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Surviving the Great War
Australian Prisoners of War on the Western Front 1916–18


Part of Australian Army History Series

  • Date Published: February 2020
  • availability: In stock
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9781108486194

£ 46.00

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About the Authors
  • Between 1916 and 1918, more than 3,800 men of the Australian Imperial Force were taken prisoner by German forces fighting on the Western Front. Australians captured in France and Belgium did not easily integrate into public narratives of Australia in the First World War and its commemorative rituals. Captivity was a story of surrender and inaction, at odds with the Anzac legend and a triumphant national memory. Soldiers captured on the Western Front endured a broad range of experiences in German captivity, yet all regarded survival as a personal triumph. Surviving the Great War is the first detailed analysis of the little-known story of Australians in German captivity in the First World War. By placing the hardships of prisoners of war in a broader social and military context, this book adds a new dimension to the national wartime experience and challenges popular representations of Australia's involvement in the First World War.

    • Provides the first detailed analysis of Australians in German captivity in the First World War on the Western Front
    • Places the experiences of prisoners of war in a broader social and military context, thus adding a new dimension to the national wartime experience
    • Challenges popular representations of Australia's involvement in the First World War
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'The book examines capture itself and the treatment that captives received just after they were taken. It examines whether pre-war agreements like the Hague and Geneva Conventions were honoured … This is a very readable book that covers all the bases … Once again, this volume meets the very high standards set in the Australian Army History series published by Cambridge University Press.' Michael O'Brien, Royal United Services Institute of Victoria

    'Well-written and containing useful information regarding an aspect of the First World War that has not been investigated until now by historians, the book by Aaron Pegram is not only interesting for historical researchers, but it is also a contribution of significant sociological value that will surely help researchers understand both the complexity of the war and its influence on people, contributing to the investigation of the psychological and sociological structure of the human being in moments of crisis.' Iuliu-Marius Morariu, Transylvanian Review

    'Pegram never loses sight of the individuals in this fine academic work that reads exceptionally well … This is a model history that should be read by all scholars and students of the Great War and it will provide new ways to understand the 3,842 captured Canadians during the war.' Tim Cook, Canadian Military History

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    Product details

    • Date Published: February 2020
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9781108486194
    • length: 284 pages
    • dimensions: 235 x 158 x 22 mm
    • weight: 0.59kg
    • contains: 28 b/w illus. 14 colour illus. 2 maps 4 tables
    • availability: In stock
  • Table of Contents

    1. Raising the white flag: the capture of Australian troops on the Western Front
    2. The reciprocity principle: respecting and abrogating wartime agreements
    3. Giving the game away: the intelligence value of prisoners of war
    4. Saving lives: patriotic women, prisoners of war and the Australian Red Cross Society
    5. Challenging the Holzminden illusion: myth and reality of escape in the Great War
    6. Well fed and plenty of freedom: autonomy and independence in German captivity
    7. Hun haunted? Repatriation, home and after

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    Surviving the Great War

    Aaron Pegram

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  • Author

    Aaron Pegram, Australian War Memorial
    Aaron Pegram is a Senior Historian in the Military History Section at the Australian War Memorial.

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