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Khaki Town

4.11  ·  Rating details ·  245 ratings  ·  41 reviews
Khaki Town, Judy Nunn's stunning new novel, is inspired by a wartime true story which the Government kept secret for over seventy years.

'It seems to have happened overnight,' Val thought as she pulled the beers. '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
Paperback, 382 pages
Published October 1st 2019 by Penguin Random House Australia
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Bec I would say yes if they are familiar with stories of World War II from history class. A warning though that she makes no attempt to soften the issues…moreI would say yes if they are familiar with stories of World War II from history class. A warning though that she makes no attempt to soften the issues of racism and uses the language of the time period in which it is written - it can be shocking. (less)
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March 1942 in Townsville, North Queensland, and it was about to become inundated by US soldiers. Val Callahan owned The Brown’s Hotel where the soldiers and locals congregated for a drink and some company. The Australian soldiers were jealous of their American counterparts as they had more money and benefits than them; the local girls were more than happy to have the attention of the Yanks and the chocolates, nylons and all that came with it.

Val had no hesitation in allowing black and white
Mandy White
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 ...more
Veronica ⭐️
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.

Nunn paints a vivid picture of the 1940’s. Val Callahan, one time prostitute, now owner of the local pub is beautiful, tough and astute. She watches over her two young
Sep 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Khaki Town is the fifteenth novel by Australian actress and author, Judy Nunn. By the time Val Callaghan bought The Brown’s Bar in Townsville, she’d already lived a colourful life. When the north Queensland town was inundated with US troops, it got even more colourful, even if khaki seemed to be the dominant colour.

The Brown’s Bar was popular with the black US servicemen of the 96th battalion stationed in Townsville for the construction of airbases and runways, because they were just as
Amanda - Mrs B's Book Reviews

‘Khaki Town is a work of fiction, inspired by factual events about which very little is known. This makes for an interesting combination for the reader (at least I hope so) and something of a test for the author (I know so).’

Judy Nunn, Author’s Note, Khaki Town

Townsville in the 1940s comes alive through the expert penmanship of dedicated Australian historical fiction author Judy Nunn. Nunn is no novice to this field of fiction, and Khaki Town
Karren  Sandercock
Sep 04, 2019 rated it liked it
Thanks to Judy Nunn, Penguin Random House and Better Reading for my ARC of: Khaki Town.

Townsville 1942, the Japanese forces have just invaded Singapore, Australia looks like it could be next and everyone is on edge. Queensland is bustling with over 70,000 Australian diggers and American soldiers waiting to be sent to fight in the Pacific.

The African American soldiers who signed up to fight are frustrated, they haven't been issued with weapons, not given leave to go ashore when the ship first
Jennifer (JC-S)
‘A place they call Townsville.’

March 1942. Singapore has fallen. Darwin has been bombed. The Imperial Japanese Forces are on the brink of invading Australia. The small tropical city of Townsville in Queensland is transformed into a transport hub for 70,000 Australian and American soldiers destined for combat in the South Pacific.

Thirsty, lonely soldiers flock to The Brown’s Hotel. Even with restricted trading hours, Val Callahan, publican of The Brown’s Hotel, is making a fortune.

