Farewell, Dear People
About the book
For Australia, a new nation with a relatively small population, the death of 60,000 soldiers during World War I was catastrophic. It is hardly surprising, then, that Australians evaluating the consequences of the conflict have tended to focus primarily on the numbing number of losses — on the sheer quantity of all those countrymen who did not return.
That there must have been extraordinary individuals among them has been implicitly understood, but these special Australians are unknown today. This book seeks to retrieve their stories and to fill the gaps in our collective memory. Farewell, Dear People contains ten extended biographies of young men who exemplified Australia's gifted lost generation of World War I.
About the author
Ross McMullin is a historian and biographer who has written extensively about Australia's involvement in World War I.
His biographies include the award-winning Pompey Elliott and Will Dyson: Australia's radical genius, which was highly commended by the judges of the National Biography Award. Dr McMullin's most recent book, Farewell, Dear People: Biographies of Australia's lost generation, was awarded the Prime Minister's Prize for Australian History and the National Cultural Award.
He is also the author of the ALP centenary history The Light on the Hill: The Australian Labor Party 1891–1991 and another book about Australian political history, So Monstrous a Travesty: Chris Watson and the world's first national labour government.
Ross McMullin has taken 10 young men from different backgrounds and various parts of the country who were killed in the Great War and poignantly recounts the story of their relatively short lives. Amongst these lost leaders were sportsmen, lawyers, a scientist, a politician, a farmer and a winemaker.
The book, drawing on first hand sources, provides a fascinating glimpse into the Australia of the late 19th Century and then the first decade before the conflict that engulfed Europe and drew in the British dominions. It also tells the reader a great deal about how the war was actually fought on the ground by those present on the Western Front and at Gallipoli. Particularly moving are the accounts of how the families of these young men responded to their deaths. Many of them never fully recovered and the memory of this lost generation was an ever-present shadow over Australia in the 1920s and 1930s. This is a powerful and important contribution to Australian history.