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Forgotten War

4.27  ·  Rating details ·  191 ratings  ·  27 reviews
Australia is dotted with memorials to soldiers who fought in wars overseas. Why are there no official memorials or commemorations of the wars that were fought on Australian soil between Aborigines and white colonists? Why is it more controversial to talk about the frontier war now than it was one hundred years ago? Forgotten War continues the story told in Henry Reynolds’ ...more
Paperback, 280 pages
Published 2013 by NewSouth Publishing
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Average rating 4.27  · 
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 ·  191 ratings  ·  27 reviews

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Steve lovell
Aug 17, 2013 rated it really liked it
It struck a chord when the reviewer of this book for Melbourne’s ‘The Age’ newspaper, Raymond Evans, cited that the main street of a Queensland provincial town was derived from an Aboriginal word meaning ‘plenty dead’, being close to a site of frontier violence where the First Australians came off second best. It reminded me of how incensed I was when I discovered, through reading James Boyce’s fine history ‘Van Diemen’s Land’, that the main street of another provincial town, one in which I had ...more
S.B. Wright
Oct 11, 2014 rated it really liked it
I read Anzac’s Long Shadow earlier in the year and found it to be a critical and refreshing look at aspects of Australia’s military history and the detrimental or skewing effect that our martial myths have on both our soldiers and the collective consciousness and culture of the Australian people.

Forgotten War is similarly a book that looks at our forgotten war(s) (the only ones fought on Australian soil for control of it) and our cultural amnesia in relation to it. If I can crudely sum up an Aus
Andrew Carr
Apr 26, 2020 rated it it was ok
Read Reynold's 'Other side of the Frontier' instead. Other than some discussion of new studies by other scholars, there is little that is new in this book. Instead, there is a notable and - to my mind somewhat disconcerting - shift from discussing the frontier as a genuine war (with back and forth, faults and suffering on both sides) to a more legalistic and ethical mindset that downplays the agency and choices of the aboriginal resistance.

Reynold has little understanding of the concept of war.
Steve Bidwell-Brown
Apr 17, 2016 rated it really liked it
There is a violence in Australia’s history that few are prepared to acknowledge, argues Henry Reynolds. The nation that venerates the Anzac for his war heroism also fails to recognise the Aboriginal Australians who perished fighting for their traditional homelands.

In Forgotten War, Reynolds discusses the numerous conflicts that took place on the continent between the 1790s and 1920s. Conservative estimates suggest that approximately 30 000 people died on the Australian frontier – 90% of whom wer
Emory Black
This book was hugely helpful. Reading it was an emotional rollercoaster. I was angry, frustrated, sad. I mourned the loss of those people whose land this was, I was sickened by what white Australians did. I finally felt like I had a tiny insight into the real history of Australia, into what was done. I have no idea how we could ever even begin to fix it.

In this book, Reynolds talks about not only the numbers of people killed in the war for Australia, but also of the nature of that war; the skirm
Feb 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Excellent last chapter is the kicker. Although I read it drunk so who knows really. If you want an overview of the colonial period then this is as good a place to start as any. Also incorporates some more recent issues such as the Mabo case and the political battle over remembrance.
Robert Heather
Jun 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing
A must read for anyone interested in Australian history, in all of its blood soaked gory glory.
Lisa Cuthbert-novak
Oct 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This book is a paradigm shift for many Australians, who might think they understand Australian history. It is well researched- logical - readable- powerful! Read it, "Lest We Forget"! ...more
Feb 09, 2015 rated it really liked it
An interesting book about the Australian frontier violence that had occurred between 1788 and the 1930s though you never know it could be going on for much longer. It is fully referenced and has many sources used within the book, which I find commendable. It is interesting to see what was happening in Australia though people are more likely to conveniently forget that many Aboriginals were shot in Australia than in other wars that Australia was involved in.

