For Australia, a new nation with a relatively small population, the death of 60,000 soldiers during World War I was catastrophic. It is hardly surprising, then, that Australians evaluating the consequences of the conflict have tended to focus primarily on the numbing number of losses — on the sheer quantity of all those countrymen who did not return.
That there must have been extraordinary individuals among them has been implicitly understood, but these special Australians are unknown today. This book seeks to retrieve their stories and to fill the gaps in our collective memory. Farewell, Dear People contains ten extended biographies of young men who exemplified Australia’s gifted lost generation of World War I.
Among them are accounts of an internationally acclaimed medical researcher; a military officer described by his brigadier as potentially an Australian Kitchener; a rugby international who became an esteemed administrator and a rising Labor star; an engineer who excelled on Mawson’s Antarctic mission; a visionary vigneron and community leader who was renowned for successful winemaking at an unusually young age; a Western Australian Rhodes scholar assured of a shining future in the law and/or politics; a Tasmanian footballer who dazzled at the highest level; and a budding architect from Melbourne’s best-known creative dynasty who combined an endearing personality with his family’s flair for writing and drawing.
This magisterial book tells their stories for the first time. In doing so, it enriches the story of Australia immeasurably.
‘Written with considerable flair and empathy.’
Murray Johnson, Australian Journal of Politics and History
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‘There is so much to admire and to praise in this book. The research is prodigious, the storytelling hypnotic, the confidence and clarity of the writer remarkable. Do not for a second think of this book as military history only or mostly … This is a rich book, to be sure. One that I read with such pleasure and admiration. It is a wonderful tribute to the 10 men whose lives we discover for the first time, an extraordinary account of Australia from about the 1870s and into the 1930s, and deeply moving.’
Michael McKernan, Canberra Times
‘McMullin has set a new standard in Australian military biographical, for which he must be congratulated. Very highly recommended.’
Ron Austin, Mufti
‘A remarkably good book … Farewell Dear People has elevated the study of Australian involvement in the Great War to a new dimension in courage, commitment and sacrifice.’
Stephen Loosley, The Spectator
‘Farewell, Dear People is a powerful revelation of the lasting cost of the Great War — a deeply felt engagement with lost lives, and a superb union of research and writing.’
Peter Stanley, author of Men of Mont St Quentin
‘Superbly researched, and written with great heart.’