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'Utterly compelling in its candour and humanity.' Mike Carlton

A deeply personal, fast paced and insightful account of Cantwell’s life in the Australian Army. He commanded at the very highest levels and fought on the front line in both Gulf Wars and as recently as 2010, where he was the General in charge of Australian forces in Afghanistan. Like David Finkel’s The Good Soldiers it will take us onto the ground and into the daily demands and horrors experienced by those at the ‘decisive point’ of the fighting. As a young man from a large family, John Cantwell joined the Australian Army at 17 as a Private and rose to become a General. The page turning action of his book will be laced through with his insightful descriptions of his personal struggle over decades with post-traumatic stress disorder. Major-General Cantwell will describe his experiences in major wars and conflicts involving Australia over the past 20 years. He will talk about losing soldiers ‘entrusted’ to his care.


This is a valuable book—and a limited number of books are valuable in this way.

Gerard Windsor, The Saturday Age

Cantwell never fails to convey a sense of the heroic in his soldiers. His pride in the troops is unwavering.

Portia Lindsay, The Weekend Australian

This well-written, highly readable account...is a chronicle of Australia's recent involvement in world conflicts and how our soldiers suffered...

Michael Roser, Chronicle

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Formats & editions

  • Trade Paperback


    October 1, 2012

    Melbourne University Press

    388 pages

    RRP $34.99

    Online retailers

    • Abbey's Bookshop
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    • Robinsons Bookshop

    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.org.au

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