For Australians, Kokoda is the iconic battle of World War II, yet few people know just what happened and just what our troops achieved. Now, best-selling author Peter FitzSimons tells the Kokoda story in a gripping, moving story for all Australians.
Conditions on the track were hellish - rain was constant, the terrain close to inhospitable, food and ammunition supplies were practically non-existent, and the men constantly battled malaria and dysentery, as well as the Japanese. Kokoda was a defining battle for Australia - a small force of young, ill-equipped Australians engaged a highly experienced and hitherto unstoppable Japanese force on a narrow, precarious jungle track - and defeated them.
©2005 Peter FitzSimons (P)2011 Bolinda Publishing Pty Ltd
This rendition kept me awake all night, with tears of sorrow and chest pumping pride.
Despite the petty politics of the 'high ups' these few men were there to do a job. Stop the Japs. They did, but at a cost.
This book is about mate-ship and lost mates. It makes you proud to be Australian to learn more of the New Guinea campaign's details and the privations endured by our fathers and grandfathers in support of their families back home.
I am an avid eclectic reader.
In World War II the Japanese landed in New Guinea in preparation for the invasion of Australia. The 39th Battalion along with its later reinforcement troops of the 2/14th and 2/16th battalions saved Australia from Invasion. Australia had send troops to help Britain in Egypt and Europe; they recalled these troops to protect Australia from Invasion, in the meantime they had to rely on the 39th Battalion.
The 39th Battalion went to New Guinea and fought the battles of Kokoda between July and November 1942. They were outnumbered five to one, as they held back the Japanese on the Kokoda track. The Kokoda Track is the only land route from Buna (air field) in the north, across the Owen Stanley Ranges to Port Moresby in the South. The 39th fought in spite of being weakened by dysentery, poor supplies, and little food and depleted ammunition.
Beyond the graphic descriptions of battle, FitzSimons choose to weave personal experience of a few figures into his account of the struggle. Stan Bisset, his brother Butch and Joe Dawson are some of those he wrote about. He also writes about Damien Parer, Australia’s greatest war photographer and ABC Radio War Correspondent Chester Wilmot.
FitzSimons states that the battle of Isurava on August 26, 1942 was a defining battle that proved the value of the Australian soldier. FitzSimons gives a moving account of the battle and the extraordinary feats of Sergeant Bruce Kingsbury who was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross.
FitzSimons journalist background is revealed in the way he wrote the book as compared to a historian. The author did a prodigious amount of research for this book. In his preparation to write the book FitzSimons walked the Kokoda track. He said, “It was the hardest physical ordeal of my life.”
There are plenty of stories of horrific battles and terrible conditions and privations for soldiers of both sides to have endured. General Douglas McArthur is portrayed in a poor light by FitzGerald; he included the upper brass of the Australian Army for their poor performance. FitzSimons points out that Kokoda (WWII) was the Gallipoli (WWI) for a new generation.
If you are interested in World War II Pacific Theatre history, this is an important book about the battle for Australia. Louis FitzGerald narrated the book.
I am a retired social worker/psychotherapist/group therapist. I am also a qualified senior flight instructor. I served as an air traffic control officer in the Australian Air Force during the Vietnam War. I am a keen sea-kayaker. I recently completed a Master's degree and am working towards a PhD.
This book gives a very moving and graphic account of the first time the Japanese Imperial Army was defeated on land during World War 2. It describes how a battalion of Australian Army Reserve soldiers slowed the advance of the Japanese across New Guinea long enough to allow the arrival of battle seasoned Australian Army Regular soldiers from the Middle East. Eventually, the Australians pushed the Japanese back and defeated them.
Military History and Archaeology
Yes it is a good story/history of the trials and heroic deeds of the 2nd AIF.
Yes but there is no way to do it in one sitting, but the book will keep you interested
History of a campaign that is all but forgotten, thanks for retelling the history of the AIF in the Pacfic.
I will listen to this more than twice Peter covers the story of Kokoda well, with a touch of humor .
A little to-much like a novel .But a GREAT book
An engrossing read which will keep you entertained to the end. Write some more like this please Peter.
Fascinating, Informative, Inspiring.
The typical Australian home guardsman. What grit!
Great variety in narration. Compelling, actually. Clear enunciation enhanced with appropriate accent.
Kokoda: Unparalleled Herorism.
This would be a fabulous movie. It needs to be made. It would be expensive but no more so than The Red Line, which was rather a disappointment. There are many talented Australian actors who could play the parts. In the hands of the right production team this is a potential Oscar winner for sure.
Great story of an under-appreciated part of WWII
Not sure I liked the "echo"effect when the narrator was reading a direct quote. Unnecessary distraction
Eclectic mixer of books of my youth and ones I always meant to read, but didn't.
It seems appropriate to write a review of this title on Australia Day. FitzSimons tells a familiar historical tale of the misuse of Australian troops by persons far away and without adequate appreciation of the facts as they were at the battleface. Like many stories of former gallantry, there is a sense of the inevitable and of the unnecessary. FitzSimons captures all of this and more. He is unflattering in his condemnation of criminal negligence, whether it was Blamey's or McArthur's. He is patriotic to a fault and respectful of the Digger and the Digger's duty to his mates. He tells the story, often in the first person, relying on interviews with survivors, diaries and other contemporaneous records. It reads like a novel in parts and a documentary in others. At times it choked me up, but it often made me smile. It is a strange thing that one can be proud of some much bloodshed. That said, if the book has a failing, it is that it is a wee bit too empathic for me and, I suspect many Australians, preferring as we do to let the result speak for itself and not boast about it. Of course there are exceptions, and FitzSimons might have found a valid one here.
As for FitzGerald's reading, I thought it an outstanding performance from an accomplished artist. He captured the fervor, the frustration and the brutality, and his nuance was pitched perfectly. I loved the use of the 1940's Australian idiom (now, sadly, dying) but I thought the use of an echo on many of the quotations was an unnecessary dramatic device. I liked the Chapter divides military segue. I note that the new edition of the hardcopy contains an Afterword that is not in this production, but which is short and could be read in the bookshop waiting in line!
I think this is an important read for most Australians. I was heartened to see from the reviews on this site that it struck a chord with many others, too. I would be interested to know how it has been received in a Japanese market because, although critical of Japanese brutality (to themselves and others), it is respectful of those unfortunate men of both sides that gave their lives to hold or take a sod of mud in a jungle far from their homes.
Cuz it was fair dinkum and even better
Strong men we don't build these guys anymore. Makes me want to cry and be proud at the same time.
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