Carolyn Holbrook reviews 'The Battle Within: POWs in postwar Australia' by Christina Twomey

Carolyn Holbrook reviews 'The Battle Within: POWs in postwar Australia' by Christina Twomey

The Battle Within: POWs in postwar Australia

by Christina Twomey

NewSouth, $39.99 pb, 320 pp, 9781742235684

The director of the Australian War Memorial, Brendan Nelson, recently announced plans for a $500 million underground expansion of the memorial. In justifying the expenditure, Nelson claimed that commemoration ‘is an extremely important part of the therapeutic milieu’ for returning soldiers; ‘I’ve particularly learned from the Vietnam experience it is important to tell the stories and tell them now. We tell them broadly and deeply and we don’t wait a decade.’

Christina Twomey’s new book, The Battle Within, traces the experiences of a group of returning soldiers who had to wait a lot longer than a decade to have their stories told. It was not until the 1980s that prisoners of the Japanese during World War II were invited into the temple of Anzac. Twomey uses the metaphor of the Thai–Burma railway, which she first saw as a twelve-year-old in 1980 and revisited in 2012, to describe their passage from exile to the increasingly elaborate centre of Anzac commemoration:

Read the rest of this article by purchasing a subscription to ABR Online, or subscribe to the print edition to receive access to ABR Online free of charge.

If you are a single issue subscriber you will need to upgrade your subscription to view back issues.

If you are already subscribed, click here to log in.

Published in August 2018, no. 403
Carolyn Holbrook

Carolyn Holbrook

Carolyn Holbrook is an Alfred Deakin Research Fellow at Deakin University. She is the au-thor of Anzac: The unauthorised biography (NewSouth, 2014), which won the New South Wales Premiers’ History Award and the Queensland Premiers’ Literary Award. She is the convenor of the Australian Policy and History network.

Leave a comment

Please note that all comments must be approved by ABR and comply with our Terms & Conditions.

NB: If you are an ABR Online subscriber or contributor, you will need to login to ABR Online in order to post a comment. If you have forgotten your login details, or if you receive an error message when trying to submit your comment, please email your comment (and the name of the article to which it relates) to comments@australianbookreview.com.au. We will review your comment and, subject to approval, we will post it under your name.