August 11th 2018

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COVER STORY Doctor-patient privilege dies with My Health Record

EDITORIAL By-elections reflect disenchantment with major parties

CANBERRA OBSERVED Longman result may force PM to rethink policies

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS No question about it: the Don is in charge

ENERGY Lower electricity price a fantasy

EUTHANASIA Vulnerable will be victims of Leyonhjelm's deadly bill


PHILOSOPHY On human nature

CULTURE AND SOCIETY The shadow of that hyddeous strength

FICTION A Scent of Musk

MUSIC Globalised Music

CINEMA The Equalizer 2

BOOK REVIEW ADF as modern peacekeepers

BOOK REVIEW The men who built up a great tradition


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The men who built up a great tradition

News Weekly, August 11, 2018

THE SHADOW MEN: The Leaders Who Shaped the Australian Army from the Veldt to Vietnam

by Craig Stockings and John Connor (eds)

NewSouth Publishing, Sydney
Paperback: 288 pages
Price: AUD$34.99

Reviewed by Michael E. Daniel


Ask the average Australian to name an Australian military leader, and they will probably be able to identify General Sir John Monash, and possibly Field Marshal Sir Thomas Blamey. comparatively few people, however, are able to identify other significant leaders such as Hutton, Legge, O’Brien, or Brogan. The Shadow Men addresses this lack of recognition.

Edited by military historians Craig Stockings and John Connor, this antho­logy explores the contributions of 10 senior military leaders in the history of the Australian Army.

Each study is written by a different historian; thus, there is a difference of emphasis from one contribution to the next. While some give a panoramic view of their career, others focus on a specific period in their subject’s career in their analysis of the outstanding contribution the leader made.

The first of these biographies is of Lieutenant-General Sir Edward Hutton. A British officer, Hutton had previously commanded New South Welsh and Canadian militia forces, before seeing service in the Boer War. He was appointed to the position of General Officer Commanding by the Governor-General, holding the post from 1902 to 1904. Although he did not achieve his vision of the creation of a militia force capable of defending Australia and contributing to wider imperial defence, his contribution to the development of the Australian Army, particularly his input into the framing of the Defence Force Act (1903), was seminal.

The next biography is that of Major-General Sir William Bridges, whose death at Gallipoli in May 1915 makes him the most senior ranking Australian Army officer killed in action. Ironically, almost forgotten is his role as the inaugural commandant of the Royal Military College, Duntroon, and in this capacity he played a key role in shaping how officers were to be trained for the Army.

Other World War I commanders in this anthology include Major-General James Gordon Legge and General Sir Cyril Brudenell White.

The World War II commanders covered are Lieutenant-General Sir John Northcott, and Lieutenant-General Sir Sydney Rowell.

Ironically, Rowell’s military career appeared to be all but over when he was removed by Blamey from his command in Papua New Guinea on September 28, 1942. However, he played a key role in the development of the Australian Army after World War II. Although it transitioned to being a peacetime army, there was the recognition that a substantial, well-trained force was needed, particularly as the Cold War gained momentum.

Perhaps two of the most interesting biographies in this anthology are those of Brigadier John O’Brien, who played an important role in supplying war materiel in World War II, and Colonel Eustace Keogh, who oversaw the development of training pamphlets in the post-World War II period that were designed specifically for the Australian Army and that replaced the British publications hitherto used.

The anthology ends with a study of Lieutenant-General Sir Mervyn Brogan. As the Chief of General Staff in the early 1970s, Brogan adroitly managed the transition of the Army as it withdrew forces from Vietnam and entered into a lengthy era of peace.

As each author discusses the particular chal­lenges their respective leader faced, and how they overcame them, what emerges is a potted history of the Australian Army. Although primarily written for those with a particular interest in Australian military history, The Shadow Men would be of interest to a general readership. The biographies are well researched, with each author providing extensive notes, and making appropriate references to primary sources.

Michael E. Daniel is a Melbourne-based writer.

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