uniforms and Brown’s Hotel is thriving. A newspaper reporter is noting the casualties of war at home. He discovers Ross River Fever is the convenient cover story for the deaths of an unknown number of soldiers – and they’re all Negro. All the black troops are unarmed, and appear to be used as slave labour in the levelling of the harsh terrain for airstrips. Their lack of access to recreational pursuits lead to a tragic outcome. His report, silenced not only by wartime censorship but governmental policy, is passed to the American Congressman Lyndon Baines Johnson investigating the 96th Battalion’s mutiny. Over a Bundy or two, and over almost 70 years later. what is eventually revealed is a tale of bullying and racism by individuals and governments. A shameful part of Australia’s history, but (like Betty’s first orgasm) this Judy Nunn read did not disappoint. – Anita, QLD, 5 stars

I love Judy Nunn’s books. They are always well researched with interesting characters. Best of all, I learn new things on a broad range of topics. ‘Khaki Town’ is no exception. I was fascinated to read of the activities in Townsville in 1942 relating to the mobilisation of troops, the arrival of American troops, the protections taken to ensure the North remained safe, the profiteering and the deprivations suffered by all, including rationing. The main theme of the book is about racism and discrimination in that period. The White Australia policy was in play. The Australian Government initially refused to have the black American troops but then accepted a compromise where the black troops were to have a reduced visibility. There was conflict between American and Australian soldiers; white American soldiers and black American soldiers; and discriminatory practices and issues for Aboriginal Australians. As always, there are individuals who shine through who were not racist and I found them endearing. This book has an historical importance in revealing a shameful incident that was concealed. As Judy points out we may never know the full story. – Sandra, ACT, 4 stars

Khaki town is set in 1942 and follows the story of the people of Townsville on the brink of invasion from the Japanese. 70000 American and Australian soldiers are waiting to be transported to the South Pacific for combat so the town is buzzing with soldiers looking for entertainment. Tensions are rising as the Australians feel like the Americans are taking their women and conflict between the American black GI’s and white GI’s is at an all-time high. Many characters are introduced in the beginning and I must admit I was worried that I would lose track of who is who but Nunn’s descriptions and wonderful storytelling ensures that this does not happen. I thoroughly enjoyed following the storylines of each character. I do however wish I could find out what happened to some of them post-war- but I guess that may be best left to another book. Nunn doesn’t shy away from themes such as racism, sex, prostitution, fighting and violence which some may find shocking however I believe this just helps in placing the reader in that time and getting a better understanding of how things were in Townsville back in 1942. Nunn herself admits in her note to readers that she has made no attempt to soften the language and themes as this would not be true to those times. A great read. A fantastic telling of an unknown story from its time. 4 stars. – Hannah, NT, 4 stars

Through a lot of research by Judy Nunn ‘Khaki Town’ has come to fruition exposing a subject that many would prefer to have been ‘swept under the carpet’. It brings to life the complexities and hardship of war; the loss, the lonliness, the courage and the ability of some people who, in the face of adversity rose above it all to succeed and to help others to do likewise. It also showed the ugliness of racism and how the bitterness of one man in particular brought about by his narrow-minded upbringing made others suffer. Whilst another’s upbringing taught her ‘Colour is only skin deeo, people are people, good bad or indifferent. Make no assumptions until you get to know the person inside the skin.’ I enjoyed reading this book and felt totally immersed in the story. Brilliant, Judy Nunn! Just brilliant! – Laurel, NSW, 5 stars

I was extremely lucky to win an advance copy of Judy Nunn’s new book Khaki Town from Better Reading . Judy is one of my fave authors and I love how she weaves historical details/events into a great storyline. Your learning about history whilst enjoying a fantastic read. Khaki Town is a war novel set in Townsville, Queensland in 1942 during World War 2. On the first page of the novel Judy states the following : This book is about racism and there are some passages that readers may find offensive and even shocking. Well that’s totally true. The racial tensions between the black and white American army troops deeply saddened me and made me quite angry. The blacks were treated like second class citizens and they basically were slaves. I loved reading about the characters of Betty and Amelia and how they changed throughout the story. I also felt deeply connected with the characters of Ant and Kasey. Absolutely loved reading this book. – Yvette, NSW, 5 stars

