Described as ‘a huge and highly accessible contribution to Australian political history’ (SMH), John Edwards’ magisterial biography of our greatest Prime Minister concludes with the events that shaped our future: the nation at war, our new relationship with the United States, and Curtin’s early death, just before victory.
The first volume of John Curtin’s War was recognized as ‘a landmark in Australian political biography’ (The Australian) and ‘remarkable’ (AFR).
That book ends with the fall of Singapore and a fundamental realignment of Australia’s place in the world: ‘The Americans were coming. So were the Japanese.’
This second volume, ‘Triumph and Decline’, tells the full, fascinating story of the next four years, as Curtin leads Australia in meeting its enemy and its new friend, the latter personified by the charismatic, self-certain General Douglas MacArthur. As Churchill abandons Australia and pursues a ‘Hitler first’ strategy, Curtin and MacArthur fight to ensure that the War in the Pacific is an American priority.
As the critical battles of the Coral Sea and Midway decide Australia’s fate – and Kakoda creates a new legend – Curtin’s resolute calm and implacable determination lift him beyond party conflicts to become ‘Australia’s leader’. But the outward strength disguises deteriorating health, and increasing doubt about the American alliance. Curtin determined Australia’s future – but what would it have been had he lived?
‘Triumph and Decline’ completes Edwards’ masterpiece and cements John Curtin’s place as our greatest of Prime Ministers.