Shortlist year: 2014

Shortlist category: Australian history

Published by: Allen & Unwin

The Great War is, for many Australians, the event that defined our nation. The larrikin diggers, trench warfare, and the landing at Gallipoli have become the stuff of the Anzac 'legend'. But it was also a war fought by the families at home. Their resilience in the face of hardship, their stoic acceptance of enormous casualty lists and their belief that their cause was just made the war effort possible.

Broken Nation is the first book to bring together all the dimensions of World War I. Combining deep scholarship with powerful storytelling, Joan Beaumont brings the war years to life. We witness the fear and courage of tens of thousands of soldiers, grapple with the strategic nightmares confronting the commanders, and come to understand the impact on Australians at home, and at the front, of death on an unprecedented scale.

About the author


Joan Beaumont

Joan Beaumont is Professor of History at the Strategic and Defence Studies Centre, Australian National University, and has published several books about World Wars I and II.

Judges’ comments

Joan Beaumont's Broken Nation: Australians in the Great Wartakes a fresh approach to a well-known story.

Her lively book concurrently examines life at the military front and life on the home front—with special reference to the families of those who served with the Australian Imperial Force along with the domestic political debate.

The author details the trauma of the First World War while acknowledging that Australia had clearly identified war aims in 1914 and that Australians at the time supported the cause.

The author makes the point that, despite the cost, victory was achieved in 1918 and that the men of the Australian Imperial Force chose to remember their victories, rather than their defeats, on the field of battle.