Bad Characters: Sex, Crime, Murder and Mutiny in the Great War

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Allen & Unwin, Aug 1, 2010 - History - 288 pages
Australians have celebrated the Anzacs for nearly a century--but what do we really know of what war did to them? Charles Bean, historian of the citizen soldiers of the Australian Imperial Force, wrote that its history spanned 'the good and the bad'--but so far Australians have only looked at the good.

Leading war historian Peter Stanley reveals the citizen soldiers the army regarded as its 'bad characters'. These were men who went absent and deserted, caught or concealed VD, got drunk and fought their comrades, who stole, malingered, behaved insolently toward officers or committed more serious offences, including rape and murder.

This frank history--the first book on the AIF's indiscipline--shows that it became one of the war's most effective fighting forces in spite of its record for military misbehaviour. Stanley exposes, with a wealth of examples drawn from court-martial files and soldiers' letters, how the war turned some men into criminals, but also how bad characters made the AIF the superb force it was.


The Good and the
The AIF in Cairo Australians criticised Civilians in uniform Anzac Criminals in the AIF

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About the author (2010)

Dr Peter Stanley migrated with his family from Britain aged ten in 1966. He has become Australia's leading military-social historian, the author of twenty books, including Tarakan: an Australian Tragedy, White Mutiny: British Military Culture in India 1825-75, For Fear of Pain: British Surgery 1790-1850, Quinn's Post, Anzac, Gallipoli, Invading Australia: Japan and the Battle for Australia, 1942 and A Stout Pair of Boots: a Guide to Exploring Australia's Battlefields. He is also the author of Command to Colditz (Murdoch Books, 2009). Peter worked for the Australian War Memorial from 1980 to 2007, where he was Principal Historian, and is now Director of the Centre for Historical Research at the National Museum of Australia, Canberra.

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