As Anzac Day is upon us again, this will be the 103rd year of commemoration since 1921, the first Australian public holiday specifically gazetted in remembrance of our ANZACs (our friends in New Zealand celebrated Anzac Day as a public holiday one year earlier). Although this day was originally created to honour members of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps who served in the Gallipoli campaign and their first engagement in the Great War (later known as the First World War), this day also celebrates other members of the armed forces who have served overseas.

While there have been Australian plays, TV and films celebrating Anzac Day (e.g. The One Day of the Year, Anzac Girls, Gallipoli) it is books that have explored the depths and reverberations of the Anzac spirit most thoroughly. Here are some notable examples from Australia and overseas:

My Brother Jack by George Johnston

David and Jack Meredith grow up in a patriotic suburban Melbourne household during the First World War and go on to lead lives that could not be more different.

Fly Away Peter by David Malouf

A cast of wildly different characters, united by a love of birds, come together on the coast of Australia in 1914. Their avian idyll is soon disturbed as war rips through Europe, irrevocably changing and challenging their lives.


Gallipoli by Peter Fitzsimons

Peter FitzSimons, with his trademark vibrancy and expert melding of writing and research, recreates the disaster as experienced by those who endured it or perished in the attempt.

The Regeneration Trilogy by Pat Barker

This award-winning trilogy, comprising Regeneration, The Eye in the Door and The Ghost Road, is the heart-rending story of the last two years of the First World War seen through the eyes of an army psychologist and a damaged soldier.

Goodbye to All That by Robert Graves

This account of a poet’s life, from his childhood and his desperately unhappy school days to his time serving as a young officer in the First World War.

All Quiet on the Western Front (B0101)

A young German soldier enlists in World War I with his friends, full of enthusiasm and patriotism. But soon, he faces the horrors of the trenches, where death, disease, and despair lurk at every corner.

Into the Unknown by Ian Trafford

World War I (and its aftermath) in the words of a young soldier fresh off a remote New Zealand farm, written with immediacy, emotion and clarity.

A Month in the Country (B0783)

A damaged survivor of the First World War finds refuge in a quiet village church where he spends the summer uncovering a medieval wall-painting. Immersed in the peace and beauty of the countryside and the unchanging rhythms of village life he experiences a sense of renewal and belief in the future.


What do you think? Are there other novels and non-fiction books about the First World War that you would recommend?