Book talk: Old soldiers, new wars and ancient bones


Jeff Popple reviews three books about old soldiers, new wars and ancient bones. More of Jeff’s reviews can be found on his blog:

Tomorrow Will Be A Good Day by Captain Tom Moore

book cover with elderly man

Michael Joseph, $45

Ninety-nine-year-old Captain Tom became famous during the early stages of the pandemic for doing one hundred laps of his garden to raise money for charity. He was knighted by the Queen and became a vocal advocate for older Britons. Tomorrow Will Be A Good Day is his autobiography and details his life, from a childhood in the Yorkshire Dales to his service in the Royal Armoured Corp in India and Burma during World War II to his post-war experiences. It is an interesting memoir that also reflects the changing nature of British society. Optimistic and inspiring, it is a charming read.

Mosul by Ben Mckelvey

book cover with soldier

Hachette, $34.99

The battle for the Iraqi town of Mosul in 2017 was a brutal affair that resulted in thousands of deaths of combatants and civilians. In Mosul, Ben Mckelvey takes the reader behind the headlines and reveals the previously untold story of Australian involvement in both sides of the conflict. Drawing on rare access to the participants and their families, he vividly describes the role of Australian commandoes in secret operations during the battle and the opposing Australian jihadists who took their families to Iraq to fight for ISIS. An important and enthralling account of a little-known conflict and its lasting implications for Australia.

Ancient Bones by Madelaine Böhme, Rudiger Braun and Florian Breier

book cover with foot prints

Scribe, $35

Assisted by journalists Rudiger Braun and Florian Breier, renowned German palaeontologist Madelaine Böhme tells the remarkable story of the recent discovery of fossilised early human remains near Munich, which overturned previously held beliefs about human evolution. The nearly 12-million-year-old bones of an ancient ancestor throw doubt on earlier contentions that Africa, not Europe, was the birthplace of humanity. At times reading like a detective novel, the authors recount the background to the discovery and place it in a broader discussion about evolution. Full of fascinating detail and written in a very accessible and free flowing style, this an engaging piece of scientific writing that deserves broad readership. Highly recommended.

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