Bad Characters: Sex, Crime, Murder and Mutiny in the Great War
In Bad Characters military historian Peter Stanley surveys indiscipline in the Australian Imperial Force, on a spectrum ranging from bludging and dumb insolence, though malingering and shirking, to military offences going beyond the force s celebrated larrikinism. He tells of soldiers who committed offences ranging from the endemic going absent to desertion and a small number of serious civil crimes culminating in several murders. The AIF s discipline encompassed serious riots and strikes, ending in the disbandment mutinies of 1918. Its indiscipline did not end in 1919, but continued while the force was repatriated to Australia, and continued in folklore and anecdote into the peace. Little to nothing has been published about the AIF s dark side about how war made men into criminals; how men let themselves and their mates down by going absent or wounding themselves. Little has been told about riots and protests, or of the toll exacted by venereal disease that afflicted so many. In Bad Characters Peter Stanley decides to face the bad. We learn things about the AIF that many may wish they did not know. But we will also understand more about the men of the AIF, the society they came from, and the war that changed or ended the lives of so many.
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