Stephens, David: Do spiffing war yarns persist?

Stephens, David

Empire sun has set but do spiffing war yarns persist?Honest History, 2 December 2014

This analytical piece compares WH Fitchett’s 1897 Deeds that Won the Empire: Historic Battle Scenes with Audacity: Stories of Heroic Australians in Wartime, Carlie Walker’s 2014 publication for the Australian War Memorial and the Department of Veterans’ Affairs. The article finds that there are similarities between the two books in their lists of desirable qualities but important differences in how wartime exploits are portrayed and in the objectives the exploits are seen to serve.

Deeds and Audacity are both dishonest in their different ways. The qualities extolled are the same but the methods differ. Audacity sanitises where Deeds glamourises. Audacity pulls punches on war to focus on individual acts of daring; Deeds lauds the warrior’s death.

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