Australian Book Review

Robin Gerster reviews 'On War and Writing' by Samuel Hynes

Robin Gerster
Wednesday, 26 September 2018

'Every man thinks meanly of himself for not having been a soldier.’ Samuel Johnson’s aphorism was commended to me many years ago by Peter Ryan, then the long-serving publisher at Melbourne University Press. The author of a superb personal account of his war experience ...

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General ‘Pompey’ Elliott was a famous Australian in 1918, half forgotten seventy years later, and is now a national military hero. This Anzac Day he stood high. On French soil he was praised by France’s prime minister, Édouard Philippe, in one of the most mesmerising and sensitive speeches ever offered by a European leader to Australian ears ...

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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 ...

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John Curtin may be our most extensively documented prime minister. He is the subject of many biographies (including one by the author of the volume reviewed here) and countless chapters and articles, and is necessarily a central figure in war histories of the 1940s. John Edwards ventures into a well-populated field ...

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In July 1942 the Police Battalion 101 was ordered to murder all the older men, women, and children in Józefów, in Poland. Major Wilhelm Trapp, a member of the Nazi Party, led the battalion. He made an unprecedented offer. If any older members of the battalion felt unable to proceed, they could be excused. Twelve men ...

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Few organisations defend their reputation more vigorously than the Australian Defence Force (ADF). Long since clasped to the national bosom, the ADF has no intention of being shoehorned out of its prized position at the heart of Australian identity and culture. The first duty of its public affairs personnel is to protect ...

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In 1915 a young Englishman was repatriated from the Western front to Craiglockhart psychiatric hospital in Scotland. Traumatised and disillusioned, he would write ...

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The Armenian Genocide, which claimed an estimated 1.5 million lives, began in 1915. It continues to cause controversy today and is a hotly contested event; ...

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Australians must start 'thinking like hawks, while moving like doves', James Brown asserts in his viscerally illustrated but poorly argued Firing Line: Australia's path to war ...

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When we talk about the importance of Australia's remembered wartime past, we mostly think of home-front experiences or Australians who went away ...

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