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This is my first book by Peter FitzSimons and it is magnificent! Full of well researched detail while still capturing the human elements of what is an epic but somewhat unknown story. Will have any Australian swelling with pride at endurance and bravery of bunch of "second" rate soldiers, who were badly supplied, treated and misunderstood by their high command even while they successfully fought, outnumbered, against the undefeated masters of jungle fighting in one of the worst places on earth.
The failure in the narrative to distinguish between Papua and New Guinea. It keeps regularly referring to the Highlands with regard to Kokoda, Popondetta, Buna, Gona ,Which are in the Northern District of Papua. To day its The Northern Provence of Papua New Guinea. For me it detracts from the Story ; Having lived in Popondetta for Two years as the Commonwealth of Australia's Treasury, Transport Officer in the early 1970s.
I have read and watched much on Gallipoli but so little on Kakoda. Thank you Peter for correcting this imbalance with this book which was a great and 'easy ' read and so wonderfully summed up in the 'Epilogue' and 'Afterword' 😀
This book serves to provide the reader with an incredible account of the Australian war effort in PNG. The vivid detail of events and the personal story of the gutsy diggers there, and back home, leaves the reader feeling like you are there with them, through the triumphs and the horrifying reality of life (and death) at war. This book is recommended to all Australians and any person who's interested in WWII.
I have already read Peter Fitzsimons' "Tobruk" and found it excellent. My father was a Rat of Tobruk and also served in New Guinea. The author of "Kokoda" has captured the horrific conditions under which the men who were fighting in the New Guinea jungle. His descriptions are so vivid I had at times to take a break from reading the book as he descibed the harrowing death and wounding of the very young men. I was shocked at the fact that the men fought with dwindling ammunition, little food, no shelter and constant tension as the Japanese Army threatened to overwhelm them. I was in awe of the men's stoicism as they were constantly weakened by dysentery yet still had to cope with the extremely rough country, the rain and the mud. Peter Fitzsimons' ability to balance the overall story with the individual experiences of some of the soldiers allowed me to identify closely with the men and made the story of Kokoda very real. He was also able to give insight into the powerful mateship these young soldiers developed with each other and how that mateship allowed individuals to become heroes.
I recommend this book highly and suggest strongly also reading "Tobruk". I found the contrasts between the desert warfare and the jungle warfare fascinating. Both were awful.
Told the story beautifully. Highlighted the failures by the so called leaders of the defence force and the sacrifices of the soldiers. Makes me proud of our fighting men and women whilst hoping beyond hope that we never ask the same of them again.