The Western Front Diaries of Charles Bean
Edited by Peter Burness
Published by New South/Australian War Memorial
RRP $79.99 in hardback
The first thing to say about this book is that it’s magnificent. And heavy. It weighs in at nearly three kilograms.
Australia’s official First World War correspondent, Charles Bean, needs no introduction.
But he is better known for his monumental multi-volume official history of World War I. This is the first time his Western Front diaries, which are held by the Australian War Memorial, have been published.
Esteemed historian Peter Burness has assembled a remarkable collection of over 500 photographs, sketches and maps to illustrate the diary entries.
Bean saw more of the Australian Imperial Force’s actions and battles on the Western Front than anyone.
What we have now, in this outstanding publication, is the unique and personal record of Bean’s experiences and observations throughout the war. Bean, of course, narrowly defeated the young Keith Murdoch to be selected as the journalist to become an embedded correspondent, with the honorary rank of captain.
For Bean, this ultimately meant a lifetime of dedicated work and searing memories. As Burness writes, his name would become forever linked with Australia’s experience of conflict.