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Dando-Collins adroitly interweaves a compelling family history with the broader canvas of the Anzacs. Crack Hardy is a fine and important book.

Dando-Collins adroitly interweaves a compelling family history with the broader canvas of the Anzacs. Crack Hardy is a fine and important book.

This is the true story of three Australian soldiers, the Searle brothers. One brother was killed at Gallipoli, another on the Western Front. One came home a decorated hero. Viv, a gifted poet who was planning to be a clergyman before the war, became a deadly efficient sniper. Ray shot himself and was charged with desertion. Ned was a true Australian larrikin, up for anything, and the black sheep of the family. The Searle boys had to crack hardy, as they fought in one grueling campaign after another - from the first wave of the Gallipoli landings to Lone Pine, from Ypres to Messines and Hill 60 in Flanders, to bloody Somme battles at Mouquet Farm, Bullecourt, and Hamel, with their brothers and mates falling all around them.

Back home in an Australian country town, their mother, father, sisters and remaining brother also had to crack hardy, as the bad news from the front just kept coming, and coming. Told from the heart by the Searle brothers' great-nephew, award-winning author Stephen Dando-Collins using the letters and journals of the Searle brothers and remembrances of other family members, Crack Hardy is a compelling book that defines Australia and Australians during the making of our nation on the far-flung battlefields of the First World War.


“The narrative is copiously and meticulously documented, drawing throughout on a cache of family diaries, letters and photographs. Moreover, Dando-Collins pitches the story adeptly; the brother’s travails are recounted in a way which is not too sentimental, not unduly melodramatic, rarely overwritten.” – The Canberra Times

Formats & editions

  • Paperback


    April 2, 2012

    Vintage Australia

    400 pages

    RRP $19.99

    Online retailers

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    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.org.au

  • EBook


    April 1, 2011

    Random House Australia

    381 pages

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Also by Stephen Dando-Collins

Heroes of Hamel
Mr Showbiz
The Hero Maker: A Biography of Paul Brickhill
Caesar the War Dog 5: Operation Black Shark
Caesar the War Dog 4: Operation Green Parrot
Caesar the War Dog 3: Operation Pink Elephant
Tank Boys
Sir Henry Parkes: The Australian Colossus
Caesar the War Dog 2: Operation Blue Dragon
Mistaken Identity: The Trials of Joe Windred
Caesar the War Dog
Pasteur's Gambit
Captain Bligh's Other Mutiny


Ned Kelly
Heroes of Hamel
The Fatal Shore
Australians on the Western Front 1918 Volume I
Guns, Germs And Steel
The Vietnam War
Denny Day
Hitler's First Victims
Diggers, Hatters & Whores
In The Footsteps Of Private Lynch
You'll Never Take Me Alive
The Commonwealth Of Thieves
Caledonia Australis
The War in the West: A New History
Hillsborough Voices
Avenue Of Spies
24 Hours at Waterloo