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A Stout Pair Of Boots

A Stout Pair Of Boots

Australians are becoming increasingly fascinated by their military history, and every year greater numbers visit the scenes of the battles commemorated each Anzac Day – Villers-Bretonneux, Long Tan, Kokoda, Gallipoli itself. But what can you learn from visiting a battlefield? And how do you make sure you get the most out of the experience?

Peter Stanley, one of Australia’s most experienced military historians, a veteran of battlefield research in Borneo and Egypt, Turkey and France, gives wide-ranging and practical hints and tips, including what to take, whether to go alone or in a group, how to stay safe, who to contact before you go, and how to avoid getting sick while you’re there.

Drawing on his own extensive experience, and that of many of his friends and colleagues, Peter will inspire you to get out of the armchair and walk the ground where Australia’s military history was made.
Ambon

Ambon

a compelling account of one of World War II’s most brutal prisoner of war camps’
DAILY TELEGRAPH

In February 1942 the Indonesian island of Ambon fell to the might of the advancing Japanese war machine. Among the captured Allied forces was a unit of 1150 Australian soldiers known as Gull Force, who had been sent to defend the island – a strategy doomed from the very beginning.

Several hundred Australians were massacred in cold blood soon after the Japanese invasion. But that was only the start of a catalogue of horrors for the men who survived: incarcerated, beaten and often tortured by their captors, the brutality they endured lasted for the next three and a half years. And in this hellhole of despair and evil, officers and men turned against each other as discipline and morale broke down.

Yet the epic struggle also produced heroic acts of kindness and bravery. Just over 300 of these gallant men lived to tell of those grim days behind the barbed wire. In AMBON, survivors speak of not just the horrors, but of the courage, endurance and mateship that helped them survive.

The story of AMBON is one of depravity and of memories long buried – but also the triumph of the human spirit. Now part of the HACHETTE MILITARY COLLECTION.
An Awkward Truth

An Awkward Truth

Darwin was a battle Australia would rather forget. Yet the Japanese attack on 19 February 1942 was the first wartime assault on Australian soil. The Japanese struck with the same carrier-borne force that devastated Pearl Harbor only ten weeks earlier. There was a difference. More bombs fell on Darwin, more civilians were killed, and more ships were sunk.

The raid led to the worst death toll from any event in Australia. The attackers bombed and strafed three hospitals, flattened shops, offices and the police barracks, shattered the Post Office and communications centre, wrecked Government House, and left the harbour and airfields burning and ruined. The people of Darwin abandoned their town, leaving it to looters, a few anti-aircraft batteries and a handful of dogged defenders with single-shot .303 rifles.

Yet the story has remained in the shadows. Drawing on long-hidden documents and first-person accounts, Peter Grose tells what really happened and takes us into the lives of the people who were there. There was much to be proud of in Darwin that day: courage, mateship, determination and improvisation. But the dark side of the story involves looting, desertion and a calamitous failure of leadership. Australians ran away because they did not know what else to do.

Absorbing, spirited and fast-paced, An Awkward Truth is a compelling and revealing story of the day war really came to Australia, and the motley bunch of soldiers and civilians who were left to defend the nation.
Bean's Gallipoli

Bean's Gallipoli

‘The insights are truthful, harrowing and shocking, for this Gallipoli is not the drama seen through the military censorship of journalistic despatches, but the views of a thoughtful man communicating with himself.’ – The Bulletin

Probably no person saw more of the Anzacs in battle on Gallipoli than C.E.W. Bean. After sailing with the first convoy, he landed with them on that fateful first morning of 25 April, and remained on Gallipoli until the evacuation despite being wounded.

He was unique among the war correspondents of his day: no place in the line was too dangerous for him. No other pressman dared to go ashore at the first landings. Throughout the fiercest battles, he would sit in the dust or mud of the frontline trench taking notes or making sketches.

