Fathi, Romain: Our Corner of the Somme: Australia at Villers-Bretonneux

Romain Fathi

Our Corner of the Somme: Australia at Villers-Bretonneux, Cambridge University Press, Melbourne, 2019

One of the Australian Army History Series, edited by Professor Peter Stanley of UNSW Canberra.

By the time of the Armistice, Villers-Bretonneux – once a lively and flourishing French town – had been largely destroyed, and half its population had fled or died. From March to August 1918, Villers-Bretonneux formed part of an active front line, at which Australian troops were heavily involved. As a result, it holds a significant place in Australian history. Villers-Bretonneux has since become an open-air memorial to Australia’s participation in the First World War. Successive Australian governments have valourised the Australian engagement, contributing to an evolving Anzac narrative that has become entrenched in Australia’s national identity. Our Corner of the Somme provides an eye-opening analysis of the memorialisation of Australia’s role on the Western Front and the Anzac mythology that so heavily contributes to Australians’ understanding of themselves. In this rigorous and richly detailed study, Romain Fathi challenges accepted historiography by examining the assembly, projection and performance of Australia’s national identity in northern France. (blurb)

The book is reviewed for Honest History by David Stephens. Romain Fathi wrote for Honest History about the Sir John Monash Centre at Villers-Bretonneux. Other work by him can be found in our author listing. Honest History’s analysis of the Monash Centre can be found via our Search engine using the terms ‘Monash’, ‘Villers-Bretonneux’, ‘boondoggle’ or ‘immersive’. The author talks on YouTube about the book. Reaction in Adelaide Advertiser. Reaction in Daily Mail and from Minister. The author summarises his argument in The Conversation. The author writes in French about the same subject.

There are a number of launches of Dr Fathi’s book coming up: Adelaide 5 April; Melbourne 12 April; Brisbane 18 April; Canberra 24 April.

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