Bendle, Mervyn F.: Gallipoli: second front in the History Wars

Mervyn F. Bendle

Gallipoli: second front in the History Wars‘, Quadrant Online, LIII, 6, June 2009

Lengthy article with many citations taking to task historians like Joan Beaumont, Marilyn Lake, Mark McKenna, Robin Prior and Peter Stanley and commentators such as Robert Manne for their critical analysis of the role of the Anzac legend in Australia. The author notes the popularity of military history works by non-academic writers and implies academic historians resent this success.

Indeed, the assault on the Anzac legend is well under way and this will further intensify as the Australian intelligentsia struggles to come to grips with a powerful cultural force over which it presently has much less control than it would like, and for which it has very little sympathy, empathy or understanding.

Floundering, and looking for an explanation that doesn’t require it to examine its own basic assumptions, the Left has concluded that the principal reason for the resurgence of the Anzac spirit is the alleged militarism and nationalism of the Howard government.

He discusses at length arguments about whether the Japanese were going to invade Australia in 1942 and concludes that

the Anzac legend is far too precious to be left to the mercy of these ideologues. The centennial of the outbreak of the Great War approaches: it may soon be time for those who value the sacrifices of their forebears, the national identity of their country, and all that its people have achieved, to follow the Anzac spirit in the battle of ideas, and go over the top.

Later similar material by the same author is here (response to What’s Wrong with Anzac?), here (including discussion of the immediate post World War I attitude to Anzac) here and here (critical of Honest History and Anzac’s Long Shadow). Also here.

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