Military History

Robin Prior reviews 'The Second World War'

Robin Prior
22 October 2012

Too often histories of World War II either have ‘total’ in their title or make great play with total war as a concept. Essentially this is meaningless, because all that is meant by total war is big war. Antony Beevor mercifully does not call World War II ‘total’ or make any reference to total war.

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Craig Wilcox reviews 'Boredom is the Enemy '

Craig Wilcox
25 September 2012

W hat book would you want to read in hell, or in one of humanity’s remarkably competent imitations of it? Tristram Shandy seemed about right to one young Yorkshireman who reached the Western Front in 1915. A year later he found an anthology for soldiers edited by Robert Bridges, the poet laureate, but it seemed so lofty in purpose, so earnest in its moral ... More

Peter Rodgers reviews 'The Battle for the Arab Spring' and 'Libya'

Peter Rodgers
30 August 2012

The danger in writing about unfolding dramas is that they keep unfolding, potentially stranding both writer and reader. Not so with these two fine books, whose authors have long experience of the Middle East. Quite different in scope – a sweep of the Arab world contrasting with the ascent and decay of Muammar Gaddafi’s brutal régime – they deal with past, pre ... More

Ashley Ekins: Fighting to the Finish

Greg Lockhart
28 August 2012

Vietnam War confounds official history

Greg Lockhart


Fighting to the Finish: The Australian Army and the Vietnam War 1968–1975
by Ashley Ekins, with Ian McNeill
Allen & Unwin, $100 hb, 1139 pp, 9781865088242

 

Fighting t ... More

Robin Prior reviews 'Anzac’s Dirty Dozen'

Robin Prior
23 April 2012

This book is the second in a series compiled by a group of Canberra academics on the distortions they perceive to surround the writing of military history in this country. Before the book itself is tackled, a word should be said about the titles they have chosen for their two volumes. The first (published in 2010) is called Zombie Myths of Australian Military Hi ... More

Craig Wilcox reviews 'Desert Boys'

Craig Wilcox
21 March 2012

Where would Australian publishers and bookshops be without popular military history? Door-stoppers with their green-and-brown dust jackets that shout ‘epic’ and ‘Anzac’, ‘hell’ and ‘tragedy’, might be less lucrative than cooking, diet, and self-help books, but they are up there with cricket memoirs and true crime. Where would we book-buyers be withou ... More

Stuart Macintyre reviews 'Australia and Appeasement'

Stuart Macintyre
22 February 2012

For long after World War II, particular opprobrium was reserved for the statesmen who failed to resist the belligerent dictators. Their failure was denounced in the popular tract Guilty Men, which appeared in 1940 soon after Hitler overran Western Europe, leaving Britain to fight on alone. These guilty men included the prime minister, Neville Chamberlain, w ... More

Robin Prior reviews 'All Hell Let Loose'

Robin Prior
23 January 2012

It is a brave undertaking to write a single-volume history of World War II. As Max Hastings notes, we already have many good books in this category: Weinberg, A World At Arms: A Global History of World War II (1994); Calvocoressi, Wint, and Pritchard, Total War: The Causes and Courses of the Second World War (1989); Millett and Murray, A War To ... More

David Day on 'The Penguin Book of Australian War Writing'

David Day
20 January 2012

War is one of the great paradoxes of Australia. Why should a people occupying a continent so far from the world’s trouble spots have spent so much of their history dying in often distant wars? It is one of the questions that drew me to the study of Australian history. I am little the wiser after reading this collection of Australian war writing. This is partly bec ... More

Peter Pierce: 'P.O.W.: Australian Prisoners of War in Hitler’s Reich'

Peter Pierce
29 June 2011

Of the fate of Australian prisoners of war in the hands of the Japanese during World War II, the literature – memoir, fiction, history – is voluminous. There were 21,652 of them, of whom thirty-five per cent, or 7780, perished. A good deal has also been written of enemy prisoners – Japanese, German, Italian – who were held in camps in this country, and in pa ... More

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