Blog Archives

Balancing the probabilities, Christopher Pugsley

Hit and Run: The New Zealand SAS in Afghanistan and the Meaning of Honour
Nicky Hager and Jon Stephenson
Potton and Burton, $35.00,
ISBN 9780947503390

“What is it that we don’t understand? We’re going to lose this fucking war if we don’t stop killing civilians”: General Stanley McChrystal’s outburst at his morning staff briefing in the summer of 2009 reflected his concern about the steady trickle of Afghan civilian deaths from operations conducted by the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF). He wrote that the “instinctive way we reacted to alleged incidents made it worse”.  Investigations and apologies meant little if the incidents continued as they did. As a group of Afghan elders told one of his fact-finding teams: “Afghans hear with their eyes, not just with their ears.” In essence, it is not what you say, but what you do – which is the story of Nicky Hager’s and Jon Stephenson’s Hit and Run: The New Zealand SAS in Afghanistan and the Meaning of Honour.

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With the Second Division, Tony Simpson

A Bloody Road Home: World War Two and New Zealand’s Heroic Second Division Christopher Pugsley Penguin, $70.00 ISBN 9780143571896 It might seem strange that we have had to wait seven decades from the conclusion of WWII for a comprehensive history

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Voices from the past, Jock Phillips

Remembering Gallipoli: Interviews with New Zealand Gallipoli Veterans
Christopher Pugsley and Charles Ferrall (eds)
Victoria University Press, $40.00
ISBN 9780864739919

Amid the flood of printed words that have marked the centenary of New Zealand’s Gallipoli experience, Remembering Gallipoli comes with, in every sense, the most history. The interviews on which the book is based were initially conducted in 1982 by four women, members of a media company, Bluestockings, as background research for Television New Zealand. There were 130 soldiers and one nurse interviewed, all in their late 80s or 90s. Chris Pugsley and Maurice Shadbolt then re-interviewed 21 (or 26 as Pugsley writes elsewhere) on camera. Extracts were used in the powerful 1984 documentary Gallipoli: The New Zealand Story and drawn on for Pugsley’s magnificent book in the same year with the same name. Shadbolt chose 12 of the subjects to tell their stories in his stirring Voices of Gallipoli (1988), a book which was a revelation to many, including Helen Clark, who read it on the plane flying to Gallipoli in 2000 when she conceived of a project to record the memories of WWII veterans.

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Over there, Tony Simpson

New Zealand and the Second World War  Ian McGibbon Hodder Moa Beckett, $40.00, ISBN 1869589548 A Fair Sort of Battering: New Zealanders remember the Italian Campaign ed Megan Hutching HarperCollins, $40.00, ISBN 1869505050 The Desert Railway  Brendan Judd Penguin, $29.95,

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Putting it all behind them, Christopher Pugsley

Dark Laughter: War in Song and Popular Culture Les Cleveland Praeger, US$49.95 ISBN 0275947645 Silent Casualties: New Zealand’s Unspoken Legacy of the Second World War Alison Parr Tandem Press, $29.95 ISBN 0908884672 Whistle As You Go: The Story of the

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The culture of death – where are the songs? Les Cleveland

Deep Jay: Kiwis At War In Vietnam Rod Eder Tandem Press, $19.95 ISBN 0 908884 55 9 Ensor’s Endeavour Vincent Orange Grub Street, London (also available from PO Box 2319, Christchurch), $59.95, ISBN 1 898 697 043 North From Taranto:

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