The Great Betrayal: Britain, Australia and the Onset of the Pacific War, 1939-42

David Day, Author W. W. Norton & Company $19.95 (388p) ISBN 978-0-393-02685-6
In an important addition to the growing body of scholarship defining disunity among the Allies in World War II, Day ( Menzies and Churchill at War ) explores Britain's reluctance to fulfill its defense guarantees to Australia in the early years of the war. He describes the shocked reactions of Australian leaders on learning that British prime minister Churchill did not seem to consider their country worth saving. Analyzing the Australians' dual allegiance and longtime dependence on the mother country, the author maintains that it was difficult for the Canberra government to act independently even in the face of imminent Japanese invasion. Prime Minister John Curtin finally recalled the troops fighting under British command in North Africa, only to be dealt another insult when Churchill almost succeeded in diverting the convoy to the Burma campaign. According to Day, the Australians could not bring themselves to acknowledge the fact of their abandonment by Britain, even as they ``scrambled with undue and undignified haste'' for the temporary protective cover of the United States. Photos. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 04/01/1989
Release date: 04/01/1989
Genre: Nonfiction
Discover what to read next