Peter Stanley reviews 'Unnecessary Wars' by Henry Reynolds

Peter Stanley reviews 'Unnecessary Wars' by Henry Reynolds

Unnecessary Wars

by Henry Reynolds

NewSouth, $29.99 pb, 280 pp, 9781742234809

In 1885 the Singleton MHA and Militia officer Albert Gould reflected that, New South Wales having sent a contingent to fight for the empire in the Sudan, 'we shall be expected to do it again'. (Henry Reynolds, reliably casual about Dead White Men, just calls him 'AJ Gould'.) But indeed they did; next in South Africa in 1899, the subject of Reynolds's Unnecessary Wars, and again and again. Reynolds has for more than forty years served Australia well as an historian of the colonial frontier and of relations between white and black. In Unnecessary Wars, he writes, 'past and present meet' again. One of the Unnecessary Wars in question is the Boer War, aka the Second Anglo-Boer War, aka the South African War of 1899–1902: the war that Australians were fighting even as the six colonies federated on 1 January 1901.

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Peter Stanley

Peter Stanley

Peter Stanley is a Research Professor at UNSW Canberra and the author of about thirty books, many of them on military history.

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