My Gallipoli gets rave review in The Australian

"My Gallipoli" reviewed by Stephen Romei in The Weekend Australian, April 25, 2015.

Ruth's new book My Gallipoli was reviewed in The Weekend Australian on Anzac Day, recommended as one of the best books on the subject for children.

"Ruth Starke’s My Gallipoli, a collaboration with celebrated Australian artist Robert Hannaford, is the most sophisticated and complete of the books discussed here. It’s longer at 48 pages (the others are 32) and contains more text, so is aimed at the 10-plus age group — though there’s no reason for younger children not to read it. They will learn a lot if they do.

"On the opening page we meet Adil Sakin, a Turkish shepherd. It is November 1914. Within weeks he will be a soldier. “It sounds more exciting than looking after sheep, and of course I want to defend our village and my country. This land has belonged to us for hundreds of years and we will fight for it. This Peninsula is my Gelibolu.’’ So from the outset we hear the Turkish side of the story, which is important I think. Later we meet Turkish soldiers and their revered commander, Lieutenant-Colonel Mustafa Kemal. There’s no political message, just a fair account of the war from both sides.


"This richly detailed book covers the action of the campaign and the participants. We hear the stories of Australian, New Zealand and Turkish soldiers, nurses, chaplains, Gurkha and Aboriginal troops, Indian Mule Cart Corps drivers, war artists and war correspondents. We meet Charles Bean, George Lambert and sniper Billy Sing. The devastating losses inflicted on New Zealand troops at Chunuk Bair in August 1915 receive lengthy treatment: “The earth was red with blood.’’

"Each story ends with a version of the refrain, 'This is my Gallipoli.' Hannaford’s beautiful artworks add a dimension of their own, one that deepens the text. His portrait of fresh-faced, half-smiling Sing is a superb example. It’s based on the well-known photograph of the part-Chinese soldier. Look closely and you see something uncertain behind those eagle eyes.

"My Gallipoli extends the story to its aftermath, including the gruesome work of the Graves Registration Unit.'At first I thought the land was covered with a layer of melting snow,' says Lieutenant Cyril Hughes. 'And then we approached and saw that over the former trenches lay the bare white bones of those who had fought and fallen there three years ago. In ­places the bones were so thickly spread we had to tread on them as we passed,'."

To read the full article, click here.

To read more about My Gallipoli, including more reviews, click here.

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