Uncommon Soldier: The Story of the Making of Today’s Diggers, Allen & Unwin, Crows Nest, NSW, 2012
‘Moving away from our ongoing fascination with Anzac story, he looks at the rich and illuminating present to write a character study of the modern Australian soldier – war fighter, peacekeeper, street-level diplomat, and aid worker.’ (blurb) Masters’s focus is particularly on Australians in Afghanistan.
Implicit in the approach Masters takes to his subject is that a distinction needs to be made between the decisions made by politicians in relation to the deployment of Australian troops and the conduct of the soldiers themselves. ”I am by and large an unapologetic admirer of the Australian soldier, mostly seeing soldiering as something the country gets right,” he declares.
But he does express certain reservations about the enduring value of the Gallipoli myth of blood sacrifice, a scepticism he says is shared by the army leadership. The modern professional Australian Army has moved far beyond providing colonial cannon fodder. (review by Simon Caterson)