Volume II – The Government and the People, 1942–1945 (1st edition, 1970)

Author: Hasluck, Paul Meernaa Caedwalla

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This is the second of two volumes on political events in Australia during the 1939–45 War. The narrative in this volume extends from the entry of Japan into the war until the surrender in August 1945. Thus it covers the period when Australia stood in greatest danger and when the Australian war effort reached its peak.

During all except the last few months of this period John Curtin was Prime Minister of Australia, and, in large part, the history is a record of his wartime administration and provides the background for the study of his leadership in crisis.

During this period, too, the United States of America became an ally and American forces were based in Australia. Besides dealing with the immediate problems arising from these facts, the Australian Government also found itself faced with the special difficulty of being one of the smaller nations in a global war for which the strategy was determined by three great powers, and in which the allocation of forces and materials was decided by inter-Allied bodies on which Australia was not directly represented.

At the same time there were domestic, political, social and industral problems at home. The study of a nation attempting to mobilise a total war effort both to ensure its own survival and to contribute to a common cause reveals both sources of strength and causes of weakness.