Shortlist year: 2018

Shortlist category: Non-fiction

Published by: Allen & Unwin


In an extraordinary investigation undertaken over 10 years, Chris Masters opens up the heart of Australia's Special Forces and their war in Afghanistan. He gives voice to the soldiers, he takes us to the centre of some of the fiercest combat Australia has ever experienced and provides the most intimate examination of what it is like to be a member of this country's elite fighting forces. But he also asks difficult questions that reveal controversial clouds hanging over our Special Operations mission in Afghanistan.

About the author


Chris Masters

Chris Masters is a powerful force in Australian journalism. In 1985, he won Australia's most prestigious award in journalism, the Gold Walkley, for his Four Corners report on the sinking of the Rainbow Warrior. His reports The Big League and The Moonlight State both led to royal commissions that helped transform the nation. He is the author of the bestselling Jonestown (2006). His most recent book is the critically acclaimed Uncommon Soldier.

Judges’ comments

This is a meticulously researched book that for the first time offers a comprehensive account of Australia's special forces' role in Afghanistan. Chris Masters brings his experience as one of our best-known investigative journalists to the complex task of recording recent military history. The book is a result of a decade of field work and draws on official documentation as well as extensive interviews with servicemen and their families to present a compelling mix of military and personal history. No Front Line reveals much about Australian culture as it focuses in detail on the operations in the Afghan conflict. Masters has a spare writing style but still manages to get inside the minds and culture of the people on the ground: this is an account of the psychological as well as the physical terrain that our special forces confronted in Afghanistan. For many Australians, the operations of this war have been distant and unknown. Masters' detailed book tells an important story of modern warfare. This was undoubtedly a difficult book to write but the author navigates complex material with authority and humanity to present a serious and balanced account.