But there’s
Oct 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
OK so I couldnt wait for the library copy (22 reserves before it even came in) just had to buy the ebook. Happy I did. A really interesting part of Australian history which I knew next to nothing about other than (from another novel) that there had been troops in and around Townsville during the time in which this book is set.The history was interesting although it seems from the author notes that the majority of this book / characters is fictionalised. Im really enjoying Judy Nunn’s writing and ...more
Emma Moon
Sep 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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.
Thank you to Better Reading and @Penguin Books for the
Oct 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Brilliant, very interesting and quite shocking.
Angelynn Gill
Aug 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Khaki Town is a wonderfully crafted story. I was intrigued by the mix of true events combined with the fictional characters set during World War II in North Queensland. I couldn’t put the book down and really enjoyed reading it. Although some of the subject matter was a little confronting and difficult to read at times, I’m glad the story has been told as it just makes the novel so powerful. All in all, it was an intriguing blend of fictional drama, combined with Australian history and political ...more
Pam Tickner
Sep 08, 2019 rated it liked it
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 ...more
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 ...more
Sep 02, 2019 rated it liked it
“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
Nov 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
Judy Nunn's latest offering switches to Townsville during the 1940's and tells the story about the importation of US troops to Australia including African-american soldiers. This story is fiction but based on fact about the blatant racism there between the american soldiers and the consequences thereafter. So hard to believe that there was still so much hatred between Negros and white. A great depiction of Australia during those times when the 'yanks' came to town. A master story-teller which ...more
Lindy Kelly
Oct 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
An absolutely amazing read!
I'm born and bred in North QLD. I currently live in Townsville and my grandad served in the 31sth/51st Battalian in PNG during the time this story is set.
My grandad would never speak much of his days in the war and he's no longer with us today, so this story felt very personal and close to my heart. I now understand why my Poppy felt that he couldn't open up to us about things that happened during the war time.
This book made me feel that for one last time my Pop was
Emma Reekie
Sep 15, 2019 rated it liked it
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
Marisa Howden
Nov 11, 2019 rated it it was ok
Poorly written in my humble opinion. Nunn is all about ‘telling’ the story instead of ‘showing’ anything, with huge info dumps and backstory from the get go. There are way too many characters, with the reader barely given a chance to form a relationship with any of them. Who’s the hero, the protagonist? Val, Betty, Samuel, Kasey? Ahh! I find myself skimming over huge chunks as I try to get the jist of the story, which is extremely interesting but terribly executed.
Sep 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
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
Christine Gilbert
Nov 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
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 ...more
Sep 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
Khaki Town was a real eye opener for me. I knew little about American troops placed in Townsville or anywhere else in Australia during WW2. If you had asked me I would've said Sydney or Darwin. I certainly did not know about the events described in the book. And it seems neither did anyone else. Shameful events covered up at the time and even now not widely known.

It's 1942 and troops are sent to Townsville to build air strips to aid the fight up north. The troops are black. Most people are
Sep 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
Thanks to Better Reading I had the opportunity to read an advance 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 ...more
Christine Riley
Sep 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
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
Nov 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
There were rumours that things weren’t going well in Townsville in 1942. The Americans had to get special permission to bring in black soldiers to help prepare Australia for the expected invasion. (Due to the white Australia policy of the time)
There is tension between the American white and black soldiers. The black soldiers are only used as slaves and this doesn’t go down well with them. Generally the black American soldiers get on well with the Australians, though there is always the feeling
Tanya Hunter-Robinson
Nov 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
I was lucky enough to be sent a copy of Judy Nunn’s new book and it was a great read. The writing flowed so well through all the different characters that I didn’t get lost with any of their back stories and having visited Townsville many times, I was able to visualise it a little. For me, being originally from the UK, it’s not in our curriculum to be taught about the history of Australia or their role in the world wars, so reading this book was a huge eye-opener. I learnt about the involvement ...more
Nov 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
Judy Nunn says it best in her Authors note - 'Khaki town is a work of fiction, inspired by factual events about which very little is known.'

Khaki Town explores the racial tensions within the ranks of the American soldiers, and also between the Australian and American troops, all stationed in Townsville during World War II.
The racial tensions and bullying by white officers leading to a violent incident between black and white American soldiers and the immediate cover up of the incident by
Donna McEachran
Sep 12, 2019 rated it it was ok
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.
Sep 16, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: br-preview
Thanks to Better Reading for an ARC.
Not generally my style if book, although I enjoyed the historical aspect which was interesting.
As a POC it’s always interesting (and hard) reading about other people’s take on racism.
The writing style took away from character development, I think. We don’t really get inside any of the characters’ minds, so I didn’t really get invested in any of them.
I do know many who will enjoy this.
Melissa Millard
Oct 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I thoroughly enjoyed this well researched, well written fictionalised account of actual events that took place in Townsville, 1942.
I was easily transported back to 1942, the characters and their different back stories drawing me in quickly. It was, at times, quite confronting and hard to read, as Judy specifically didn’t soften or change the language that was used at the time, but this only added to the emotion and drama of the story.
An eye opening read. Absolutely fantastic.
Oct 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Another excellent book from Judy Nunn. A history, very well told and mixed with fiction to make it a readable story. Many facts are difficult to verify, but Judy Nunn has done a great deal of research to put together the true story that was never told. Highly recommended for anyone interested in Australia WW2 history, or just a very well told factual novel.
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Judy Nunn (born 13 April 1945) is an Australian actress and author.

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 80s to turn her hand to prose. The result was two adventure novels for children, EYE IN THE STORM and EYE IN THE CITY, which remain extremely
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