Item #133543 Official History of Australia in the War, 1914-1918 [the complete twelve-volume set]. Charles Edwin Woodrow BEAN.

Official History of Australia in the War, 1914-1918 [the complete twelve-volume set]

Sydney, Angus and Robertson, 1923 (one volume), 1933 (two volumes), 1936 (one volume), 1937 (one volume), 1938 (four volumes), 1940 (two volumes) and 1942 (one volume). The fourth volume is the first edition of 1933, the sixth volume is the first and only edition of 1942, the twelfth volume is the first edition of 1923, and the others are mixed editions ranging from the second (Volume 8) to the tenth (Volume 3).

Octavo, twelve volumes, each approximately 700 pages with numerous maps plus plates.

Maroon cloth uniformly bright, but with a few minor signs of age and use (two volumes flecked, edges a little foxed or marked, with Volume 9 a little more heavily used); ownership details in six volumes (see below); a very good set.

This set has been put together by a collector over a number of years, and there are details of four different owners in six volumes (in one case, these have been whited out). Written on the front pastedown of Volumes 1 and 6 is 'A.L. Brealey. Enlisted Nov. 23 1914, 10th Battalion, later driver 5th Mechanical Transport Co.'. Volumes 4 and 12 (both first editions) contain a gift inscription from one P.B. Wald (Lieutenant Percy Britten Wald MC, 43rd Battalion); he has also written his name on the leading edge of the last volume.

The Australian Government accepted Charles Bean's 1919 recommendations for 'the official history and for a national war memorial which "for all time" would "hold the sacred memories of the AIF".... Bean himself wrote six volumes about the infantry divisions: the two on Gallipoli, and four on France. He edited eight [sic] more, and he and a colleague annotated the volume of photographs.... The series contained nearly four million words. In Australian historical writing nothing had ever been done on such a scale; and there had been no military history anywhere quite like Bean's.... [He] brought a democratic and colonial scepticism to bear on the assumption that the dispatches of high commanders were the best source of information about what actually happened when men went into battle. His own diaries (226 note-books) were full of the evidence about "what actual experiences, at the point where men lay out behind hedges or on the fringe of woods, caused those on one side to creep, walk, or run forward, and the others to go back". Bean's approach differed from that of the British war historians, whose work was official not only in sponsorship but in texture: history written by generals, not by an honorary captain. The British volumes had no biographical footnotes of the sort that were essential to Bean's method because he wanted to show that the participants were "a fair cross-section of our people ... that the company commander was a young lawyer and his second in command and most trusted mate a young engine driver and so on"' ('Australian Dictionary of Biography').

Dornbusch 209 (the complete set), 353 (Volumes 1 and 2), 294-297 (Volumes 3-6), 374 (Volume 10), 219 (Volume 11) and 223 (Volume 12); Fielding and O'Neill, page 208 (the complete set); Trigellis-Smith 725-36 (the complete set). Dornbusch provides useful information about dates of reprints and revised editions. For the record, the edition and publication date of the volumes in this set are (in order of volume number) 8/38; 6/38; 10/40; 1/33; 7/40; 1/42; 3/36; 2/33; 5/37; 5/38; 3/38; and 1/23. [12 items].

Item #133543


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