At the Front Line: Experiences of Australian Soldiers in World War II / Edition 1

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At the Front Line draws on a plethora of letters, diaries and documents written by more than 300 Australian soldiers in the field to present a picture of the hardships and triumphs of their national wartime experience. Mark Johnston analyzes the suffering of front-line soldiers caused not only by the opposing force, but also by the conditions imposed by their own army. The book details the physical and psychological pressures of life at the front. It shows the shocking realizations experienced by soldiers as they came into contact with their own mortality and the mortality of others for the first time. With a skilful hand, Mark Johnston paints a picture of survival and surrender in the surreal conditions in which the soldiers lived and fought: not only the rain, heat, hunger and noise, but also the boredom and the unnerving suspense. The author investigates both the immense strain that led to many breakdowns, and the characteristic forbearance that saw so many others through. In this testament to both scholarship and humanity, Mark Johnston has captured the stoicism and frailty of Australian soldiers struggling under the burdens of service in World War II.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"This is an extremely worthwhile study of an army..." R. Higham, Choice

"Johnston's discussion of the sources of stress on both scholarly and moving. It would be useful for any modern commander planning a ground war to refer to the discussion here of the incidence of psychoneurotic casualties both before, during and after battle." John McCarthy, Pacific Affairs

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521523233
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 7/18/2002
  • Edition description: First Paperback Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 261
  • Product dimensions: 5.98 (w) x 8.98 (h) x 0.67 (d)

Table of Contents

List of Plates
List of Tables
Conventions and Abbreviations
Pt. 1 The Front Line
1 The Unnatural Life at the Front 3
2 Experiences of Fear and Death 17
3 Major Sources of Front-line Stress 29
4 When Fear Became Unbearable 46
5 Taking the Strains of the Front Line 63
Pt. 2 The Army Way
6 Callous Bigwigs and Boredom 91
7 Army Muck-ups 104
8 Resentment of Inequality 124
9 Discipline and Making the Most of Army Life 144
Pt. 3 Mates
10 A Band of Brothers? 167
11 Aftermath and Conclusions 193
App. A Who Fought Where 200
App. B Statistical Comparisons: Religion, Occupation, Residence 211
Notes 214
Bibliography 237
Index 252
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