Anzac's Long Shadow by James Brown

Anzac's Long Shadow

By James Brown

  • Release Date: 2014-02-11
  • Genre: Politics & Current Affairs
Score: 4
From 12 Ratings
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‘A century ago we got it wrong. We sent thousands of young Australians on a military operation that was barely more than a disaster. It’s right that a hundred years later we should feel strongly about that. But have we got our remembrance right? What lessons haven’t we learned about war, and what might be the cost of our Anzac obsession?’

Defence analyst and former army officer James Brown believes that Australia is expending too much time, money and emotion on the Anzac legend, and that today’s soldiers are suffering for it.

Vividly evoking the war in Afghanistan, Brown reveals the experience of the modern soldier. He looks closely at the companies and clubs that trade on the Anzac story. He shows that Australians spend a lot more time looking after dead warriors than those who are alive. We focus on a cult of remembrance, instead of understanding a new world of soldiering and strategy. And we make it impossible to criticise the Australian Defence Force, even when it makes the same mistakes over and over. None of this is good for our soldiers or our ability to deal with a changing world. With respect and passion, Brown shines a new light on Anzac’s long shadow and calls for change.

"Bold, original, challenging - James Brown tackles the burgenoning Anzac industry and asks Australians to re-examine how we think about the military and modern-day service." - Leigh Sales

"The best book yet written, not just on Australia's Afghan war, but on war itself and the creator/destroyer myth of Anzac." - John Birmingham

James Brown is a former Australian Army officer, who commanded a cavalry troop in Southern Iraq, served on the Australian taskforce headquarters in Baghdad, and was attached to Special Forces in Afghanistan. Today he is the Military Fellow at the Lowy Institute for International Policy where he works on strategic military issues and defence policy. He also chairs the NSW Government’s Contemporary Veterans Forum. He lives in Sydney.


  • Engaging and passionate but lacking analytical depth

    By Sydney Palantir
    This is a very engaging read, written passionately by a modern-day Australian veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan. The sensational conclusions, however, seem to have been arrived at without rigorous analysis of historical context and all that has lead to what Anzac Day has become. Two fundamental assumptions relied upon by the author - that Anzac Day ought to focus entirely on the military (apparently overlooking the fact that the first two ANZAC divisions were composed entirely of civilian volunteer soldiers), and that veterans' affairs needs to play a zero-sum game with Anzac Day for the public's attention - are not sufficiently justified, thereby undermining the credibility of the conclusions reached. In response to the final question posed by the author, I'd recommend the recently published Army History Unit's 'The Landing At Anzac' by Chris Roberts.
  • Anzacs long shadow

    By Sven&Nay
    A mind changing book, well presented argument backed by fact. Well done V31. T9F.