Australian Book Review

For more than a year and a half the armed conflict in Ukraine has touched many in Australia. On 17 July 2014, Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 crashed in the war zone after being hit by a surface-to-air missile. There was a short burst of jubilation by pro-Russian rebels on social media, before it became clear that this was not a military machine but a civilian airliner. ...

In this meticulously researched and eminently readable history, Jeannine Baker presents a gallery of impressive women who reported war news despite the obstacles put in their way by military authorities and press traditions alike. Along the way she deftly fills in key information about the conflicts involved, from the Boer War to Vietnam – a disturbing reminder of ...

Geoffrey Blainey reviews 'Bearing Witness' by Peter Rees

Geoffrey Blainey
Thursday, 28 May 2015

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 ...

David Horner reviews 'Australia and the Vietnam War'

David Horner
Wednesday, 28 May 2014

In 1966 as a young first-year cadet at the Royal Military College, I purchased Anzac to Amiens by C.E.W. Bean, which had been published twenty years earlier. Bean had been Australia’s Official Historian for World War I, and Anzac to Amiens was his masterly condensation of the twelve-volume official history of which he had been the general editor and ...

Andrew Alexandra reviews 'In Defence of War' by Nigel Biggar

Andrew Alexandra
Tuesday, 27 May 2014

This book by Nigel Biggar, Anglican minister and Oxford Professor of Theology, is in the rich and broad tradition of thinking about war known as Just War Theory (JWT). JWT sees war as justifiable, but holds that decisions about going to war, as well as about the way it is fought, are subject to moral constraints ...

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Alison Broinowski: Malcolm Fraser on Foreign Policy

Alison Broinowski
Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Coinciding with the World War I anniversaries, Malcolm Fraser’s book will polarise Australian opinion on a fundamental issue. It has never been raised in this way, for Australian leaders have not discussed decisions to go to war in public, nor sought popular approval of Australia’s alliances. Yet successive generations of young Australians have fought in British ...

Sheila Fitzpatrick on history vs memoir

Sheila Fitzpatrick
Tuesday, 27 May 2014

In Iris Murdoch’s novel, The Sandcastle (1957), a young artist called Rain Carter is commissioned to paint a retired schoolmaster, Demoyte, an eccentric with an offbeat sense of humour. Instead of his usual attire – a shabby red velvet jacket with tobacco stains and bow tie – Demoyte turns up ...

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Trivialising the Anzacs

Joan Beaumont
Monday, 28 April 2014

In a year sure to be glutted with military commemorations, leading historian Joan Beaumont highlights the commodification and triviliasation of the Anzac legend.

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Geoff Page reviews 'From the Trenches'

Geoff Page
Friday, 28 March 2014

Mark Dapin’s anthology, From the Trenches, is a timely but not opportunistic book. At more than 400 pages, it is long enough to suggest the sheer scale of the war and its centrality to European (if not world) history ever since. It samples all the relevant genres (letters, memoir, journalism, fiction, poetry) and offers a multiplicity of viewpoints (senior ranks, subalterns, NCOs, priv ...

2014 Calibre Prize (Winner): Unearthing the Past

Christine Piper
Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Christine Piper is the winner of the 2014 Calibre Prize for an Outstanding Essay, worth $5,000. In this powerful essay, she writes about Japanese biological weapons and wartime experiments on living human beings.

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