John Curtin’s War Vol II
Triumph and Decline
By John Edwards
Published by Viking/Penguin
RRP $49.99 in hardback • ISBN 978143791362
The first volume of John Curtin’s War was widely recognised as a landmark in Australian political biography. That book ended with the fall of Singapore.
This second volume, ‘Triumph and Decline’ tells the story of the next four years as Curtin leads Australia in meeting the gravest challenge facing the young nation – the threat of an imminent Japanese invasion.
These were unique circumstances for an Australian leader and particularly for a political leader for whom domestic politics had been his bread and butter. In this well-researched and highly detailed analysis of Curtin’s final years, we see a leader thrust reluctantly into the role of wartime leader who, in the end, emerged as a great Australian prime minister.
Frequently left out of the loop by Australia’s allies, Curtin nevertheless managed to negotiate the minefield of international politics and the conflicting ambitions of the major powers to ensure Australia’s survival. Despite their disagreements, he was able to maintain a productive working relationship with the bombastic US General Douglas MacArthur.
Sadly, he died just months short of the end of the war but at a time when victory was assured.