Featured Publications

The Last Battle: Soldier Settlement in Australia 1916-1939

scates-featured-last-battleWhen Australian soldiers returned from the First World War they were offered the chance to settle on ‘land fit for heroes’. Promotional material painted a picture of prosperous farms and contented families, appealing to returned servicepeople and their families hoping for a fresh start. Yet just 20 years after the inception of these soldier settlement schemes, fewer than half of the settlers remained on their properties. In this timely book, based on recently uncovered archives, Bruce Scates and Melanie Oppenheimer map out a deeply personal history of the soldiers’ struggle to transition from Anzac to farmer and provider. At its foundation lie thousands of individual life stories shaped by imperfect repatriation policies. The Last Battle examines the environmental challenges, the difficulties presented by the physical and psychological damage many soldiers had sustained during the war, and the vital roles of women and children.


World War One: A History in 100 Stories

Book CoverAn unflinching, illustrated social history, World War One: A history in 100 stories remembers not just the men and women who lost their lives during the battles of WWI, but also those who returned home, irreparably damaged by war.

For these families, the Great War did not end in 1918 and one hundred years on, we too still live with its consequences. Authors and historians Bruce Scates, Rebecca Wheatley & Laura James believe that the Centenary of ANZAC is a time to gauge the cost of war for our entire community and here these heartbreaking and deeply personal stories are told.

Among the cast of the 100 stories are not just soldiers, sailors, airmen and nurses but parents who lost their sons, wives who struggled with shell shocked husbands and children who never knew their parents. These 100 stories are not just about the experiences of individuals but also describe combat, the nature of loss and bereavement; the politics of gender, nation and empire, and the challenge of building a new society in the aftermath of war.

Drawn from a unique collection of sources, including repatriation files, these stories reveal a broken and suffering generation – gentle men driven to violence, mothers sent insane with grief, the hopelessness of rehabilitation and the quiet, inescapable sadness of loss.

A hundred years after the end of the Great War, World War One: A history in 100 stories aids our understanding of that conflict and will change the way we remember so many lost lives.


Anzac Journeys: Returning to the Battlefields of World War Two

scates-featured-anzac-journeysAustralians have been making pilgrimages to the battlefields and cemeteries of World War Two since the 1940s, from the jungles of New Guinea and South-East Asia to the mountains of Greece and the deserts of North Africa. They travel in search of the stories of lost loved ones, to mourn the dead and to come to grips with the past. With characteristic empathy, Bruce Scates charts the history of pilgrimages to Crete, Kokoda, Sandakan and Hellfire Pass. He explores the emotional resonance that these sites have for those who served and those who remember. Based on surveys, interviews, extensive fieldwork and archival research, Anzac Journeys offers insights into the culture of loss and commemoration and the hunger for meaning so pivotal to the experience of pilgrimage. Richly illustrated with full-colour maps and photographs from the 1940s to today, Anzac Journeys makes an important and moving contribution to Australian military history.

‘This book is an astonishing achievement, at once sensitive, thoughtful, moving.’
Professor Jay Winter 


On Dangerous Ground: A Gallipoli Story

In the lead up to the centenary of Anzac, one of Australia’s leading historians changes the way we see Gallipoli.  Faultless research and compelling narrative shape an ‘imagined history’ and enriches our understanding of the Great War.

On the day Australians charge the Nek, a man goes missing at Gallipoli.  The woman who loved him and the soldiers who served alongside him begin their search.  In 1919, historian CEW Bean returns to Anzac, to solve one of the greatest mystery of the campaign, to discover Gallipoli’s secret.

“On Dangerous Ground” is about unresolved loss, the need to know, and a story of reconciliation that bridges countries and generations.  Fusing literature, fiction and history, it journeys across a real and imagined landscape, empowering voices and lives too long locked in the archives.   Steeped in a deep knowledge of the past and courageously contemporary, it asks what Gallipoli means in the twenty-first century.

 ‘Suspenseful and theatrical, it lights up the Anzac war from angles not available to conventional history. What daring! The 1915 narrative is itself a tour de force.’
Ken Inglis

 ‘A unique look at Gallipoli in all its tragedy, calamity and complexity. An eloquent and pacy narrative that will engross all readers who have any interest in this myth-founding event.’
Tom Keneally


Place to Remember: A History of the Shrine of Remembrance

“The Shrine of Remembrance is Melbourne’s most imposing monument, and one of the most extraordinary war memorials anywhere. In this well-researched, perceptive, and passionately engaged book, Bruce Scates looks behind the Corinthian columns of a familiar landmark to reveal the tangled emotions – pride, gratitude, comradeship and ambition, as well as grief and loss – that shaped Victoria’s tribute to the dead of the Great War. The Shrine, he shows, has not only been a place to remember, but its history mirrors our changing ways of mourning and remembering. At a time when the story of the Anzacs again resonates strongly with the Australian public, The Shrine inspires us to ponder anew the complex relationship between history – what they did – and memory – how we remember them.”

Graeme Davison, Sir John Monash Distinguished Professor, School of Historical Studies, Monash University

“Energetic research applied to an unusually wide range of questions about the making of an institution; scrupulous and imaginative scholarship … An admirable achievement”.


Return to Gallipoli

Every year tens of thousands of Australians make their pilgrimages to Gallipoli, France and other killing fields of the Great War. It is a journey steeped in history. Some go in search of family memory, seeking the grave of a soldier lost a lifetime ago. For others, Anzac pilgrimage has become a rite of passage, a statement of what it means to be Australian. This book explores the memory of the Great War through the historical experience of pilgrimage.