Histories of resilience

A magisterial study of the Depression
by
May 2022, no. 442
Buy this book

Australia’s Great Depression: How a nation shattered by the Great War survived the worst economic crisis it has ever faced by Joan Beaumont

Allen & Unwin, $49.99 hb, 574 pp

Histories of resilience

A magisterial study of the Depression
by
May 2022, no. 442
Gangs of men on relief work during the depression, 1930s (Sam Hood/State Library of New South Wales)
Gangs of men on relief work during the depression, 1930s (Sam Hood/State Library of New South Wales)

In 2007, on the seventy-fifth anniversary of the Great Ocean Road, a bronze statue was unveiled at Eastern View, near Torquay. The statue, titled ‘The Diggers’, depicts two pick-wielding mates, one handing the other a drink. In name and form, the statue memorialises both the World War I Anzacs the road was built to honour and the repatriated soldiers who began constructing it in 1919. But the statue tells only half the story. As the anniversary date indicates, the Great Ocean Road was completed in 1932, at the height of the Great Depression. It provided work not only for returned servicemen, but also for thousands of unemployed a decade later. Many probably worked under both circumstances.

Benjamin Huf reviews 'Australia’s Great Depression: How a nation shattered by the Great War survived the worst economic crisis it has ever faced' by Joan Beaumont

Australia’s Great Depression: How a nation shattered by the Great War survived the worst economic crisis it has ever faced

by Joan Beaumont

Allen & Unwin, $49.99 hb, 574 pp

Buy this book

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Comment (1)

  • Benjamin Huf’s comprehensive review of Joan Beaumont’s book ‘Australia’s Great Depression’ (ABR, May 2022) draws attention to an aspect of human resilience rarely if ever referred to in the psychiatric and psychological literature. Embedded in the fiscal details of Australia’s Depression-era politics is Huf’s telling reference to the book’s immersion in the Depression movement, highlighting the steely resolve of individuals and groups to be inventive and to transform their hardship via an array of local social and vocational networks. These became a safety net for the dispossessed, the unemployed, and the traumatised. Benjamin Huf’s review provides a significant extra dimension to the literature on human resilience when people are faced with trauma and loss.
    Posted by Roger Rees
    25 May 2022

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