Drought: The Red Marauder

Drought: The Red Marauder

Drought: The Red Marauder

Drought: The Red Marauder

Synopsis

The images of drought-baked, cracked earth, dried up river beds, the skeletons of dead animals, and despairing farmers are part of Australia's vision of itself. Drought is a fact of life in this country and there is usually a drought somewhere in Australia at any particular time. Yet there has been a reluctance to acknowledge drought as a regular feature of Australian life and the arrival of drought is often greeted with what one commentator called "indignant surprise". The story of drought is told through the eyes of people who have lived through droughts over the more than 200 years of European settlement. This is a story of their creativity, their endurance, and their suffering. not become a significant part of the historians' picture of Australia how have governments sought to manage drought? The book will move chronologically through the drought years but will be alert to the dangers of repetition and a numbingly similar pattern. It will cover the whole of the continent. It will seek the unusual and the exemplary story. It will try to get the smell of the land and the sweat of the oppressed farmer and his family into the nostrils of the readers. It will be heavily illustrated.

Excerpt

I thought I knew about war but I had come fortuitously to war history. I had completed a doctoral thesis in the field of religious history, but studied the churches responding to war; a social history of the Australian people in the Great War and then a senior position at the Australian War Memorial. I would take the Memorial’s important visitors on guided tours of its galleries, explaining Gallipoli and the Western Front. I engaged with other historians and curators in the renewal of the Memorial’s galleries and read more and more of the intimate stuff of war held in the Memorial’s rich archives. I travelled, as the historian, on the government-sponsored veterans’ return visits to Gallipoli, the Western Front and the Australian battlefields of the Second World War. It was an enormous privilege to travel with these veterans, to see the battlefields through their eyes, to listen to their stories. I have stood on the beach at Anzac Cove and pondered the bravery of men slowly making their way to the unknown shore. I have looked at the flatlands at Fromelles . . .

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