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Bully Beef and Balderdash Some Myths of the AIF Examined and Debunked by [Wilson, Graham]
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Bully Beef and Balderdash Some Myths of the AIF Examined and Debunked Kindle Edition

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Kindle Edition, Mar 21 2012
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Length: 699 pages Word Wise: Enabled

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Product Description

Product Description

Was Beersheba the last great cavalry charge in history? Did the AIF storm the red light district of Cairo and burn it to the ground while fighting running battles with the military police? Was the AIF the only all-volunteer army of World War I? Graham Wilson’s Bully Beef and Balderdash shines a critical light on these and other well-known myths of the AIF in World War I, arguing that these spectacular legends simply serve to diminish the hard-won reputation of the AIF as a fighting force.

Wilson asserts that the story of the AIF is extraordinary in its own right, its fighting record so well established that there has never been a need to embellish that story. However, as Bully Beef demonstrates, the history of the AIF has become so shrouded in misinformation that what is now generally accepted as ‘history’ is often little more than myth and legend.

Did the men of the Light Horse shoot their horses rather than see them sold off to the hated ‘Gippos’? Was Alfred Gaby VC’s eerie studio portrait actually taken after his death? Did the AIF fight the war on an unrelieved diet of bully beef and
biscuits? Wilson painstakingly examines a number of myths associated with the AIF, some cherished and well seasoned others obscure and even whimsical.

With meticulous, at times forensic analysis, he sets out to debunk these myths,
using a range of first-hand accounts and official records to unravel the facts and set the historical record straight. Were Catholics in the AIF denied the VC because of their religion? Was Gallipoli an intelligence failure?

Graham Wilson mounts his own campaign to rehabilitate the historical reputation of the force free from hyperbole and jingoism to demonstrate that misleading and inaccurate embellishment does nothing but hide the true story of
Australia’s World War I fighting army.

Bully Beef and Balderdash deliberately targets some revered legends and, for those who cherish the mythical story of the AIF, this will be uncomfortable but essential reading. Yet, given the extraordinary truth of the AIF’s history, it is
certainly compelling reading.

Product Details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 7287 KB
  • Print Length: 699 pages
  • Publisher: Big Sky Publishing (March 21 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B007NA9NHG
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #806,430 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0xa30549c0) out of 5 stars 7 reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa2e0d498) out of 5 stars A long-overdue corrective May 27 2012
By Morfydd - Published on
An excellent book, painstakingly researched and documented. I have always thought that the great achievements of the AIF speak for themselves and need no boastful, inaccurate boosting to receive the credit and respect due them. Especially pernicious has been the habit of Australian journalists and commentators in boosting Australian military successes by deprecating others, particularly British troops, or ignoring them completely,(the French and almost every other Allied force in the Great War).
Graham Wilson demolishes such myths as;Australians natural aptitude for soldiering, the cult of the bushman-soldier, propagated by Charles Bean, historian of Australia in WW1, the AIF as the sole volunteer force and the Light Horse at Beersheba making the last cavalry charge.
In particular, the leading role of British and French(among others) contingents at Gallipoli is described.
While doing so, no disrespect is intended or shown, but the AIF'S position as,inevitably, a small part of the British Empire forces,5 out of almost 60 divisions, and a total Allied strength of around 200 divisions on the Western Front, is put into perspective. Inexperience and a non-militaristic outlook and tradition meant that the AIF had to experience the learning curve common to all forces from a British style social and political background. That the AIF achieved what they did is all the more to their credit, without any need of the exaggerated myths and excessive claims made on their behalf, by jingoistic journalists and historians.
We also need an author who will highlight the proportion of United Kingdom-born and first generation English, Scots, Irish and Welsh volunteers in the 1ST AIF, if only to show how spurious are the distinctions often drawn,in a particularly boastful way, between Australian and British troops in the first world war.
Respect is due to all troops who helped defeat aggressive and militaristic Germany in 1918, whatever their country of origin, while of course honoring those from this country, who heeded the call, and sacrificed much, but as ordinary men at arms, not as mythological heroes.
HASH(0xa33e8948) out of 5 stars A Pedantic Pongo's Account of Balderdash June 11 2016
By Andy Wilson - Published on
At 601 pages, this tome is the most tedious, repetitious, pedantic, overstated account of the First AIF I have ever encountered. Some of the "myths" debunked are of a trivial nature and little-known. For example, those concerning Chaplain Major William McKenzie "Fighting Mac", the so-called "Dead Man Standing" stemming from a photograph of Lieutenant Alfred Edward Gaby, VC, supposedly taken posthumously and "Great-Grandad was a Catholic and didn't get a VC", scarcely warrant any mention in any serious discussion of the subject. The book suffers from a lack of editing owing to the inclusion of page after page of particulars such as formations, ration scales, civilian occupations of enlistees and even non-AIF VC winners along with much tiresome repetition of nearly every topic covered. What stuck in my craw is Wilson's tendency to be infer that but for the significant incidence of UK migrants in the First AIF, it would not and could not have performed as well, militarily, as it did. Further, he comes across to me as overly in awe of the British Army and its leadership and style. Perhaps the most persistent myth he failed to address was that of the standing and role of General (later Field Marshall) William Birdwood - the "Soul of Anzac" - as GOC First AIF. Birdwood was held in scant regard, even disdain by many of those having sufficient rank in the AIF to have observed him from a purely military perspective. His popularity resided mainly in the rank and file of the AIF owing to his strenuous efforts to be seen "among the men" and copious amounts of "idle flattery" regarded as pure bulls*** by the likes even of Bean. I found very useful and interesting information in the book but succeeded only in "finishing" it by much self-editing by way of skipping the repetition and over-stated facts mounted to support Wilson's argument.
HASH(0xa2e8c714) out of 5 stars Military buffs will be challenged Jan. 21 2013
By Greenfingers - Published on
Verified Purchase
This will really have you challenging your opinions of the effecacy of our early military encounters. The book is meticulously researched, even to the point of tedium at times with vast lists of the units in battle and how many did this or that. I was gob-smacked at the tenacity of the aurthor. I bet he does not get invited to too many RSL nights. Anyhow a good read for any ex-service guys and gals. Cheers Greenfingers
HASH(0xa307fa68) out of 5 stars Interesting Nov. 17 2012
By Jetpack - Published on
Verified Purchase
The author lays out a ton of myths about the Australians in WWI, under the premise that they don't need them, and provides tons of information. It's a bit overwhelming, but interesting stuff. I didn't know that Newfoundland had their own troops in WWI.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa2ff7dbc) out of 5 stars lost interest Nov. 6 2012
By Ilbob - Published on
Verified Purchase
I got this for free a few weeks ago because it sounded interesting. I read 14% and just couldn't take it anymore.

History does not have to be boring, in fact, it is often fascinating, but this book (at least the part I read) just was unable to keep my interest. I had hoped for a telling of the story and a contrast between the truth and the mythology, but the author never really got there.

It purports to refute a number of myths regarding the Australian forces that served in WWI. I lost interest after scanning through page after page of lists of units and types of jobs the recruits held prior to joining. To me those kind of things belong in an appendix where it does not mess with the story.

Then it claimed the Boston tea party was mostly a myth as it was really about smugglers being mad at the tax on tea being reduced. While there is actually some truth to that, the author lost a lot of credibility with me by flat out suggesting that was the primary reason. It was a complicated situation that cannot be dismissed so easily.

The author seems to have some kind of point he is trying to make, but he beats around the bush so much trying to make the point that I lost interest.

So, as is my practice with books I start and just don't have the interest in finishing, it gets one star.