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Steve Sailah’s Gallipoli novel reviewed by Paul Daley

Guardian Australia columnist, Paul Daley, reviews A Fatal Tide, a novel about Gallipoli, written by senior journalist, Steve Sailah. The review segues into thoughts about how we commemorate and about some double standards.

Too many Australians forget [says Daley] that their antecedents were part of an invading force in Turkey. How ironic it is, then, that Australia pays such credit to the defending Turks “our boys” fought against, at our national secular shrine, the war memorial, yet offers no official deference at all to the Indigenous people who sought to defend their continent from invasion from “Australia Day” 1788.

Daley also makes some points about the forthcoming centenary years.

I am deeply cynical about the plethora of books on Australia’s involvement in the first world war, Gallipoli in particular, that are flooding our bookstores as Australia marks what it parochially calls the Anzac 100 centenary.

The centenary ought to be, for those inclined, a time of sombre reflection upon the evils – and in the case of the ill-named “great war”, utter pointlessness – of armed conflict. Yet for too many Australian authors the centenary will present as little more than a marketing opportunity – a chance to ride a tide of mythology and legend from which little, if anything, can be learnt about the truth of what war does to humanity.

6 November 2014