There was no treaty like in New Zealand
Oct 06, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Every person who lives on this part of land should read this. A fact driven unromanticised account and analysis of the interactions of early "settlement". He gives power back to the strive to consciously retain land and process of life that was totally corrupted, abused, and blatantly inherently and with racist intent both ambivalently and proactively deconstructed. Anyone who thinks Australia Day is a time of pride should probably take a realistic deep breath and delve into the spiteful, deceit ...more
Apr 23, 2015 rated it it was ok
Argumentative and defensive. That works if you want to immerse yourself in Australian history or more recent politics, but it is less useful if you want to spend time on what happened rather than on how to categorize or commemorate it.
David Hunt
Mar 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A masterful work that has helped crystallise my thinking on notions of war, conquest, sovereignty and genocide. Although I don't agree with all of Reynolds' conclusions in this and other works, Forgotten War is a must read for anyone passionate about Australian history. ...more
Peter Johnson
Apr 12, 2015 rated it really liked it
A very worthwhile read. Tries to make a difficult thesis concerning Australia's lack of recognition of its "war" of conquest against strong resistance by the Indigenous population. Yes, I agree it was a "war." ...more
Shares some very important history, but the structure is pretty haphazard, frequently revisiting questions and evidence that the chapter headings would suggest had already been addressed.
Aug 22, 2020 rated it liked it
A really interesting analysis of the conflict that occurred on the frontier. I have settled on 3/5 however as the structure was very frustrating to the point where it did a disservice to the content. The book is dense with facts, which I'm not opposed to, but I felt like Reynolds could have benefited from a harsher edit that focused on communicating those facts in a way that was more cohesive. The clearest example of this is in the 2nd to last chapter. The first few pages of that chapter seem en ...more
Julie S
Aug 10, 2020 rated it it was ok
This book has some interesting information but far too often, with a very thinly veiled attempt, follows the politically correct view point that white people are to blame for everything. The language used by Henry is very anti colonist in many places in this book.
Chris F
It took me a while to get fully into this as it took a while to fully understand the history of denying the frontier wars in 20th century Australia. However, once you get a clearer understanding this makes an interesting and powerful read.
Dec 12, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, library
Nearly as many Aboriginals and settlers died in our frontier wars as in WW2. And they were strategically far more important. And yet we forget.
Trevor Schaefer
Sep 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, history

This book is a passionate plea for the recognition of the many Aborigines who died defending their ancestral lands in Australia. The writer is, however, an experienced historian and he goes about the task with a dispassionate objectivity and attention to the sources. In his first chapter, “A distressing moment”, he describes a particular instance of conflict in Van Diemen’s Land in September 1831, and gives some illuminating quotes from the Launceston Advertiser of the time:
Are these unhappy cre
Peter Wark
Nov 17, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Informative and clear. A little more detail would have been valued.
Lucia Boxelaar
Jul 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
Very powerful in highlighting how our "national narrative became one of a hard and heroic fight against nature itself rather than one of ruthless spoliation and dispossession" ...more
T.S. Flynn
Oct 25, 2016 rated it did not like it
Absolute cods wallop!

The Black Line operation comprised of a mixed bag of convicts and soldiers in a 120 mile long daisy chain attempting to herd the local aboriginals onto a peninsula.

Any competent army officer will tell you that it would be impossible to retain command and control of such an operation even today, with radios and GPS. Inevitably chaos ensued.

Reynolds has clearly never commanded troops or devised or executed policy. He comes from a self selecting group of lofty academics who tak
Henry Reynolds provides a thought provoking argument on the frontier wars between the Australian aboriginals and the British settlers/soldiers. His argument of the deaths of at least 20,000 aboriginals and 2,000 whites should be recognised for what it was - a war, albeit a guerrilla engagement between two unequalled opponents. The cruelty of the whites showed no bounds and the ability of the establishment to support them remains a stain on Australia's history. I am glad I read this very importan ...more
Brian Sullivan
Apr 18, 2016 rated it really liked it
Beautifully written. While, there are some assertions I would have liked greater documentary support, we are reminded that until Federation racial conflict and guerrilla war by Aboriginals defending their land was not denied as part of Australia's history, unlike now. ...more
Jan 16, 2015 rated it really liked it
Compelling argument that Australia needs to recognise this important part of our history, and that the Australian War Memorial should recognise and include this. To do otherwise is continue to turn a blind eye to our indigenous people.
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Henry Reynolds is currently an ARC Senior Research Fellow at the University of Tasmania at Launceston. He was for many years at James Cook University in Townsville. He is the author of many well-known books including The Other Side of the Frontier, Law of the Land, Fate of a Free People and Why Weren’t We Told?

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