The Big Book of
Australia’s War Stories
A collection of stories of Australia’s iconic battles,
heroes and campaigns from the Boer War to Vietnam
Allen & Unwin 2019
Softback 600pp RRP $32.99
Reviewer: Neville Taylor, December 2019
Presented in five Parts: Fighting the Boers, ~ Kaiser, ~ Führer, ~ Emperor, and ~ Communists, the selected accounts and recollections that have contributed to the reputation of Australia’s service men and women over 100 years make for easy and enjoyable reading.
These are stories (and poems), not military histories that come with battle maps. They provide the reader with a brief coverage of salient points that may well whet the appetite to pursue an aspect in greater detail in a work devoted to a particular campaign or action. First-hand accounts are accompanied by verses that reveals the innate talent possessed by many who had little formal education or prior writing experience. [A. B. ‘Banjo’ Paterson excluded!]
Each Part is prefaced with an uncomplicated map that covers the stories that follow. Not all the well-known combatants or famous sites been included, and a commendable effort has been made to bring others to the readers’ attention. It is not essential that this work has to be read from ‘cover to cover’ (though it does place stories in context). Although the conflicts covered ends with the Viet Nam War, the Afterword lists our 100th VC winner (Corporal Cameron Baird). The Contents is comprehensive and lists the author of each item – reducing the need for a Bibliography and Index. An insert of high quality black and white photographs from the Boer War to Baird’s statue in Currumbin has been included.
A good read for anyone seeking an overview of 100 years of Australia’s military involvement.
The RUSI – Vic Library thanks the publisher for making this work available for review.