Wild Dog Books
- ISBN13: 9781742036427
Sometimes a book comes along that just has the most profound impact on you, as a reader and, in this case, also as an avid history nerd.
Louise Park’s new publication is just such a book. In the sort of way that makes one tingle – not to mention, well up with tears and feel every emotion as intensely as if one were there with the protagonist, I was unable to put it down once I picked it up.
In an utterly remarkable piece of family history, Louise’s grandfather was in fact the ‘last man out’ of Gallipoli, in that extraordinary and quite astonishing military exercise that saw the evacuation of about 36, 000 troops from the peninsula battleground, and created the stuff of legend, becoming Australia’s turning point as a nation (in my opinion).
Louise’s family, of course, has always known this fact and there have been other accounts of John Alexander Park’s role, from military historians, but this new book represents such an intensely personal labour of love and family pride that it will be hard to go past – particularly for younger readers. I predict that all readers, young or old, will be completely enthralled with each piece of the shared recount.
English-born Park was a veteran of the Afghan War, and the Boxer Uprising before settling in Australia and in 1915, aged 36 and a hardened veteran, signed up for the Australian Army and then arrived at Gallipoli.
Louise has taken her grandfather’s diary entries and letters, and combined with other primary documents, reconstructed the essence, the terror, the pain and the spirit of those last days in one of history’s most ill-fated and ill-conceived military endeavours. It’s not a long book – less than 100 pages – but it is both powerful and moving, and I can assure you that your readers from mid-primary right up to secondary will be transfixed with this.
With ANZAC Day approaching rapidly, this is the new ‘must have’ for your collection. I go as far as recommending that your schools buy a class set. It will never be considered anything but a valuable addition, you can trust me on this point. Narrative non-fiction is always a prime area of interest for young readers and in this context, one of the most iconic events in our collective history, even more so.
Just as children for decades now have been thrilled and moved by the story of Simpson and his donkey, they will now be as moved and impressed with John Park’s history, particularly with the addition of first-hand/primary material (including photos). In addition, the stylish and elegant presentation of this book is absolutely first rate, and the use of the khaki shades a brilliant strategy.
My absolute highest recommendation for this book, which is both a valuable historical record and a testament to a granddaughter’s love. Thank you Louise Park for allowing me to read and share this. It is magnificent!
John Alexander Park – I salute you.