Judy Nunn’s eagerly awaited “Khaki Town” has delivered in spades what we have come to expect from Judy – a truly fine Australian read, with fact and fiction seamlessly melded into a book where pages almost turn themselves. Khaki Town brings to life Townsville in the last stages of World War 2, when US and Australian troops in their thousands changed the landscape of Townsville forever, as Australia bunkers down against the looming invasion by Japan. The diversity of the Aussie and Yank in this era is clearly revealed in Judy’s characterisation of both fictional and real characters through the book, which in many cases have a basis on true events during the time the American Army was based in Australia. The issues of Aussie vs Yank are equally challenged with those of white vs black, as well as those of military vs civilian. Definitely one to read if you love real historically based Aussie fiction – Judy’s ability to combine impeccable research with a beautifully scripted story has again resulted in what is sure to be a top seller. – Jane, NSW, 5 stars

Thank you to Better Reading for my ARC of the book for an unbiased opinion. This is my first Judy Nunn novel and won’t be my last. I really enjoyed the historical aspects of the story and the extensive research. The language and actions are hard to read in today’s climate but as the author herself says at the start of the book she has had to use era appropriate details that will offend. Highly recommended read for the history of Townsville during WWII and the impact on the local people.Thank you to Better Reading for my ARC of the book for an unbiased opinion. This is my first Judy Nunn novel and won’t be my last. I really enjoyed the historical aspects of the story and the extensive research. The language and actions are hard to read in today’s climate but as the author herself says at the start of the book she has had to use era appropriate details that will offend. Highly recommended read for the history of Townsville during WWII and the impact on the local people. – Lainie, ACT, 4 stars

I was hooked on this book from the opening scene where President LBJ and Senator Robert Kennedy we’re drinking Bundaberg Rum in the Oval Office. The characters are well described. It’s an interesting insight into race relations. A very readable and enjoyable book. – Julie, ACT, 5 stars

Thank you Better Reading for my ARC. I found the historical aspects of the story of Townsville in 1942 fascinating. I was unaware of the 10 tens of thousands of American soldiers in North Queensland, and of the racial conflict that followed. The ensuing cover up of death from ‘friendly’ fire is shocking. The main characters didn’t come alive for me, I think mainly because the author specifically wrote in a 1940’s voice to maintain authenticity, but it made the story a little flat for me. I was interested to learn about the Government of the day’s decision not to protect North Queensland against potential Japanese invasion and that troops were only stationed from Brisbane to protect the infrastructure of the Southern States. – Pamela, QLD, 3 stars

Judy Nunn has woven a great fictional story around factual events which occurred in Townsville Qld during WW2. This is a story mainly about racism directed at African American servicemen who were billeted in Townsville. They were not welcomed in Townsville by some of the locals and Australian soldiers but they mainly received this treatment from white American soldiers who were also there at the time. These African American soldiers were used as labourers building airstrips and not as fighters. The story revolves around a good hearted female pub owner, black market booze, romance but mainly about the treatment and death of many of the African American troops. I loved her characters and the use of Townsville’s locality. This book is a great read. – Andrew, ACT, 5 stars

Judy Nunn has once again produced a well writen and enjoyable storey. Set in Townsville, a war time storey about racial prejudice which has been secret for so long. The storey was thought provoking. I thoroughly enjoyed the characters, from the locals to the soldiers and the background of the part in the war Townsville had. Such a moving book and I would recommend to anyone. – Rachel, QLD, 5 stars

Before I’d even finished the first chapter I knew this was going to be a good read, and I wasn’t wrong! With lively characters weaved throughout a story based on little known events it kept the pages turning with anticipation and intrigue. The content of the story could be viewed as somewhat confronting, but I found it refreshing that there was no censoring in how this story was told. A story that they wanted to keep a secret has inspired a novel that is rich in both history and culture, a brutally honest retelling of a time that is well known about, and events that are not. An exciting read that pulls the heart, and the head in many different directions forcing you to think and feel in unexpected ways as the story unravels in all of it’s brilliance. Thank you Judy Nunn for the wonderful read and to Penguin Random House Australia and Better Reading for the opportunity to review this book. – Belinda, VIC, 5 stars

