Professor of History and Head of the School of Philosophical, Historical and International Studies, Christina Twomey has published her newest book, The Battle Within: POWs in postwar Australia (NewSouth Books, 2018).
In this emotional book, prize winning historian Professor Christina Twomey examines the life after captivity that faced thousands of Australians in 1945, and the some 15,000 prisoners of war (POWs) who were returned to Australia after World War Two, relinquished from Japanese captivity.
Using a previously forgotten trove of documents written by the former POWs, Professor Twomey paints a picture of the traumatic and often hidden struggles that were faced by these soldiers daily. What reality awaited the POWs from World War Two on their release from captivity? Was it possible for them to return to a so-called normal life after the horrors they had endured? And what would family, friends and their country think of them on their return?
A defeated soldier held prisoner by people of a different race did not sit well with the mythology of Anzac. Australian POWs had to struggle to rehabilitate themselves and to win compensation – the ‘battle within' was both a personal and national one. This book explores these struggles in detail and delves into the associated issues of rehabilitation, marriage breakdown, national shame and relationships with former enemies. It is a compelling and important book, exploring a topic that has been overlooked in our memory of the Second World War.
To learn more about this book, you can read an extract from the book in the Friday Essay in the Conversation: ‘It's not over in the homes': impotence, domestic violence and former POWs'
Or you can listen to Professor Twomey discuss her book with Mat McLachlan in this podcast on his ‘Living Histories' series.
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