Fear Drive My Feet: a classic of WWII Australian literature


Fear Drive My Feet
By Peter Ryan
Published by Text Classics
RRP $12.95 in paperback
ISBN 9781925240054

This book was republished in 2015, not long before author Peter Ryan passed away at the age of 92. He was for many years a columnist for Quadrant magazine – you can read his obituary here.

Fear Drive My Feet is his account of his time patrolling isolated regions of New Guinea during World War II, a story he wrote on his return to Australia. As he writes in his introduction:

‘It struck me that very few soldiers of eighteen would have been sent out alone and untrained to operate for months as best they could behind Japanese lines; that few indeed would have passed their nineteenth and twentieth birthdays engaged in such a pursuit.’

This book was first published in 1959, after the manuscript came to the attention of Ida Leeson (Mitchell Librarian 1932-1946) who pitched it to Angus & Robertson (that great name long gone from the ranks of Australian publishers).

When it was first published, Fear Drive My Feet was hailed as a classic war story, written while the memory was still fresh. It was clearly a suitable candidate for Text Publishing’s excellent initiative in reviving out of print books.

It is really worth looking at the page of Text Classics – a wonderful project by this small Australian publisher to bring back to life out-of-print Australian classics. I think Text management is to be applauded for this decision. The cover designs are outstanding, says my wife, who has an eye for these things.


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