Judy Nunn has the knack of picking a time in Australia’s history and presenting to the reader from a different point of view than what has historically been reported. In Khaki Town, Nunn takes us to Townsville just after the fall of Singapore and bombing of Darwin. As thousands of military troops descend on Townsville, we are presented with a town under pressure and a variety of characters whose lives slowly become more and more intertwined. While Khaki Town is set in Australia, the underlying themes of racism, prejudice and violence are as prevalent in the American characters as they are the Australians. While I found this novel slow to start with, due to the many varying characters that needed to be introduced, I soon found myself propelled back in time to a hot and humid 1942. Once all the back stories of the characters were accounted for I found the book picked up pace considerably. – Mel, NSW, 4 stars

Absolutely loved Khaki Town! This book is such an eye opener. Judy Nunn has the knack of blending well research history into a very readable story. This book highlights the plight of non Australians which is being echoed by items in our news today. – Sue, QLD, 5 stars

I really enjoyed Khaki Town. It showed another side to the usual stories of World War 2. I enjoyed that it was set in Townsville,a town with a lot of history that not a lot of people are aware of. The characters were written so well I felt that I knew them. The interweaving of white Australian and Aboriginal Australian characters was made more realistic by their back stories. By the end I couldn’t put it down and needed to know how everyone faired. – Amy, ACT, 4 stars

Khaki Town is the first book by Australia actress and author Judy Nunn that I have read. Judy most certainly has a new fan – what an incredible book. I struggled to put this down. The last few nights I have been immersed in the life of 1942’s Townsville. My preferred genre is crime and thriller but 2019 for me has been about branching out and reading different genres and definitely more Australian writers. Best decision I have made as I have discovered some incredible books and this is definitely high on my list of favourite books for 2019. Khaki Town is an emotional book in so many ways. This book made me cry, it made me laugh, it was inspiring and it made me so angry! This story is inspired by a true story of a story that the government did not want told. But a story that needs to be told, of Australia’s history, of America’s history and the truth of what happened in WW2. Australia is on the brink of invasion from Japan. Townsville, in far north Queensland is a major hub for both Australian and American troops. The locals are loving the thriving economy, the America’s have plenty of money to spend on alcohol and girls. The local pub The Brown’s Hotel is packed to the rafters every night and day and the owner Val Callahan is counting her money. It is a safe place for all the soldiers – both black and white to wind down and relax. The Australian’s are accepting of all the visitors, although the Aussie men are jealous of the wealth. The American military is still run but racist leaders and the black soldiers do not have an easy time of anything. The behaviour of those in charge is appalling and trouble is brewing. And when it kicks off it really kicks off. This is a fantastic story of history, racism, love, drama and death. I can’t recommend this book more. Thanks to Penguin Books Australia and Better Reading for my advanced copy of this book to read. Released in Australia in October you need to read this story. All opinions are my own and are in no way biased. – Mandy, NSW, 5 stars

Khaki Town, takes place in Townsville in 1942 and during WW II. Singapore has just taken by the Japanese army and is Australia going to be next? Tension is high and everyone is on edge. Queensland is a melting pot, due to the tension between the Aussie soldiers and the cashed up Yanks! For the African American soldiers things havent changed, they signed up to fight and but instead their being used, to dig ditches and build runways. Khaki town is a story about war, racism, bullying and injustice. Combine this with the typical Aussie way of life, drinking at the local pub, flirting with the bar maids and gambling. The racial violence explodes and of course due to the times it’s covered up! Thank you Penguin Random House, Better Reading and Judy Nunn for my copy of her new book. – Karen, SA, 3 stars

I was lucky to receive an advanced copy of Khaki Town through Better Reading. I enjoyed the opportunity to read a genre I normally wouldn’t automatically choose and I’m so glad I did. Khaki Town is a historical fiction which is based on a true wartime story in Townsville. I was impressed at the extensive research the author had done to create a wonderful novel for her readers. One thing I loved was how much I learnt, I had no idea the place Townsville held in our wartime history and the shocking events that occurred involving American troops. This book transports the reader back in time to Townville during World War II and the introduction of the fictional characters really brings the story to life. The characters Judy Nunn creates are especially endearing, both the civilians and soldiers, (except for the bullies or villains of course) and their individual stories are captivating. Some moments are truly heartbreaking but necessary to fully portray the bullying and racism that occurred. Judy Nunn has done an amazing job of sharing this story which has essentially been covered up and I fully recommend it. Thank you Better Reading and Penguin Random House Australia. – Kim, VIC, 4 stars

