Murphy’s War – a book on Australia in World War 1

Murphy's War - World War 1 Australia brought to lifeWelcome to the homepage of the new historical novel Murphy’s War, co-authored by Robert Lewis & Elizabeth Murphy. The book maps the fortunes of ten young men from rural Victoria who enlisted and served overseas with the Australian Imperial Force (A.I.F) during World War 1. (1914 – 1918)

In writing the book, the authors attempted to reconstruct Australia and her men before, during and after World War 1. This is the war as seen through the eyes of those who fought, suffered, bled and died. By employing first hand, personal accounts from the ordinary men who served the book brings World War 1 Australia to life. The book is divided into two narratives, a historical narrative which examines the fortunes of the soldiers through a mixture of letters, anecdotes and other historical accounts which place the men against the backdrop of the war.

Within this chronology of events we have woven the first person narrative of one of the men, Frank Murphy. His narrative was brought together from surviving dairies, essays and letters which allowed us to bring his experiences on The Western Front to life.

World War 1 Australia brought to life

Murphy's War - examining Australia in World War 1

The individual journey of each of the men commenced somewhere in rural Western Victoria, and throughout the story, Australia during wartime is reconstructed and brought back to life. Several of the men enter the fight for Gallipoli while all of the men are eventually drawn into the fierce fighting in France and Belgium. In writing the book the authors have attempted to reconstruct the war through the lens of ordinary Australians and their experiences.

The book equates to not so much a history of battles or military heroes, but rather an attempt at examining the collective consciousness of young Australian men who endured one of histories bloodiest and most destructive wars. Parts of the book fall into the genre of narrative non-fiction where the authors utilize several literary devices to tell the story. The primary device is to have one of the men recollect their experiences through a first person narrative. Due to the nature of the conflict, the primary material was necessarily fragmented, thus the continuity that exists within the first person narrative is also a device designed to engage the reader in the story.

Murphy’s War grew organically from a find of war journals which had been passed down over generations. Only thanks to recent advances in technology were the authors able to transcribe the original documents in order to bring this incredible story back to life. At the centre of the story is Frank Murphy and his original world war one dairies and writings form the basis of this narrative which weaves in and out between a group of ten men. Many of the original documents, written in indelible pencil on pages worn and stained, their origin the trenches of France and Belgium. Several attempts had been made to transcribe the dairies in the past but the writing proved too difficult to decipher. The key to unlocking the contents of the diaries came through advances in technology, as with the zoom features on image software now able to enhance the scanned material and decipher it, suddenly revealed a great story.

Originally intended as a cultural and family history, the authors through the process of writing and research came to realise that the war, and its impact were a great topic for this type of history as so many Australian families were directly affected. Thus Murphy’s War is part narrative non-fiction, part history which combined together to form a highly memorable account of ordinary Australians in the First World War.

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