Jonathon King chronicles the life of Australian hero Alec Campbell, known as "the kid soldier" due to his slightness of build, as a 16-year-old who fought in Gallipoli during World War I. He only served for two months, but it was a formative experience for Campbell, who returned to Australia with a newfound patriotic spirit and socialist politics, eventually becoming a dedicated unionist and public servant. Peter Byrne conveys Campbell's fortitude and spirit with a respectful and confident performance that augments his dignity and principles, informed by his war experience and carried through the rest of his life.
With Alec Campbell's death, a door has closed to which no one has the key. Australia has lost the last direct link to one of the nation's most significant events and to a breed of Australians who have become larger than life - legends in our national psyche. He was not at Gallipoli long, though he dodged his share of bullets, saw his mates get shot, and suffered fever and sickness, as did so many of his peers.
But this book is not just an account of Gallipoli; it’s a snapshot of a century of Australian history seen through the life of one man. While it started out as the story of a Gallipoli veteran, it became the tale of an 'Aussie battler' who lived an extraordinary life - a life that reflected the growth of a nation, from horse and buggy to tense global village. Even without Gallipoli, his story - full of adventure and idealism, struggle and determination – is a yarn worth telling. But as the last Anzac, Alec became a symbol for something much greater; as the sole survivor of an estimated million soldiers who fought on all sides in the Gallipoli campaign, he became 'one man in a million'.
©2003 Jonathan King (P)2010 Bolinda Publishing Pty Ltd
I mistook the book for a story about the battle of Gallipoli.
I'm just a big fan of Peter Byrne
It was a story abut a great man, who spend most of his life, improving the life of the working class.
No doubt that Alec Campbell was a great man. But the battle of Gallipoli was a tiny bit of his life. Maybe not in his mind, but at least in time spend there. So the front cover of the book, is kind of misleading, since there where other things in his life, that took a great deal of his life. The Unions and the sailing. I was searching for a book about the battle of Gallipoli and about the daily life of the ANZAC troops. I just got the wrong book.
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