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Australia and Appeasement: Imperial Foreign Policy and the Origins of World War II

Australia and Appeasement: Imperial Foreign Policy and the Origins of World War II
Christopher Waters

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On 3 September 1939, Robert Menzies, the Australian Prime Minister, broadcast to the Australian people the news that their country was at war with Germany. He outlined how every effort had been made to maintain the peace by keeping the door open to a negotiated settlement. However, as these efforts had failed, the British Empire was now 'involved in a struggle which we must at all costs win, and which we believe in our hearts we will win'. Christopher Waters here examines Australia's role in Britain's policy of appeasement from the time Hitler came to power in 1933 through to the declaration of war in September 1939. Focusing on the five leading figures in the Australian governments of the 1930s - Joe Lyons, Stanley Bruce, Robert Menzies, Billy Hughes and Richard Casey - Waters examines their responses to the rise of Hitler and the growing threat of fascism in Europe. Australian governments accepted the principle that the Empire must speak with one voice on foreign policy and were therefore intimately involved in the decisions taken by successive governments in London.

As such, this book provides new insights into the making of imperial foreign policy in the inter-war era, imperial history, the origins of World War II and Australian history.

Author Info

Christopher Waters is Senior Lecturer in Twentieth Century International History at Deakin University, Australia. He has published widely on Australian international history, Anglo-Australian relations and Australian political history and his publications include The Empire Fractures: Anglo-Australian Conflict in the 1940s; Evatt to Evans: The Labor Tradition in Australian Foreign Policy (joint editor); and Ministers, Mandarins and Diplomats: Australian Foreign Policy Making 1941-1969 (co-author). A review in the Canberra Times described The Empire Fractures as ‘a most impressive first book’.


‘[an] excellent book...A huge amount has been written about the origins of World War II, but Waters's contribution is genuinely original...His research is first rate and the facts are laid out with admirable even-handedness.’
– The Australian

‘A well-documented study of Australian political history.’
– Sun Herald

‘Waters presents his account clearly, with a command of context and telling use of detail. Australian foreign policy in the years leading up to the war is a heavily tilled field, but his is the most comprehensive treatment of this troubling strand.’
– Australian Book Review

Bibliographic Info

Imprint: I.B.Tauris
Publisher: I.B.Tauris & Co Ltd

ISBN: 9781848859982
Publication Date: 01 Nov 2011
Number of Pages: 320
Height: 216
Width: 134
Illustrations: 10 integrated bw illustrations

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