Martin Crotty

Comparison, when it comes to historical study, is rarely devoid of ambition. The aim is to identify patterns that are global in their significance and to overcome the tendency to see a unique trajectory for particular places or nations. Yet such work frequently founders when it becomes apparent that the author’s knowledge of alternative cases is thin or that the claim to comparison is made to hide a focus that is in fact quite narrow. Not so in this co-authored book, which builds upon its three authors’ areas of expertise – the Anglosphere (Martin Crotty), Asia (Neil J. Diamant), and Europe (Mark Edele) – to deliver a compelling argument about veteran benefits in the twentieth century.

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Australia’s role in the war against the Ottoman Empire from 1916 to 1918 is much less widely understood than its contribution to the doomed campaign in the Dardanelles or the muddy slog on the Western Front. It is one aspect of Australia’s World War I that has not been overwritten by historians ...

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In their recent polemic What’s Wrong With Anzac? (2010), Marilyn Lake and Henry Reynolds lament the militarisation of Australian history epitomised by the profusion of memoirs and military history in bookshops. The authors make a fair point that war history and commemoration has drowned out other notable achievements and failings in our country’s past. But their broad brush sweeps away an important Australian tradition of critical reflection about war and society. If historians ignored Australians at war – as most did until the 1970s – there would be much more wrong with Anzac. Anzac Legacies, edited by Martin Crotty and Marina Larsson, is a compelling and insightful collection of carefully researched essays about the impact of war upon Australians and Australian society. It is a timely reminder that historians need to stay in the Anzac game, and can take it in challenging directions.

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The Great Mistakes of Australian History by Martin Crotty and David Andrew Roberts

by
February 2007, no. 288

The trouble about identifying great mistakes in Australian history is that most of them seemed like good ideas at the time. When, for instance, a recent IPA Review identified as one of Australia’s major errors the rejection in 1905 of George Reid’s free-trade federal government in favour of Alfred Deakin’s tariff protectionists, it indulged in anachronistic hindsight. However suited globalisation may be to the geopolitics and technology of the present day, things were different a hundred years ago. Every nation except Great Britain and Turkey used the tariff to protect local capitalists and employees. A whole anthology of ‘great mistakes’ risks deteriorating into a facile exercise in ancestor-bashing.

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