Night after night he sat in his tiny dugout and wrote in his diary all that he had seen and done. Its pages flow with powerful descriptions of battle, touching eulogies to the common soldier, and scathing criticisms of senior officers whose mistakes cost men their lives. He took over 1100 remarkable photographs-with the diary they constitute the most graphic personal account we have of the events of Gallipoli.

Bean’s Gallipoli reveals the innermost thoughts, hopes and criticisms of the man who, more than any other, shaped the Anzac legend.

This is a new edition of Frontline Gallipoli. It contains new extracts from Bean’s diaries, new commentary by Kevin Fewster, and over 80 photographs, most of which were taken by Bean at Gallipoli.
Breaker Morant

Breaker Morant

The epic story of the Boer War and Harry ‘Breaker’ Morant: drover, horseman, bush poet – murderer or hero?

Most people have heard of the Boer War and of Harry ‘Breaker’ Morant, a figure who rivals Ned Kelly as an archetypal Australian folk hero. But Morant was a complicated man. Born in England and immigrating to Queensland in 1883, he established a reputation as a rider, polo player and poet who submitted ballads to The Bulletin and counted Banjo Paterson as a friend. Travelling on his wits and the goodwill of others, Morant was quick to act when appeals were made for horsemen to serve in the war in South Africa. He joined up, first with the South Australian Mounted Rifles and then with a South African irregular unit, the Bushveldt Carbineers.

The adventure would not go as Breaker planned. In October 1901 Lieutenant Harry Morant and two other Australians, Lieutenants Peter Handcock and George Witton, were arrested for the murder of Boer prisoners. Morant and Handcock were court-martialled and executed in February 1902 as the Boer War was in its closing stages, but the debate over their convictions continues to this day.

With his masterful command of story, Peter FitzSimons takes us to the harsh landscape of southern Africa and into the bloody action of war against an unpredictable force using modern commando tactics. The truths FitzSimons uncovers about ‘the Breaker’ and the part he played in the Boer War are astonishing – and finally we will know if the Breaker was a hero, a cad, a scapegoat or a criminal.
Burke and Wills

Burke and Wills

‘They have left here today!’ he calls to the others. When King puts his hand down above the ashes of the fire, it is to find it still hot. There is even a tiny flame flickering from the end of one log. They must have left just hours ago.’

MELBOURNE, 20 AUGUST 1860. In an ambitious quest to be the first Europeans to cross the harsh Australian continent, the Victorian Exploring Expedition sets off, farewelled by 15,000 cheering well-wishers. Led by Robert O’Hara Burke, a brave man totally lacking in the bush skills necessary for his task; surveyor and meteorologist William Wills; and 17 others, the expedition took 20 tons of equipment carried on six wagons, 23 horses and 26
camels.

Almost immediately plagued by disputes and sackings, the expeditioners battled the extremes of the Australian landscape and weather: its deserts, the boggy mangrove swamps of the Gulf, the searing heat and flooding rains. Food ran short and, unable to live off the land, the men nevertheless mostly spurned the offers of help from the local Indigenous people.

In desperation, leaving the rest of the party at the expedition’s depot on Coopers Creek, Burke, Wills and John King made a dash for the Gulf in December 1860. Bad luck and bad management would see them miss by just hours a rendezvous back at Coopers Creek, leaving them stranded in the wilderness with practically no supplies. Only King survived to tell the tale.

Yet, despite their tragic fates, the names of Burke and Wills have become synonymous with perseverance and bravery in the face of overwhelming odds. They live on in Australia’s history – and their story remains immediate and compelling.
Castaway

Castaway

‘Macklin recounts, with beautiful detail, the following years of Narcisse’s life and his transformation . . . a great read for anyone interested in Australia and its overlooked history’
Ronan Breathnach, Irish Examiner

‘A truly remarkable account drawing upon a version Pelletier gave when he eventually returned to his native France and also on anthropological studies of the Daintree people.’
Piers Akerman, Daily Telegraph, Sydney

‘An unforgettable tale of transformation and upheaval.’
Stuart McLean, Daily Telegraph, Sydney


A young boy abandoned in an alien landscape thousands of miles from home is adopted by local people and becomes one of them, welcomed into their community, marrying a wife and raising a child. After seventeen years, he is stolen back to his ‘real’ life, where he has another family, but dreams constantly of what he has left behind.

