Jeff Popple reviews three books for Australia Day. More of Jeff’s reviews can be found on his blog: murdermayhemandlongdogs.com
Black Summer edited by Michael Rowland
ABC Books, $34.99
Bushfires are a quintessential part of Australian life. In the last bushfire season, the damage was unprecedented, with fires devouring more than 18 million hectares of bush and farmland, destroying around 3,000 homes and claiming the lives of 33 people. They also wreaked horrendous damage on our wildlife, driving some species to the brink of extinction. This marvellous book is a record of what happened, a tribute to those involved and a timely reminder of the ongoing risks of climate change. With the profits going to the Red Cross Disaster Relief and Recovery Fund, it is an important book to read and reflect on this Australia Day.
The Long Shadow by Peter Yule
Over the years, wars have left a significant stamp on the Australian psyche and consciousness. This is particularly true of the Vietnam War. The war had a profound effect on those who served, and the medical and psychological legacies have been a continuing issue for veterans and their families, and the broader Australian community. In this ground-breaking book, Peter Yule draws on a broad sweep of resources, including the veterans’ own stories, to examine the aftermath of the Vietnam War. In an accessible style, he explores the medical impacts, the effects of Agent Orange and PTSD, and the evolution of the repatriation system. A major study deserving of wide readership.
The Bushranger’s Wife by Cheryl Adnams
Harper Collins, $29.99
Providing a lighter view of Australia’s history is Cheryl Adnams’ The Bushranger’s Wife. Set in the central highlands of Victoria in 1861, this rollicking historical romance follows the notorious bushranger ‘Jack the Devil’ and the feisty Pru Stanforth, who becomes embroiled in his adventures. Seeking an escape from her staid upbringing and rebelling against her grandmother, Pru takes up with the bushranger, despite the escalating threats to their future. Adnams has an engaging, easy flowing style and this entertaining tale of passion and danger will appeal to her growing readership base and other fans of historical, rural Australian romances.
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