Scates, Bruce, Rebecca Wheatley & Laura James: 100 Stories

Scates, Bruce, Rebecca Wheatley & Laura James

World War One: A History in 100 Stories, Penguin, Melbourne, 2015

A long-awaited product of a complex project to tell the stories of many people affected by the Great War. There is also a website which includes at present (November 2015) versions of 50 of the stories, with more to come. There is also an online course and a link to the video of the launch of the book on Remembrance Day 2015.

There has been no shortage of heroic stories over the course of the Anzac Centenary: stories of courage and sacrifice, fortitude and endurance, mateship and resolve.  But a hundred years on, there is a need for other stories as well – the stories too often marginalised in favour of nation-building narratives.

World War One: a history in 100 stories remembers not just the men and women who lost their lives during the battles of WWI, but those who returned home as well: the gassed, the crippled, the insane – all those irreparably damaged by war.

Drawn from a unique collection of sources, including repatriation files, these heartbreaking and deeply personal stories reveal a broken and suffering generation – gentle men driven to violence, mothers sent insane with grief, the hopelessness of rehabilitation and the quiet, pervasive sadness of loss. They also retrieve a fragile kind of courage from the pain and devastation of a conflict that changed the world.

This is an unflinching and remarkable social history. It is an act of remembering in the face of forgetting. Telling the truth about war requires its own kind of courage. (blurb)

The book is reviewed for Honest History by David Stephens and by Jim Windeyer.

H02034Australian munitions workers arriving in England for war work, November 1916; relates to one of the stories in the book (Thomas Manns) (AWM H02034)

30 November 2015

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