This is the remarkable true story of a French cabin boy Narcisse Pelletier who, after disembarking from his ship the Saint-Paul with the rest of its crew in search of drinking water, found himself separated from his shipmates and in the end abandoned on the north coast of Queensland, Australia. Narcisse was adopted by an Aboriginal group who welcomed him as one of their own for seventeen years, during which time he had a family of his own.

In 1875, though, he was kidnapped by the brig John Bell and was returned eventually to his family in Saint-Gilles, France, where he became a lighthouse keeper. Robert Macklin makes skilful use of Narcisse’s own memoir Chez les sauvages along with new research to tell this extraordinary story.

Robert is a Queenslander so knows the terrain and the people of the area in which Narcisse was left behind. Through Noel Pearson’s Cape York Institute, he has arranged to meet descendants of the people who took the French cabin boy in and who know the stories of his time in Australia. Robert has also had access to a great deal of material on the early history of the Cape through the Australian National Library. He has drawn on the significant resources of the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS) in Canberra on Aboriginal culture and history in Queensland and the Cape. In addition, he has made use of Narcisse Pelletier’s own writings, including his account of his time in Australia, as well as several contemporaneous accounts of the Kennedy expedition to the area, including one from a member of the party. The author has made several trips to Cape York and one to Saint-Gilles and Saint-Nazaire in France.
Colony

Colony

The Colony is a unique portrait of Sydney from pre-contact Aboriginal times to the end of convict transports in 1840. From the coast across the Cumberland Plain to the rivers at the foot of the Blue Mountains, Grace Karskens presents a groundbreaking reinterpretation of the early history of Sydney. It is a richly textured approach that draws on social history, traditional political history, environmental concerns, Aboriginal history and archaeology.

The growth of Sydney sees the pragmatic and political struggle for urban space, the first suburbs sprout up and rural townships attract new settlers as agrarian visions of islands in the bush linked by rivers are realised. Contrary to popular belief, Aboriginal men and women did not disappear but instead stayed on, making a place for themselves. The myth of the ‘foundational orgy’ is debunked and instead the role of women is shown to be more varied and complex. Karskens shows the impact of the environment on all things from the treatment of convicts to the rising respectability of the new colony, to Governor Lachlan Macquarie and his wife Elizabeth’s profound re-shaping of Sydney’s physical landscape and society.

With sometimes startling new information about familiar figures, and accounts of the founding of some of Sydney’s outlying suburbs, The Colony offers a fresh and compelling story of the origins of Australia’s oldest city.
Jack Davenport

Jack Davenport

‘We all need heroes to look up to and to emulate.’ – Sir Arvi Parbo AC

Blending sound research with enlightening anecdotes, Jack Davenport, Beaufighter Leader charts Jack’s development from his Depression childhood, to the green pilot who had difficulties locating the target on his first Bomber Command operations, through to the superb pilot who led successful strikes against German shipping and the cool and resourceful planner of Coastal Command operations in the latter months of the war.

Jack Davenport, Beaufighter Leader recounts the life of an Australian hero. Jack saved the lives of his crew from a near-fatal spin and rescued a pilot from a blazing aircraft; he flew close to well-armed enemy vessels to drop his torpedoes; and led large formations in the narrow confines of the Norwegian fjords to successfully attack enemy shipping. But there is more to heroism than just courage and brave deeds; Jack’s career also encompassed the heroism of conviction, duty, responsibility and dedication to service.

