An acknowledged classic of military history, Anzac to Amiens is compelling and compulsory reading for every Australian interested in the nation's bloody coming of age.
Charles Edwin Woodrow Bean was born in Bathurst, NSW, in 1879. An Oxford graduate in law, he soon turned to writing and joined the Sydney Morning Herald as a reporter in 1908. His researches on the wool industry resulted in his classic account of outback life On the Wool Track, which was published in 1910. At the outbreak of the First World War in 1914, Bean was appointed war correspondent with the Australian Imperial Force and spent the five years of the war in Europe. In addition to filling countless notebooks with descriptions, interviews and impressions of that time, Bean stayed on after the war to study the relics of battle and learnt, as historian Patsy Adam-Smith has remarked, "those things that the soldiers could not know while hostilities were taking place." On his return to Australia in 1919 Bean commenced the enormous task of editing the Official History of Australia in the War of 1914-18, the twelfth and final volume of which was published in 1942. Bean was instrumental in establishing the Australian War Memorial, which opened in 1941, and was its guiding spirit between the wars. Much honoured in his lifetime for his contribution to Australian military history, Bean died in 1968.