Charles Bean's official wartime journalism and postwar official history helped forge the nation-defining legend of the Anzacs on the battlefields of Gallipoli and western Europe, and remains a primary source for Australian's Great War. Given extraordinary access to the Allied commanders and the battle frontlines, Bean often chanced death beside the Diggers in the trenches, and privately diarised the awful truth of the carnage: the leadership failures, the tragic mistakes and needless waste of so many young lives. But how much was Australia's official correspondent ever able to reveal of what he really knew?
In this timely biography, Ross Coulthart investigates the untold story behind Bean's journalistic dilemma - his struggle to tell the Australian public the truth, but also the pressure he felt to support the war and boost morale at home by suppressing what he'd seen. Bean's diaries often reveal a shocking difference between what he witnessed and what Australia was told. They are a window onto a crucial moment in twentieth-century history, a critical scrutiny of those in command, an insight into power, and an expose of the war's suffering and hardship.
Coulthart also tells how, postwar, Bean laboured to give a fuller, and more candid, account of the war in his landmark history - and played a key role in the creation of the Australian War Memorial, ensuring that the sacrifice of so many would be remembered forever.