Kristen Alexander has written the definitive biography of Clive Caldwell, Australia’s most successful fighter pilot of World War II. In Jack Davenport, Beaufighter Leader Kristen Alexander presents the life of another courageous and inspiring Australian WWII pilot.
James Cook

James Cook

Captain James Cook is one of the most recognisable in Australian history – an almost mythic figure who is often discussed, celebrated, reviled and debated. But who was the real James Cook?

The name Captain James Cook is one of the most recognisable in Australian history – an almost mythic figure who is often discussed, celebrated, reviled and debated.

But who was the real James Cook?


This Yorkshire farm boy would go on to become the foremost mariner, navigator and cartographer of his era, and to personally map a third of the globe. His great voyages of discovery were incredible feats of seamanship and navigation. Leading a crew of men into uncharted territories, Cook would face the best and worst of humanity as he took himself and his crew to the edge of the known world – and beyond.

With his masterful storytelling talent, Peter FitzSimons brings James Cook to life. Focusing on his most iconic expedition, the voyage of the Endeavour, where Cook first set foot on Australian and New Zealand soil, FitzSimons contrasts Cook against another figure who looms large in Australasian history: Joseph Banks, the aristocratic botanist. As they left England, Banks, a rich, famous playboy, was everything that Cook was not. The voyage tested Cook’s character and would help define his legacy.

Now, 240 years after James Cook’s death, FitzSimons reveals what kind of man James was at heart. His strengths, his weaknesses, his passions and pursuits, failures and successes.

JAMES COOK reveals the man behind the myth.
Lost World of the Kimberly

Lost World of the Kimberly

Where did they come from? And how and when did they arrive in Australia?
Little-known, difficult to reach, yet vital to this question are literally thousands of rock paintings, some believed to be as much as 50,000 years old, surviving high up in raised small caves on cliff faces in the remote and rugged Kimberley Ranges of North-West Australia.

Known as ‘Bradshaws’, after pioneer farmer Joseph Bradshaw who chanced upon the first examples in 1891, they feature lithe, graceful human figures depicted in a fashion altogether different from that of even the oldest traditional art. Indeed, present-day Aborigines disown them, insisting that the paintings are from ‘before our time’ and dismissing them as ‘rubbish’ art.

But just who were the people depicted in these Kimberley rock paintings? The paintings indicate a people with seafaring traditions, and this ‘first wave’ of pre-historic migrants to Australia could have a number of alternative origins.

Ian Wilson describes the early work on the Bradshaw Paintings, and explains how new dating techniques have shed new light on the findings. He explores the theories advanced for the origins of these people; one possibility is settlement from the Andaman Islands, where pygmy-like tribes still survive and speak a language closely related to some original languages. Farther afield still the author draws connections with Saharan peoples, and he even unearths startling similarities with South American tribes. He claims that even the boomerang is not peculiar to Australia, but can be traced in other, potentially earlier, pre-historic communities.

Recalling the early work of Thor Heyerdahl, this will be a wide-ranging and provocative book. It was the author’s enthusiasms for art, art history and archaeology which sparked his interest in the Turin Shroud, leading to two international bestsellers, and he now applies these same enthusiasms to the very Australian (yet also potentially international) mystery of the Kimberley rock
Monash's Masterpiece

Monash's Masterpiece

The Battle of Le Hamel on 4 July 1918 was an Allied triumph, and strategically very important in the closing stages of WW1.

A largely Australian force commanded by the brilliant John Monash, fought what has described as the first modern battle – where infantry, tanks, artillery and planes operated together, as a coordinated force.

Monash planned every detail meticulously – with nothing left to chance: integrated use of planes, wireless (and even carrier pigeons!)was the basis, and it went on from there, down to the details.

Infantry, artillery, tanks and planes worked together of the battlefront, with relatively few losses. In the words of Monash: ‘A perfect modern battle plan is like nothing so much as a score for an orchestral composition, where the various arms and units are the instruments, and the tasks they perform are their respective musical phrases.’

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