Duumvirates frequently dominate politics, irrespective of whether they are partners or rivals: Napoleon and Talleyrand; Nixon and Kissinger; Mao and Deng. But few second bananas survive history’s vicissitudes. A dwindling portion of the Australian public might still recognise the names of Robert Menzies and John Curtin, but one doubts whether anyone outside the field of diplomacy still recalls Richard Casey.
James Prior mounts a serious case for a re-evaluation of Casey’s influence upon the profound reorientation of US foreign policy throughout 1940–42. Australian historiography has traditionally accorded Curtin primacy in the forging of the American alliance. However, Prior delivers convincing evidence of Casey’s untiring efforts to convince Washington of the centrality of Australia as a ‘bridgehead and a base’ of operations.