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Jean Bou

Australian Peacekeeping: Sixty years in the field edited by David Horner, Peter Loney and Jean Bou

July-August 2009, no. 313

The recent, sometimes heated, debate among policy experts and commentators about Australia’s Defence White Paper has helped give focus to a curious paradox: that for the last two decades or so, since the release of the Defence of Australia White Paper in 1987, there has been a profound disconnection between defence planning and procurement and the actual operations conducted by the Australian Defence Force (ADF). With its focus on major new spending commitments on submarines, frigates and the Joint Strike Fighter in the midst of ongoing operations in Afghanistan, Timor-Leste and the Solomon Islands – which require none of these big-ticket items but which have, at times, stretched the ADF’s deployable capacity – the present White Paper risks falling into the same trap.

This excellent new volume, a product of the Australian War Memorial’s major research project on the history of Australian peacekeeping, provides a stirring corrective to this enduring paradox. Peacekeeping, its editors argue and contributors demonstrate, is a distinctive military activity that requires special skills, resources and equipment. It is always complex, and sometimes highly dangerous.

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A Military History of Australia by Jeffrey Grey & Duty First by David Horner and Jean Bou

June 2008, no. 302

Not many Australian historians have managed to publish major books, based on years of scholarly research, which have evoked both immediate and enduring acclaim. It therefore says something both about intrinsic value and about the tastes of the book-buying public when such a book goes into a second or even a third edition, ten or more years after its first appearance. The weeks preceding Anzac Day are always a popular time for the publication of books on military history, but this year has been especially notable for witnessing a number of reissues, alongside a flood of new titles. The two under review here are the third edition of Jeffrey Grey’s A Military History of Australia, and the second edition of David Horner’s and Jean Bou’s history of the Royal Australian Regiment, Duty First. Others include the third edition of Ken Inglis’s highly acclaimed study of war memorials, Sacred Places, and new issues of Ross McMullin’s biography of Major General ‘Pompey’ Elliott and Gavan Daws’s Prisoners of the Japanese.

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