Friday, December 11, 2015

World War I a history in 100 stories

In April / May this year Monash University ran an online course via FutureLearn. The course was World War I a history in 100 stories and it was also repeated later in the year. During the course we looked at stories illustrating the effects of war on participants and their families. The stories studied were short versions taken from a selection of 100 stories, researched by Bruce Scates, Rebecca Wheatley and Laura James, which have now been published in one volume.

Collectively the chosen stories portray the effects of war. However, as noted in the introduction, the collection is not truly representative, in a statistical sense, of the possible stories that could be told. The authors have perhaps over represented the stories of nurses and Indigenous Australians as these stories have often previously been under represented in other collections.

As well as looking at the direct effects of war, including death or being wounded, the stories look at lasting effects of war, both physically and mentally, as those returning from war tried to readjust to civilian life. Some did not succeed. Mourning and commemoration are themes examined in some of the stories.The work of women as nurses and in other support roles are also recorded in the book.

The book is illustrated and at the end of each section there is a section: Sources and Further Reading. These are only some of the stories that could be told about the effects of war on Australian and New Zealand families. The stories have been compiled from official records, other material in archives, newspapers and, in some cases, information from family members. The book is a welcome addition to the growing collection of material on Australia and World War I.

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