22 April 2010

What happens when wars end and the fighting men and women return?

A new book edited by Univerity of Queensland and La Trobe University researchers Dr Martin Crotty and Dr Marina Larsson explores the challenges faced by returning soldiers.

Anzac Legacies explores challenges from the ‘broken’ Anzacs of 1914–18 to service personnel recently deployed in Afghanistan and Iraq.

It traces the physical and mental cost of war and considers how veterans, governments and families have responded to the significant emotional, social and financial demands on them.

Dr Crotty, who is a senior lecturer in UQ’s School of History, Philosophy, Religion and Classics, said Anzac Legacies featured the work of leading historians and Australian Defence Force psychologists.

“It offers new perspectives on how Australians have lived with, and continue to live with, the legacies of war,” he said.

“Importantly, it demonstrates how the wars of the last century have had an enduring impact on generations of Australians well beyond the end of battlefield conflict.

Dr Crotty said there were myriad dimensions of repatriation, from war disability to commemoration, from family caregiving to ex-service organisations, from psychological readjustment to war death and intergenerational grief.

“The central question is: when do wars really end? “ he said.

“At the heart of the book are those who return home – soldiers, nurses, doctors, chaplains and other service personnel.

“By their very act of return these people link the battlefront and homefront, bridging the gap between Australia and its battle zones through their memories, physical wounds and mental scars.

“For despite the geographical distance that separates battlefront and homefront, service personnel always bring the war back home with them.”

The book, published by Australian Scholarly Publishing ($44) is divided into chapters on four major themes: Broken soldiers and their Carers; Bringing the War Back Home; Repair and Reparation; and Returning Now.

Dr Martin Crotty teaches History at The University of Queensland, specialising in studies of Australian society at war. He has written extensively on topics to do with the militarisation of Australian masculinity prior to World War I and is currently examining the history of the Returned and Services League, the principal veterans’ body in Australia. Martin’s books include Anzac Legacies Making the Australian Male (2001), The Great Mistakes of Australian History (2006) and Turning Points in Australian History, the last two of which were co-edited with David Roberts.

Dr Marina Larsson is a Melbourne-based historian who has held lecturing positions at La Trobe and Monash universities. In 2008, she received the Australian Historical Association’s biennial Serle Award for the best postgraduate thesis in Australian History. In 2009, her book Shattered Anzacs: Living with the Scars of War (UNSW Press, 2009) was shortlisted for the NSW Premier’s Prize for Australian History and commended for the Asher Literary Award. Marina currently works for the Victorian Government in the area of veterans' heritage.

Media contacts: Martin Crotty 0401 860 094
Marina Larsson 0425 767 119