Astrid Edwards reviews 'Dunera Lives: Volume 1: A visual history' by Ken Inglis, Seumas Spark, and Jay Winter with Carol Bunyan

Astrid Edwards reviews 'Dunera Lives: Volume 1: A visual history' by Ken Inglis, Seumas Spark, and Jay Winter with Carol Bunyan

Dunera Lives: Volume 1: A visual history

by Ken Inglis, Seumas Spark, and Jay Winter with Carol Bunyan

Monash University Publishing, $39.95 pb, 576 pp, 9781925495492

Dunera Lives: A visual history is a compelling examination of the experiences of Britain’s enemy aliens within Australia’s detention centres in World War II. This evocative visual narrative of primary sources, compiled by the late Ken Inglis with Seumas Spark and Jay Winter, assisted by Carol Bunyan, brings these fraught years to life. Dunera Lives is both a serious historical study and a means to dip into twentieth-century history.

The work includes drawings, paintings, cartoons, and official documents, some of which have not been made public before. This is the art of the tortured and the literature of the exiled; personal stories of deportation and internment. The images, ranging from humorous to anguished, are testaments to help us understand the past and reflect on the present. Robert Loewenstein’s painted map of Australia as an island bordered not by water but by barbed wire is particularly jarring, an image that in 2018 could come from Manus Island or Nauru.

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Astrid Edwards

Astrid Edwards

Astrid Edwards is the host of The Garret: Writers on Writing. She teaches writing at RMIT University and serves on the Board of the Melbourne Writers Festival.

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