Khaki Town is a beautifully written story based on the actual events in Townsville during World War II. The historical facts interwoven with the lives of the fictional characters makes for a compelling read. This novel would appeal to lovers of fictional, historical and political stories alike. – Michelle, TAS, 4 stars

An interesting mixture of fictionalised characters (some extremely likeable, some very much not) and real historical events. The early chapters really focus on the development of characters and relationships, so move quite slowly. There is also a major focus on attitudes at the time, particularly around the black American soldiers serving in Australia. This sets the background for some largely unknown but very compelling historical events to take place. Whilst I enjoyed reading about such historical events included in this book, the exposition at the beginning of the novel was very drawn out and I found myself hoping to reach the climax faster. I did definitely enjoy learning about a period of Australian history which is interesting, yet relatively unknown. – Meg, VIC, 3 stars

I have to prefuice my review by saying that I have never read a book written by Judy Nunn. I have heard the hype about her previous books and that this is an author that should be on my do read list…. so Khaki Town it was. What can I say…. I loved how the book is based on an even that took place in Townsville that not many people know about. I think the themes of the book are very interesting and made me at times feel uncomfortbale when reading passages that were racist in nature. I wish the book developed deeper into the history of this time. Where the book lost me, was the amount of characters and the 3 sections of the book. I found myself reading about one characters plot and then there was a link to another characters plot and found this jaggering. It would have been a more intense read if there were fewer characters and there was more explored around the history of the time. I am sadden to say that I found the book less then inspiring and at times I found myself lost in whose story I was reading and making the link between one and the other. What a shame as I had such high hopes. – Katarzyna, VIC, 2 stars

Khaki Town, by Judy Nunn, is a historical novel set in North Queensland in the 1940’s during World War 2. Khaki Town was an enjoyable read of a very interesting topic that I haven’t personally come across before in fiction. I loved reading about an era that was so recent but still so very different to my own. A little confronting at times, the warning at the start was very important for our PC times. I would definitely recommend this novel to any history and war fans. – Cassandra, QLD, 4 stars

Judy Nunn is one of Australia’s most prolific authors, with ‘Khaki Town’ being her latest release novel. Chaos runs throughout as Singapore has succumb to war, Darwin has been bombed and everyone is on high alert with fear. Set in Townsville in 1942, the tiny town has been transformed into a hive of military activity with 70,000 American and Australian soldiers preparing to fight conflict in the South Pacific. Australian and American soldier’s clash, with the high stakes pushing people into rivalry and alienation. Opposing conditions and expectations amongst the troops is too much to bare. While racial tensions and prejudice between the white and black American soldiers, the black, who are relishing a break from their usual segregationist conditions are primed to explode. One night a mass street fight becomes the catalyst to a great implosion… Khaki Town is a book about a little known time in history, it is raw and rich in characters and a story that needs to be told. – Lydia, VIC, 4 stars

“Khaki Town” is based on genuine, fascinating events from World War II. There’s a lot of exposition and characters don’t really come to life. I found it an interesting read, and probably memorable for the history woven into it, but not particularly compelling. Nunn has done an excellent job of depicting the attitudes of the time; the atmosphere in Townsville during wartime, the varying attitudes to negros and Indigenous Australians, the racism and bullying within the American Army, and the attitude to “local women”. However, individual characters were less vivid. Nunn details their background, but for me they never came to life. The novel is very heavy on exposition. We rarely see what motivates a character; we’re told. This weakens the novel considerably as it’s hard to care about characters who don’t feel real. Unfortunately this is true even of the real people who appear in the novel. I was fascinated and completely engaged by historical events I knew very little of. However, the amount of exposition slowed the narrative and impacted negatively on the characterisation. This is a very palatable way of acquiring a little more historical knowledge, but it’s a good novel rather than an outstanding one. – Lorraine, ACT, 3 stars

