Stockings, Craig & John Connor, ed.: Before the Anzac dawn

Stockings, Craig & John Connor, ed.

Before the Anzac Dawn: A Military History of Australia before 1915, NewSouth, Sydney, 2013

This book provides a comprehensive and compelling account of Australian military history before any soldier set foot on Gallipoli. It shows that this pre-1915 history has largely been forgotten. Indeed the extent to which Australians thought about war and experienced war before ANZAC existed will surprise many readers. Starting with detailed accounts of both traditional indigenous warfare and frontier wars between white settlers and indigenous inhabitants, we learn of the setting up of colonial navies, the red coats who guarded the colonies, Australians fighting in wars against New Zealand Maori, cadet and rifle clubs as well as the overseas wars we joined up for in the Crimea and Sudan. (blurb)

There are chapters also on the fighting at Eureka – Michael McKernan’s review in the Canberra Times praises Greg Blake’s chapter – and the Australian capture of Rabaul in 1914. From the first page of the introduction, describing the falsification of official paintings of the Gallipoli landing to make the troops look more Australian and less British, the book provides useful correctives. The authors include the editors and a number of military historians from Australia and overseas.

A related article by Greg Lockhart describes military preparations of 1911-14. This links to a longer article in Griffith Review.

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