Best We Forget: The war for white Australia, 1914–18 by Peter Cochrane

by
August 2018, no. 403
Marilyn Lake reviews 'Best We Forget: The war for white Australia, 1914–18' by Peter Cochrane

Best We Forget: The war for white Australia, 1914–18

by Peter Cochrane

Text Publishing, $32.99 pb, 264 pp, 9781925603750

Best We Forget: The war for white Australia, 1914–18 by Peter Cochrane

by
August 2018, no. 403

In pondering the construction of public memory in Ireland, the eminent American historian Richard White insisted on the demythologising work of history as a discipline: ‘History is the enemy of memory. The two stalk each other across the fields of the past, claiming the same terrain. History forges weapons from what memory has forgotten or suppressed.’ In Best We Forget: The war for white Australia, 1914–18, Peter Cochrane wants to jog Australia’s memory by reminding us that the celebrated myth of Anzac obscures a problematic history. But in joining the battle between history and memory, he notes the warning of his friend, the late John Hirst, who wrote: ‘My own view is that history will never beat myth.’ But does this assumed opposition really hold?

Marilyn Lake reviews 'Best We Forget: The war for white Australia, 1914–18' by Peter Cochrane

Best We Forget: The war for white Australia, 1914–18

by Peter Cochrane

Text Publishing, $32.99 pb, 264 pp, 9781925603750

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Comments (2)

  • I'll read the book. Prof. Lake's review is helpful in giving a glimpse of the content. In reference to the ANZAC story it's important to acknowledge the politicisation of Gallipoli by the Howard government. My view is that ANZAC/Gallipoli was actively transformed by recent elites, Liberals, the Bureaucracy and finally the people into a story of sacrificial national birth. It's been crafted into a spiritual sacrifice that is a fabric woven tightly with 19th century notions of manhood, twentieth century conceptions of nation, with a touch of authoritarianism to counter any lingering critique.
    Posted by Harry Spratt
    20 March 2019
  • Australians followed Britain into its Empire wars both before and after the supposed nationhood of Federation, and has followed the US into wars since WW2 [has Australia ever gone to war without following either? Perhaps supporting the emerging Indonesia from its colonial power, Holland was the first and last time?]. The British Empire has widened to the 'Anglo-sphere' led by America, and Australia remains on the side of the British-European heritage rather than growing closer [in all but trade] to the rest of the world. Though 'white Australia' is thankfully long dead, the history and the allegiances remain.
    Posted by Bob James
    08 October 2018

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