Book Review: “Sweden” by Matthew Turner

Reviewed by Bev Scott

Vietnam War book Sweden

This book, written as historical fiction, offers a mostly unknown story about deserters from the Vietnam War. Japanese peace activist guides worked with great diligence to help the deserters escape Japan to a safe haven, Sweden. I found the story of their perilous efforts to escape both the Japanese police and the US military fascinating. I was a young adult at the time of the Vietnam War but the true experiences described in this book were unique and totally new to me. The characters were realistic and the descriptions of events in both Japan and the US seemed historically accurate.


My criticism of the book is that it moved too slowly with more description than necessary of the deserters’ experiences in the Japanese culture and environment. I found myself often bored and skipping paragraphs to move the story along. In addition, the introduction of characters at the beginning of the book was confusing to me. Some serious editing to address these issues would make this a compelling and vivid story.

About the Author

Matthew Turner was born in Greytown, New Zealand, in 1961. He studied at the University of Canterbury in Christchurch, where he earned a BA (Hons) in Japanese, and at Nagoya University and Keio University in Japan. He enjoys listening to jazz music and traveling on foot, and occasionally writes about these and other subjects at SWEDEN is his first novel.