James Brown

Anzac's Long Shadow

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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.

Longlisted, 2014 John Button Prize

‘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

Anzac's Long Shadow is refreshing and engaging. It is also frank and no-nonsense. James Brown sets himself apart as a leader in this new generation of Anzacs by asking the hard questions.’ —Peter Leahy, Chief of the Australian Army, 2002–08

‘One of Australia's most insightful strategic analysts, James Brown, lays bare our cult of Anzac. As our diggers return from war, this book is more necessary than ever before. It's now time for us to remember not only our fallen, but our living.’ —Michael Ware, Former CNN Baghdad correspondent.

‘Brown, as both an intelligent military theorist and an engaging storyteller, is able to tackle such a controversial issue with humour and candour. A personal, challenging and informative work [with] the potential to contribute a great deal to Australia’s understanding of our own military service, and how we think about war itself.’ —Readings Monthly

‘Brown is lucid, bright and fierce — exceptional qualities in a writer and, no doubt, a soldier — and he’s written an important prelude to our Anzac centenary.’ —Saturday Paper

‘This is the most interesting and original book I have read on contemporary Australian public policy for a long time.’ —Judith Brett, the Monthly

‘It is the combination of academic insight and lived experience that gives this book its particular edge … A good, a necessary and an important book.’ —Canberra Times

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 Director of the Alliance 21 project at the United States Studies Centre at the University of Sydney. He was a military fellow at the Lowy Institute and chairs the NSW Government’s Contemporary Veterans Forum.
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164 printed pages
Original publication


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