e-Newsletter no. 25, 12 May 2015

ISSN: 2202-5561 ©

New on the site

  • Asking difficult questions: two major Anzac speeches from Douglas Newton (author of Hell-Bent: Australia’s Leap into the Great War)
  • VDs as well as VCs: Diane Bell reviews Raden Dunbar’s probing book The Secrets of the Anzacs
  • Are we getting any more equal as we get yet another report on inequality?
  • Gamut of emotions: Michael Piggott tours the National Museum’s home front
  • Attrition: Derek Abbott reviews William Philpott’s single volume history of the Great War
  • David Reid on not remembering our most important war, the one on home soil
  • David Faber tours the horizon in Australia and Europe in 1914 and 1915
  • Willy Bach breaks into Laurence Binyon’s reverie about remembrance
  • Mary Gilmore: four very different poems from two wars
  • Humphrey McQueen piece from 1976 on Spanish flu pandemic of 1919
  • Les Jauncey writes to Doc Evatt about the US election 1952
  • Honest History now on Facebook – and still needs donations

Centenary Watch

An emotional look at the construction industry in northern France 2015-18


Lump at the top. ‘The richest one-half of 1 percent of Americans, each with over $7.2 million of assets, own 28 percent of the nation’s total wealth.’ (Robert B. Reich, Beyond Outrage, 2012)

Lump Downunder. ‘The richest seven individuals in Australia hold more wealth than 1.73 million households in the bottom 20 per cent … Senior executive pay is now 150 times greater than average weekly earnings.’ (Australia Institute policy brief 2014)

Lumps natural. ‘Millionaires are a product of natural selection, acting on the whole body of men to pick out those who can meet the requirement of certain work to be done … It is because they are thus selected that wealth – both their own and that entrusted to them – aggregates under their hands … They may fairly be regarded as the naturally selected agents of society.’ (William Graham Sumner, American philosopher, c. 1907)

Take your lumps. ‘They lie the men who tell us for reasons of their own/That want is here a stranger, and that misery’s unknown …/ I wonder would the apathy of wealthy men endure/Were all their windows level with the faces of the Poor.’ (Henry Lawson, ‘Faces in the street’, 1888)

Whew! ‘The wealthy classes have nothing to fear from manhood suffrage. It will prevent them from abusing their power, but there is no danger of its encroaching upon their rights. (Melbourne Argus, 6 January 1857, quoted in Ebbels, The Australian Labor Movement 1850-1907, 1960)

Order obscures. ‘The degree of disorder in civil disobedience should not be weighed against a false “peace” presumed to exist in the status quo, but against the real disorder and violence that are part of daily life, overtly expressed internationally in wars, but hidden locally under that facade of “order” which obscures the injustice of contemporary society.’ (Howard Zinn, Disobedience and Democracy, 1968)

Ordered liberty. ‘The only liberty that is valuable is a liberty connected with order; that not only exists along with order and virtue, but which cannot exist at all without them. It inheres in good and steady government, as in its substance and vital principle.’ (Edmund Burke, Speech to the Electors of Bristol, 1774)

War buzz. ‘It’s been said that sometimes we are more afraid of a boring peace than of an exciting great war. In peace time we rarely seem to achieve the unity, the cheerful sacrifice and the determination that we summon up in wartime.’ (Andrew Greig, Taming War, 2007)

Pas vive la Turquie, mais vive la France. ‘Australians should congregate here [at Villers-Bretonneux], every April 25th, no less than at Anzac Cove. Shortly, Dr Patrick Simon, Mayor of Villers-Bretonneux, will be invested as an Officer in the Order of Australia. The Order of Australia is our country’s civilian order of merit that Dr Simon has abundantly earned, by ensuring that the memory of Australia’s glorious dead is never forgotten in the country they helped to protect.’ (PM Tony Abbott, 26 April 2015, Villers-Bretonneux)

Neat solution. ‘J.M. Barrie, the creator of Peter Pan, said, “I can’t sleep”, and then died, which fixed the problem. That’s the thing about death. People dread it happening to them but seldom complain afterwards. There are other ways of dealing with insomnia but none as complete.’ (Michael McGirr, The Lost Art of Sleep, 2009)

What’s on

A selection of exhibitions in seven cities.