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Australian War Memorial

This week’s ABR Podcast features Anne Rutherford’s review of the new SBS miniseries The Australian Wars, published in the November issue of ABR. Directed by Arrernte and Kalkadoon woman Rachel Perkins, the series is an attempt to recast Australian frontier conflict by posing new questions. Echoing Perkins, Rutherford asks: ‘Why is the extreme violence of the frontier not recognised as war?’ and ‘Why is the death of an estimated 100,000 people on the frontier, both black and white, not acknowledged and memorialised?’ Listen to the ABR Podcast here.

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Charles Bean is now seen as one of the classiest journalists and historians Australia has produced. Like many talented historians, he had no prior training in his craft, except as a war correspondent during World War I, when he wrote in the face of daily and nightly dangers such as most war journalists no longer have to confront.

I have the strong impression ...

Australian Peacekeeping: Sixty years in the field edited by David Horner, Peter Loney and Jean Bou

July-August 2009, no. 313

The recent, sometimes heated, debate among policy experts and commentators about Australia’s Defence White Paper has helped give focus to a curious paradox: that for the last two decades or so, since the release of the Defence of Australia White Paper in 1987, there has been a profound disconnection between defence planning and procurement and the actual operations conducted by the Australian Defence Force (ADF). With its focus on major new spending commitments on submarines, frigates and the Joint Strike Fighter in the midst of ongoing operations in Afghanistan, Timor-Leste and the Solomon Islands – which require none of these big-ticket items but which have, at times, stretched the ADF’s deployable capacity – the present White Paper risks falling into the same trap.

This excellent new volume, a product of the Australian War Memorial’s major research project on the history of Australian peacekeeping, provides a stirring corrective to this enduring paradox. Peacekeeping, its editors argue and contributors demonstrate, is a distinctive military activity that requires special skills, resources and equipment. It is always complex, and sometimes highly dangerous.

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