Another book of Judy Nunn’s I couldn’t put down! Nunn explores a well kept secret that most Australians have never heard about but happened right here in Australia in WWII! It was well written, not focusing on one characters view of the story but a number of people, all tied together to tell an interesting but horrifically sad story. Existing fans of Judy Nunn will love this book and many new fans will be created once reading Khaki Town. – Emma, VIC, 5 stars

Based on true events, hidden for decades, Khaki Town is an eye-opening read. The explosive mix of racism and power comes to a head as black troops taste freedom from segregation for the first time in Townsville during WW2. Welcomed by most locals, especially those with goods to sell, the black Americans still have to deal with racist government decisions and diabolical leaders intent on keeping them subordinate. The tension builds, until one night they fight back, with disastrous consequences. But will the aftermath bring change?! Having never read Judy Nunn before I did not know what to expect and was thrilled to be so well informed and entertained. I highly recommend Khaki Town. A big 4 stars from me. – Daniella, QLD, 4 stars

Another great story from Judy Nunn, which I devoured in two days, which is a measure of how the story grabbed me, I didn’t want to race through it but I was impatient to see what would happen. Highly recommended for readers who like a good Aussie story. – Jan, SA, 4 stars

Khaki Town Book Review. A thoroughly readable and insightful book by Judy Nunn about a series of long buried, and forgotten disturbing ‘incidents’ during World War 2. The Australian government welcomes US help in the Pacific and on home soil, so, although still clinging to its colonial White Australia Policy, it must put aside its objections to ‘Negro’ troops being stationed in Townsville. The locals, like shrewd, attractive publican Val, her attractive barmaids and her black marketeer, gambling operator have no trouble accepting and welcoming the men of the “96th Battalion Engineers (Coloured)” who are charmed by the lack of southern American segregation signs and can let off steam playing jazz, drinking, dancing, falling in love -and even learning to write. Mercilessly bullied by their own commander-as if still slaves- tensions boil over when some local residents treat those who’ve come to protect them as invaders. Wartime censorship prevents the publication of these dark episodes by a determined local journalist whose private documentation eventually becomes part of an internal US investigation starring a wily and up and coming Congressman. A timely book coinciding with the release of the film ‘The Great Australian Dream’ and maps of historical Australian Indigenous massacres… – Jane, NSW, 5 stars

Khaki Town is a wartime novel set in Townsville North Queensland, although this is a work of fiction there is quite a lot of factual events that actually took place, This is a book I couldn’t stop reading and throughly enjoyed. – Deborah, NSW, 5 stars

Khaki Town by Judy Nunn Fact or Fiction what a great question, So much of this book is fact easy to forget it’s a work of fiction absolutely brilliant how Judy Nunn has combined both, Will definitely be a best seller. – Gavin, NSW, 5 stars

Judy Nunn’s Khaki Town surprised me. Set in Townsville back in the 1940’s, this book isn’t like other wartime stories I’ve read before. It’s got a quintessentially Aussie setting (can you get more Australian than a Queensland pub?) but despite the antipodean locale it focused a lot on the racial divide amongst the troops – especially those from America. It was violent at times and tackled some really important and difficult issues. I was hooked on the historical side of the story. This is a book based on events in my own backyard and I had no clue about any of it. But Khaki Town lacked a certain something that made me connect more emotionally to the story. I enjoyed the read but felt somewhat disconnected to the characters no matter how interested I was in what was happening at the time. – Kate, QLD, 3 stars

This book was impossible to put down from start to finish. Set in Second World War Australia, Judy Nunn has managed to write a compelling novel while also staying true to historical accuracy, which is commendable. The research which has gone into this book is evident throughout, and the story and characters are compelling. This is the first of Judy Nunn’s books I have read, but I would be keen to read another! – Ash, ACT, 5 stars

