Australia’s Boldest Experiment: War and Reconstruction in the 1940s
NewSouth, $34.99 pb, 608 pp, 9781742231129
What is it about wars and the military that produce so much innovation and capacity? This a big and bold book which takes the contemporary collective awareness of Australia's wartime efforts on the battlefield and reflects on the building of the country on the back of the victory in 1945. It also invites the question of how best we can address the imperatives of building social infrastructure.
1939 was a watershed year in a number of ways. As Stuart Macintyre explains, the nation was in continuing decline following the Depression of the late 1920s (with nine per cent unemployment), and was faced with yet another major war on top of the terrible losses in World War I. On the backing of Britain's declaration of support in the face of the threat from an expansionist Japan, Australia committed to assist in the defence of Britain and reluctantly entered yet another European war.