New Zealand's Western Front Campaign.

Author:Moremon, John
Position:Book review


Author: Ian McGibbon

Published by: David Bateman Publishing, Auckland, 2016, 408pp, $79.99.

There is no doubt the centenary of the Great War of 1914-18 has rekindled interest in this 'war to end all wars'. In New Zealand, the government's WW100 programme has sought to generate public interest in 'one of the most significant events of the 20th Century and [one that] had a deep and lingering impact on New Zealand society'. The greater challenge is to sustain that interest as 'centenary fatigue' creeps in. The series of commemorative events during 2014-19 (taking in the centenary of the Treaty of Versailles) will be forgotten, other than by academics studying the phenomenon of remembrance. With the mid-point of the centenary having passed, it is a good time to be thinking about the legacy of WW100.

Ian McGibbon's New Zealand's Western Front Campaign forms part of the legacy. This book will be read for many years to come. It is one of several books to be published in the WW100 First World War Centenary History--a partnership between Manatu Taonga Ministry for Culture and Heritage (MCH), New Zealand Defence Force, Massey University and the Returned and Services Association.

McGibbon is New Zealand's foremost military historian. For over 40 years, he has produced landmark works, including: Blue-water Rationale: the Naval Defence of New Zealand 1914-1942 (1981) and The Path to Gallipoli: Defending New Zealand 1840-1915 (1991); and edited The Oxford Companion to New Zealand Military History (2000). As general editor of war history at the Ministry for Culture and Heritage--a role unfortunately discontinued upon his retirement from the MCH--McGibbon also wrote two substantial and well-received official histories, New Zealand and the Korean War (1992, 1996) and New Zealand's Vietnam War (2010).

New Zealand's Western Front Campaign examines New Zealand's contribution to the principal theatre of the war. While Gallipoli is most well remembered--it gave us ANZAC Day, after all--the New Zealand Division's battle on the Western Front during 1916-18 was more significant strategically and more cosdy. There are more New Zealand war graves and names on memorials to the missing in France and Belgium than anywhere else in the world.

McGibbon is acutely aware of the importance of this experience. The book's notes reveal impressive research, drawing on official and private papers in archives and libraries across New Zealand...

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