Joan Beaumont reviews 'Anzac' by Carolyn Holbrook

Joan Beaumont reviews 'Anzac' by Carolyn Holbrook

ANZAC: THE UNAUTHORISED BIOGRAPHY

by by Carolyn Holbrook

NewSouth, $34.99 pb, 272 pp, 9781742234076

The resurgence of the Anzac legend in the last quarter of the twentieth century took many Australians by surprise. In the aftermath of the Vietnam War, it seemed that the rituals of Anzac Day would wither and fade away as the generations who fought the two world wars died. It proved not to be so. ‘Anzac’, to use the common shorthand, now dominates the national memory of war as strongly as it ever did, although it is not the same legend as it was 100 years ago. Many commentators see this ‘return’ of Anzac as a spontaneous upwelling of national sentiment, a natural and appropriate honouring of those who have died in Australia’s defence. Critics, however, discern a more deliberate orchestration of public sentiment by successive governments, which, for a variety of political purposes, have ‘militarised’ Australian history and sidelined other competing narratives of Australia’s development.

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Published in March 2015, no. 369
Joan Beaumont

Joan Beaumont

Joan Beaumont works in the Strategic and Defence Studies Centre, The Australian National University.  Her publications include the critically acclaimed Broken Nation: Australians and the Great War (2013); Ministers, Mandarins and Diplomats: The Making of Australian Foreign Policy, 1941–69 (ed.); Australia's War, 1939–45 (ed.); Australia's War, 1914–18 (ed.); and Gull Force: Survival and Leadership in Captivity, 1941–1945 (1988). She has developed a website on The Thai–Burma railway and Hellfire Pass for the Australian Department of Veterans’ Affairs and is a member of the Australian Research Council project, Serving Our Country: A History of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People in the Defence of Australia.

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