The Second World War was a dominant experience in Australian history. For the first time the country faced the threat of invasion. The economy and society were mobilised to an unprecedented degree, with 550 000 men and women, or one in twelve of a population of over 7 million, serving in the armed forces overseas. Social patterns and family life were disrupted. Politically, the war gave a new legitimacy to the Australian Labor Party which had been confined to the wilderness of the Opposition at the Federal level for most of the inter-war years. The powers of the Federal government increased and a new momentum for social reform was generated at the popular and governmental level. In the international sphere, the war fundamentally shook Australian confidence in the power on which it had relied for generations, Great Britain. It generated a sense of independence in Australian foreign policy and initiated a new, if halting and problematic, realignment towards the United States.
In this accessible book Joan Beaumont, Kate Darian-Smith, David Lee, David Lowe, Marnie Haig-Muir, Roy Hay and David Walker consider the range of Australia's experience of this conflict. In a single volume they draw together the many aspects of the war and distil the current state of historical scholarship.
Australia's War 1939-45 will be invaluable to tertiary students and of enormous interest to the reader concerned with the social, political and military history of Australia. A companion volume on the First World War is also available.