Home' Ausmarine : February 2010 Contents THE LAST WHALE
By CHRIS PASH
It is generally said, and very reasonably so,
that the winners write the history of wars.
In the worldwide war against whaling the
victors, clearly, were the anti-whaling side.
Irrespective of whether you were pro or
anti-whaling, this makes for a most
interesting and instructive book. This book is
a classic of political and public campaigning.
It describes, in great detail, one battle in the world-wide war
against whaling that took up much of the 1990s and 1980s. The
particular battle was against Australia's last commercial whaling
operation conducted by Cheynes Beach Whaling Company near
Albany in the south of Western Australia.
It's a detailed and quite remarkably fair account of a fascinating
battle. While it has many other values, probably the most
important is its description of how a comparatively small group of
passionate people turned around the public opinion of a whole
country. It can be done.
Available from Fremantle Press, Fremantle, Australia.
MTB Flotilla at War
A Thrilling Account of Torpedo Boat
Action in the North Sea
By PETER DICKENS
Probably most wartime leaders have had
to put up with equipment failure rates of
50 per cent.
However, those rates of attrition were
particularly wearing on a 25 year old lieutenant in the Royal Navy
in the otherwise glamorous role of commanding officer of a flotilla
of fast torpedo boats.
The author had no recent naval doctrine to work on when he
commenced his appointment. Nelsonian tactics seemed to be his
biggest aid. Nevertheless, despite many frustrations and some
tragic casualties, his flotilla and its associates achieved some very
positive results. The "go at 'em" approach seems to have worked.
They also, as this excellent and exciting book describes,
developed appropriate and useful tactics and doctrine for war
fighting in narrow and shallow seas. It is tragic, then, that the
Royal Navy and so many of its allies have since completely wasted
those expensively learnt lessons.
Available from Seaforth Publishing, Barnsley, UK.
THE MAN WHO STOLE THE CYPRUS
A True Story of Escape
By WARWICK HIRST
Having sheltered himself one icy Easter, in
Tasmania's remote Recherche Bay, your
reviewer is familiar with the scene of the
crime described in this excellent book.
An ideal place, particularly in 1829, in
which to steal a ship and maroon its crew,
marines and passengers. The piracy itself was remarkable enough,
even more was the cirum-Pacific voyage that followed.
The author describes the grim penal colony of Tasmania very
well. He is particularly colourful in his descriptions of the
punishment outposts of Maquarie Harbour and Port Arthur, both
horribly forbidding places. It is no wonder that convicts were
inspired to escape from them.
It is a fascinating story very well told.
Available from Rosenberg Publishing, Dural, Australia.
THE VOYAGES OF CAPTAIN COOK
101 Questions and Answers about
the Explorer and his Three Great
By ANTHONY CORNISH
James Cook was Britain's and probably the
world's most successful and famous
maritime explorer. He touched, charted,
recorded and even "discovered" parts of
all the continents. His twelve years of voyaging touched much
of the globe.
This useful little book takes a very interesting approach to the
study of Cook's achievements. The question and answer approach
breaks the history into easily digestible and memorable chunks. It
also includes a very useful bibliography.
A real good summary of the work of Cook. The fact that he did
and achieved so much makes it difficult to recall all that Cook
contributed to the modern world. This book certainly helps the
reader to do so.
Available from Conway, London, UK. Web: www.anovabooks.com
THE LETTERS OF GEORGE
AND ELIZABETH BASS
By MIRIAM ESTENSEN
The young British naval surgeon George
Bass was one of the heroes of early
Exploration and the acclaim and
adulation that arose from it were all very
well but Bass sought fortune as well. This,
tragically, led to his disappearance and
presumed untimely death.
This classic tale is told movingly and well using the fortuitously
preserved letters between Bass and his young wife Elizabeth. Sadly
George and Elizabeth were only to spend three months together in
England before he returned to Sydney and, some two years later,
She was an enthusiastic and careful correspondent, he less so.
Nevertheless, their letters reflect the intensity of their passion.
They also provide an incredibly detailed background to their lives
A fascinating history.
Available from Allen & Unwin, Sydney, Australia.
STRANGERS ON THE SHORE
Early Coastal Contacts in Australia
Edited by PETER VETH, PETER SUTTON
and MARGO NEALE
Most modern Australians have, thanks to
their secondary education, an at least
fleeting familiarity with the explorers
Cook, Tasman and Flinders.
Ask them, however, about Janzoon, Torres
or even Boudin and you'll mostly draw a blank. The fact is that most
Australian history has been English centric. This, despite the fact, that
there are worthwhile records extant of Dutch contact going back as far
This very useful and well researched collection of essays was
produced to commemorate the four centuries of recorded
European contact with the land now known as Australia and its
While sometimes a touch politically correct in tone, the essays
still provide a very valuable service in collating an enormous
amount of information, from both sides, about the development
of Aboriginal-European contact and conflict.
The notes and references in each case are invaluable.
Available from the National Museum of Australia. Canberra, Australia.
February 2010 AUSMARINE
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