Professor Stuart Macintyre of the University of Melbourne has been awarded the inaugural Ernest Scott Prize for his book Australia’s Boldest Experiment: War and Reconstruction in the 1940s. A review note of the book is here and there is also a note about the associated publication (Professor Macintyre with Graeme Powell) Land of Opportunity: Australia’s Post-War Reconstruction, which looks at relevant holdings at the National Archives of Australia.
Books like this which weave a story from many threads are always welcome to an outfit like Honest History whose mantra is ‘not only Anzac but also lots of other strands of Australian history’. We took particular note of this paragraph for the way it shows how our war history – both big wars – needs to be kept in proportion.
More recently, the Pacific War has been recast as an epic struggle against an imminent threat of invasion, and the engagements in Papua New Guinea and its surrounds have been gathered into a “Battle for Australia” that has been commemorated since 2008 on the first Wednesday in September. This freshly minted event is part of an upsurge in war remembrance served by new monuments, augmented anniversaries and contrived discoveries … Such war history has assumed mythical status. Just as the story of Gallipoli drew on Homer’s epic story of the siege of Troy, so that of Kokoda has taken on the legendary proportions of the battle of Thermopylae, where a band of Spartan warriors sacrificed their lives to prevent conquest by a vast imperial army.
Stuart Macintyre is one of Honest History’s distinguished supporters. We congratulate him on this award.
28 April 2016