a bastard of a place

A Bastard of a Place: Unveiling the Epic Saga of Australians in Papua and Kokoda


In the vast landscape of military history, few narratives capture the essence of sacrifice, valor, and determination as vividly as “A Bastard of a Place” by Peter Brune. This bestselling book offers a compelling narrative of the Australian involvement in the Pacific theatre during World War II, focusing on the pivotal battles that forever changed the course of history. Let’s delve into the pages of this well-researched tome and explore its significance in the context of the Kokoda Track and other crucial campaigns in Papua New Guinea.

The Prelude: Australians in Papua – Gona and the Kokoda Campaign

As the Japanese threat loomed in 1942, Australia found itself facing a perilous situation. “A Bastard of a Place” opens with an exploration of the early stages of World War II, highlighting the Australian military’s efforts to protect its own positions in Papua New Guinea. The book meticulously details the events leading up to 1942, providing a comprehensive overview of the geopolitical landscape at the time.

The Five Battles that Changed Australia Forever

Brune’s narrative unfolds with a focus on the five battles that undeniably altered the course of Australian history. From the shores of Milne Bay to the rugged terrain of Kokoda, and the challenging fronts of Gona, Buna, and Sanananda, the book provides an all-encompassing story of the sacrifices made by Australian forces. These battles, often considered as the ragged bloody heroes’ defining moments, are explored in vivid detail, showcasing the resilience and courage of the soldiers who fought to protect their sacred ground.

Generals MacArthur and Blamey: Commanders in the Pacific Theatre

Central to the story is the role of Generals MacArthur and Blamey, whose decisions shaped the outcome of the Pacific campaign. “A Bastard of a Place” critically examines the high command’s strategies, shedding light on the complexities of military leadership during the challenging times of 1942 and early 1943 in Papua New Guinea. The book goes beyond the battlefield, exploring the political dynamics and the sacrifices made by senior Australian commanders.

The Scapegoats and the Restoration of Milne Bay

In the aftermath of the battles, the narrative resonates with the voices of both the well-trained AIF volunteers and the leaders who faced the consequences of their decisions. The book reveals how some were unfairly scapegoated to protect the reputation of high-ranking officials. It delves into the sacrifices made by those who fought valiantly and were later vindicated, as Milne Bay was restored to its rightful place beside Kokoda.

A Compelling Narrative of Sacrifice and Brotherhood

Brune’s writing style brings the stories of these battles to life, offering a compelling narrative that resonates with the emotions and experiences of the soldiers. The book goes beyond the tactical aspects of war, presenting a human side to the conflict. The author skilfully weaves together the voices of the soldiers, creating a gripping tale of a band of brothers who fought a war not only for victory but also for the spirit of Les Allen.

Damien’s Spell: The Bestselling Saga Continues

“A Bastard of a Place” stands as the best book ever written about the Aussie battles in Papua, securing its place as a bestselling masterpiece. Peter Brune, having also written the bestselling Gallipoli book, brings his expertise to the fore, offering a valuable read for anyone interested in Australian military history. The narrative extends beyond the Kokoda Track, encompassing the entire Pacific War and leaving an indelible mark on the historical account of Australia’s involvement in World War II.

Conclusion: A Timely Reminder of Sacrifice and Valour

As we conclude our exploration of “A Bastard of a Place,” it is evident that Peter Brune’s work is a timely reminder that, despite the warmest alliances, the sacrifices made by Australian forces in Papua cannot be understated. The book serves as a valuable resource for students of the Pacific War, offering a well-researched and comprehensive critique of the events that unfolded on Australian soil during 1942 and early 1943. “A Bastard of a Place” undeniably stands as a testament to the resilience, heroism, and spirit of the Australians who fought in the defining battles that changed the course of history.

Q: What is the book “A Bastard of a Place” about?

A: The book is an all-encompassing story of the five battles fought by Australian forces in Papua, New Guinea in World War II. It details the defense of Australia’s sacred ground and the heroic efforts of the soldiers who protected their own positions in the face of the Japanese invasion.

Q: Who is the author of the book?

A: The author is Peter Brune, who is known for his well-researched books on the Second World War in the Pacific, particularly focusing on the Australian forces’ experiences.

Q: What makes the book a compelling read?

A: The book offers a highly recommended and compelling narrative that resonates with the experiences of the soldiers who sacrificed many to restore Milne Bay and the Kokoda Trail to their rightful place in history.

Q: Is the book focused solely on the Australian forces?

A: Yes, the book primarily focuses on the Australian forces’ experiences, offering a detailed account of their actions and sacrifices in Papua, New Guinea during 1942 and early 1943.

Q: What is the significance of the title “A Bastard of a Place”?

A: The title reflects the challenging and harsh conditions faced by the Australian soldiers in Papua, New Guinea, often referred to as a “bastard of a place” by the soldiers themselves.

Q: Where can I find a map of the locations mentioned in the book?

A: The book includes a map that helps readers visualize the locations and terrain where the events took place, adding context to the narrative.

Q: Who would benefit from reading the book?

A: The book is recommended for anyone interested in the experiences of men at war, particularly for students studying the history of the Second World War in the Pacific and the role of the Australian forces.

Q: What is the style of writing in the book?

A: The book is written in a compelling and magnificently detailed style, immersing readers in the ragged, bloody heroism of the Australian forces as they defended against the Japanese forces.

Q: Does the book offer insights into the broader context of the war?

A: Yes, the book also delves into the high command decisions, the actions of the US forces, and the impact on civilian populations, providing a comprehensive portrayal of the events.

Q: How does the book relate to the ANZAC legacy?

A: The book pays homage to the ANZAC spirit and the actions of the Australian and New Zealand forces, highlighting their courage and sacrifices in the defence of their territory during World War II.

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