What an awesome book by an incredible story teller. Well done Judy Nunn you have just won yourself a new fan that is so looking forward to reading more of your books. I’ve always picked up a Judy Nunn book but have never opened one to read……something to do with the acting career. Home and Away does that, but am I glad I started reading Khaki Town. Man I love historical fiction especially ones based in Australia. OK, it’s 1942, Australia is on the brink of invasion from Japan. Townsville, in far north Queensland is a major hub for both Australian and American troops. The Americans come along, loaded with money and ready to spend on the local economy of Townsville. Only problem is, many are black Americans and man, how the white Americans hate them having privileges. So you can imagine what happens. We also read about the White Australia Policy describing the horrors that aboriginal women went through on Palm Island and North Queensland. And what the government wanted to do if Japan invaded Australia. Along the way we meet some colourful characters and learnt their backstories. These are the stories I mostly enjoyed. Like Val who worked hard to establish The Brown’s Hotel with her famous snake competition. Edie was also a favourite with her great laundry service. Both strong females making a marked when it was hard for females. Putting all of these together, you get a story full of history, racism, love, drama and death. If you love all of these then Khaki Town is for you and it’s a book I highly recommend. – Maria, SA, 5 stars




Khaki Town by Judy Nunn: Your Preview Verdict

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15 October 2019

Khaki Town by Judy Nunn: Your Preview Verdict

    Great Storytelling: Read an Extract from Khaki Town by Judy Nunn

    Review | Extract

    8 October 2019

    Great Storytelling: Read an Extract from Khaki Town by Judy Nunn

      An Exceptional Novel from one of Australia's Best Authors: Read a Review of Khaki Town by Judy Nunn

      Review | Our Review

      8 October 2019

      An Exceptional Novel from one of Australia's Best Authors: Read a Review of Khaki Town by Judy Nunn

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          I was Inspired by a Particularly Horrendous Event: Q&A with Khaki Town Author, Judy Nunn.

          News | Author Related

          15 October 2019

          I was Inspired by a Particularly Horrendous Event: Q&A with Khaki Town Author, Judy Nunn.

            Publisher details

            Khaki Town
            Judy Nunn
            Australian Fiction, Fiction
            20 October, 2020


            It seems to have happened overnight, Val thought . How extraordinary. We’ve become a khaki town. It’s March 1942. Singapore has fallen. Darwin has been bombed. Australia is on the brink of being invaded by the Imperial Japanese Forces. And Val Callahan, publican of The Brown’s Bar in Townsville, could not be happier as she contemplates the fortune she’s making from lonely, thirsty soldiers. Overnight the small Queensland city is transformed into the transport hub for 70,000 American and Australian soldiers destined for combat in the South Pacific. Barbed wire and gun emplacements cover the beaches. Historic buildings are commandeered. And the dance halls are in full swing with jazz, jitterbug and jive. The Australian troops begrudge the confident, well-fed ‘Yanks’ who have taken over their town and their women. There’s growing conflict, too, within the American ranks, because black GIs are enjoying the absence of segregation. And the white GIs don't like it. As racial violence explodes through the ranks of the military, a young United States Congressman, Lyndon Baines Johnson, is sent to Townsville by his president to investigate. ‘Keep a goddamned lid on it, Lyndon,’ he is told, ‘lest it explode in our faces …’ Judy Nunn’s exciting new novel, a no.1 bestseller, is inspired by a true wartime story that has remained a well-kept secret for over seventy years.
            Judy Nunn
            About the author

            Judy Nunn

            Judy Nunn’s career has been long, illustrious and multifaceted. After combining her internationally successful acting career with scriptwriting for television and radio, Judy decided in the 90s to turn her hand to prose. Her first three novels, The Glitter Game, Centre Stage and Araluen, set respectively in the worlds of television, theatre and film, became instant bestsellers, and the rest is history, quite literally in fact. She has since developed a love of writing Australian historically-based fiction and her fame as a novelist has spread rapidly throughout Europe where she is published in English, German, French, Dutch, Czech and Spanish. Her subsequent bestsellers, Kal, Beneath the Southern Cross, Territory, Pacific, Heritage, Floodtide, Maralinga,Tiger Men,Elianne, Spirits of the Ghan, Sanctuary and Khaki Town confirmed Judy’s position as one of Australia’s leading fiction writers. She has now sold over one million books in Australia alone. In 2015 Judy was made a Member of the Order of Australia for her "significant service to the performing arts as a scriptwriter and actor of stage and screen, and to literature as an author."

            Books by Judy Nunn


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