The War with Germany
Volume 3: The Centenary History of Australia and the Great War
By Robert Stevenson
Published by Oxford University Press www.oup.com.au
RRP $59.95 in hardback
We offer here a different history for a different era, writes Dr Jeffrey Grey, Professor of History, UNSW Canberra, who is the series editor of the five volumes.
This is the third book in the five volume series: the two still to be published are The War at Home (October 2015) and The Australian Imperial Force (April 2016). The earlier volumes were Australia and the War in the Air (Vol 1) and The War with the Ottoman Empire (Vol 2). – see this blog in April 2015.
This latest book examines the performance of the Australian Army in the two theatres where it confronted the German Army during the First World War: German New Guinea and the Western Front. Australia’s involvement from beginning to end was determined and shaped primarily by the threat Germany posed to the British Empire.
The author acknowledges the difficulty of writing about what really happened given that Australia’s Great War story ‘has been deformed by a myopic focus on experiences of the digger’ and an unshakeable belief that Australian soldiers were exceptional.
He concludes that Australia’s forces earned their reputation for battlefield virtuosity for characteristics that were neither innate nor unique. Instead they only gradually and painfully became a great fighting force for the very same reasons that other contingents earned a place among the foremost ranks of the British Empire’s best.
This series was launched last year – here is the YouTube video of the launch.