Sunday, May 17, 2015

On dangerous ground: a Gallipoli story

Gallipoli 1915 at Lone Pine Lieutenant Roy Irwin disappears and Elsie, the nurse who loves him, is determined to discover his fate. This is just one of three threads used by historian, Bruce Scates, to tell the story of Anzac and its affect on Australians.The novel begins when Charles Bean and George Lambert with soldier, Harry Vickers, return to the Dardenelles in 1919 to ascertain what has happened to the graves of Australian and New Zealand soldiers who died at Gallipoli. The third thread of the story takes place early in 2015 when two historians are invited to submit information to a government enquiry on whether a proposed new road would impact on possible bodies remaining at battle sites.

Each chapter of the novel contains sections that further develop each of the story threads. The novel also reveals issues affecting the interpretation of events that occur in the different time frames. Bruce Scates combines fiction and fictional characters with historical events and people to tell the story. In the Reflections section at the end of the book he describes where he altered historical events to tell his story. Scates is particularly interested in memory of historical events and also in mourning and grief and these themes reoccur throughout the novel.  These were themes that made up part of the online course, One Hundred Stories project. The individual stories can be viewed online. Another theme explored in the book is the Turkish viewpoint of the battles at Gallipoli and the aftermath of these battles in the creation of a place of commemoration, not only for Australians and New Zealanders but also British, Canadian and Indian families as well as the families of Turkish forces who fought and died in this region.

For those interested in this period of history, On dangerous ground, challenges the way we we look at the Anzac story.
Book Club notes

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