Stockings, Craig, ed.: Dirty dozen

Stockings, Craig, ed.

Anzac’s Dirty Dozen: 12 Myths of Australian Military History, NewSouth, Sydney, 2012

Myth busting by military historians and other authors on a wide range of topics, including denials that our military history begins at Gallipoli, that our volunteer armies are necessarily superior, that we always fight ‘other people’s wars’ that are not necessarily in our national interest, and that we always ‘punch above our weight’. Peter Stanley asks whether war is the most important thing in our history and Michael McKinley questions the Australian-American alliance.

This collection [says the editor] is unified by a single intention: the need to acknowledge and confront the persistent and general misconceptions of our military past, and to understand what really happened. Our destruction of myths isn’t for its own sake, as an end in itself, but because good history demands it. Let us re-affirm before turning another page that at the heart of any mantra-like myth is an absence of critical cognition, even of rational inquiry. Myths thrive when there is little curiosity, no drive for insight and no intellectual reflection. Many of Australia’s military myths live on through belief rather than knowledge, on conformity rather than inquiry, and on sentiment rather than facts. These characteristics are the enemies of free rational thought and reason, the very goals towards which most teachers, academics and historians strive. Readers deserve better history, not to mention those who have risked their lives in the armed forces. (p. 9)

The author discusses the book and its companion volume, Zombie Myths of Australian Military History, here. Reader reviews are here. Another review is here.

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