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by Neil McDonald
Lothian Books 2003
Cover Price: $45.00
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|Damien Parer's War
Any researcher of the Second World War in the Pacific, particularly the war in New Guinea, would know the Bell & Howell Comoany Eyemo motion picture camera footage showing a blinded Australian militiaman being helped across a river by one of his mates. Often mistakenly listed as being filmed on the Kokoda Trail, the footage was actually shot in the Salamaua region by wartime cameraman Damien Parer.
By getting up close to the action during World War Two - something he eventually paid for with his life - Parer has become recognised as one of the best war photographers in history.
Mainly due to the number of books (both good and bad) out there relating to the Kokoda campaign, I usually find myself steering clear of anything to do with the Australian Army in Papua New Guinea. But for some reason, I found myself immersed in this biography as soon as I removed it from the Australian War Memorial’s bookshelves.
McDonald has covered Parer’s career from the early days before the Second World War; his actions with the Australians in North Africa; his coverage of the battles in New Guinea and Indonesia (including his Oscar winning “Kokoda: Frontline” film); as well as his disputes with the Australian authorities eventually culminating in Damien transferring to the later American campaigns in the Pacific. Because of this book, I went out and ordered numerous pieces of Parer footage from the Australian War Memorial something I have not regretted.
I found this an excellent account of what would be one of the lesser known professions during wartime. (I found the last page particularly moving). This is an extremely well researched volume!
Review by Daniel Leahy
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