ANZAC legacies examined

What happens when wars end and the fighting men and women return?

That question is answered in a just released book co-edited by award-winning La Trobe University historian Dr Marina Larsson and Dr Martin Crotty from the University of Queensland.

Dr Larsson says the book, ‘Anzac Legacies' explores the challenges faced by returning soldiers – from the ‘broken’ Anzacs of 1914 - 18 to those who served recently in Afghanistan and Iraq.

It traces the physical and mental cost of war and considers how veterans, governments and families have responded to the significant emotional, social and financial demands on them.

Dr Larsson, a Research Associate in the History Program at La Trobe University, said Anzac Legacies featured the work of leading historians and Australian Defence Force psychologists.

'It offers new perspectives on how Australians have lived with, and continue to live with, the legacies of war,' she said.

Importantly, it demonstrates how the wars of the last century have had an enduring impact on generations of Australians well beyond the end of battlefield conflict.

Dr Larsson said there were myriad dimensions of repatriation, from war disability to commemoration, from family caregiving to ex-service organisations, from psychological re adjustment to war death and intergenerational grief.

'The central question is: when do wars really end?' she said.

'At the heart of the book are those who return home – soldiers, nurses, doctors, chaplains and other service personnel. These people link the battlefront and homefront, bridging the gap between Australia and its battle zones through their memories, physical wounds and mental scars.

'Despite the geographical distance that separates battlefront and homefront, service personnel always bring the war back home with them.'

The book, published by Australian Scholarly Publishing ($44), is divided into four major themes: broken soldiers and their carers; bringing the war back home; repair and reparation; and returning now.
Dr Larsson last year published the first full-length study of Australian soldiers disabled during the First World War.  
Titled Shattered Anzacs: Living with the Scars of War (UNSW Press), it revealed the hidden histories of these servicemen and the thousands of Australian families that welcomed them home.

Dr Larsson won the Australian Historical Association’s Biennial Serle Award in 2008 for the best postgraduate thesis in Australian History. In 2009 Shattered Anzacs was shortlisted for the NSW Premier's Prize for Australian History and commended for the Asher Literary Award.

Marina Larsson is available for media interview on Mobile: 0425 767 119