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About Paul Ham
PAUL HAM is a historian specialising in war, conflict and politics. Born and raised in Sydney, Paul has spent his working life in London, Sydney and Paris.
His books have been published to critical acclaim in Australia, Britain, the United States and many other countries, and have won several literary awards.
His latest title is 'Young Hitler: The Making of the Führer', a new examination of how Hitler's youth influenced his rise to power (Penguin Random House UK and Australia/NZ, Pegasus USA and Objetiva Brazil).
He has also written 'Passchendaele: Requiem for Doomed Youth', a new history of one of the worst conflicts on the Western Front; 'Hiroshima Nagasaki', a provocative history of the atomic bombings; '1914: The Year The World Ended'; 'Sandakan'; 'Vietnam: The Australian War'; and 'Kokoda'.
Paul has co-written two ABC documentaries based on his work: 'Kokoda', a 2-part series on the defeat of the Japanese army in Papua in 1942, shortlisted for the New York Documentary prize; and 'All the Way', a feature documentary about Australia's alliance with America during the Vietnam War, which he also narrated, and which received the UN's Media Peace prize.
A former correspondent for The Sunday Times, Paul has a Masters degree in Economic History from the London School of Economics and Political Science. He lives in Paris, with frequent trips to Sydney and London, and takes time off now and then to produce the Big Fat Poetry Pig-Out, an annual poetry recital, for charity.
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Books By Paul Ham
Featuring extracts from Elianne by Judy Nunn, Shame and the Captives by Tom Keneally, 1914 by Paul Ham, Ned Kelly by Peter FitzSimons, First Victory by Mike Carlton, The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan, Sunset Ridge by Nicole Alexander, Gone Fishing by Susan Duncan, and No Place Like Home by Caroline Overington – The Great Australian Writers' Collection 2013 is the perfect opportunity for readers to discover great new books from great Australian authors, or to get a taste for authors they might have heard about or read a great review about, but have been unsure if they’ll like their work.
And the best part of all – it’s FREE! So start reading and sharing your new discoveries today.
'Surely God weeps,' an Australian soldier wrote in despair of the conflict in Vietnam. But no God intervened to shorten the years of carnage and devastation in this most controversial of wars. the ten-year struggle in the rice paddies and jungles of South Vietnam unleashed the most devastating firepower on the Vietnamese nation, visiting terrible harm on both civilians and soldiers.Yet the Australian experience was very different from that of the Americans. Guided by their commanders' knowledge of jungle combat, Australian troops operated with stealth, deception and restraint to pursue a 'better war'. In reconstructing for the first time the full history of our longest military campaign, Paul Ham draws on hundreds of accounts by soldiers, politicians, aid workers, entertainers and the Vietnamese people. From the commitment to engage, through the fight over conscription and the rise of the anti-war movement, to the tactics and horror of the battlefield, Ham exhumes the truth about this politicians' war - which sealed the fate of 50,000 Australian servicemen and women. More than 500 Australian soldiers were killed and thousands wounded. those who made it home returned to a hostile and ignorant country and a reception that scarred them forever. this is their story.
In August 1914 the bulk of the German army - some 800,000 troops - defied Belgian neutrality and smashed across the border. Their orders were to invade France, destroying any Belgian resistance in their path. The German commanders were to achieve this within 6 weeks. What followed was the rape and massacre of hundreds of Belgian civilians. Scores of villages were burned. The beautiful library at Louvain was left in ashes. Such crimes were not arbitrary acts of drunken violence. They were planned and approved under the German military code. In this extract from his book 1914: The Year the World Ended, historian Paul Ham shows how the invasion of of Belgium set a brutal precedent for the Nazi occupation of Europe, 25 years later
It was premeditated, planned and executed with callous indifference to the suffering on the ground.
And, seven decades later, it remains one of the most bitterly controversial aspects of the Second World War.
The strategy grew out of new military thinking -- that ‘strategic bombing’ of homes and civilians would crush the spirit of the enemy to resist, and so shorten the war on the ground.
This ‘experiment’, as Bomber Harris, of British Bomber Command, described it, continued for months – killing 100,000 people in single nights of slaughter in Dresden and Tokyo.
But what did ‘terror bombing’ actually achieve?
Did it break the Japanese and German regimes?
In this graphic account, Paul Ham examines the truth about the air war in 1944 and 1945.
'Firestorm' is based on an edited extract from 'Hiroshima Nagasaki', the complete history of the atomic bomb by Paul Ham, published by HarperCollins Publishers.
Paul Ham's work has been widely praised.
"[A] vivid, comprehensive and quietly furious account...Paul Ham brings new tools to the job, unearthing fresh evidence of a deeply disturbing sort. He has a magpie eye for the telling detail" - Ben Macintyre The Times.
"We are in Paul Ham's debt for showing that it is unjustifiable to consider ever again dropping an atomic bomb...Comprehensive and horrifying" - Jonathan Mirsky Literary Review.
"Provocative and challenging, Paul Ham's book strips away the cosy myth that the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki ended the Second World War...A voice that is both vigorous and passionate" - Christopher Sylvester, Daily Express.
"Controversial...Well documented and stringently argued" - Peter Lewis, Daily Mail.
Endeavour Press is the UK's leading independent publisher of digital books.
He heard of Germany's defeat as he lay immobilised in a hospital bed, temporarily blinded from mustard gas. He opened his eyes on a terrible new world, of Germany’s loss and humiliation, the flight of the Kaiser, a Marxist uprising in Bavaria and the destruction of his beloved army.
Hitler would never accept Germany's defeat or the terms of the peace settlement. Out of his fury arose an unquenchable thirst for revenge, against the 'November criminals' who had signed the armistice; against the socialists whom he blamed for stabbing the army in the back; and, most violently, against the Jews, on whom he would load the blame for all Germany's woes and whom he considered a direct threat to the German master race of his imagination.
The seeds of that hatred lay in Hitler’s youthful experiences, growing up in Linz, Vienna and Munich, and as a young soldier in the Great War.
By peeling back the layers of Hitler's childhood, war record and early political career, Paul Ham's Young Hitler: The Making of the Führer conjures the ordinary man beneath the myth and seeks to solve the riddle behind the enigma of the Nazi leader.
What turned 'a Viennese bum', as Göring later damned him, into one of the most brutal dictators in human history? How had Hitler's first war, the defining years of his life, affect his rise to power?
In a broader sense, was Hitler a freak of history? Or rather an extreme example of a recurring 'type' of demagogue, who thrives in chaos, revolution and economic collapse? Who will do and say anything to seize power? And who personifies in his words and actions the darkest prejudices of humankind?
The intervening century, the most violent in human history, has not disarmed these pictures of their power to shock. At the very least they ask us, on the 100th anniversary of the battle, to see and to try to understand what happened here. Yes, we commemorate the event. Yes, we adorn our breasts with poppies. But have we seen? Have we understood? Have we dared to reason why?
What happened at Passchendaele was the expression of the 'wearing-down war', the war of pure attrition at its most spectacular and ferocious.
Paul Ham’s Passchendaele: Requiem for Doomed Youth shows how ordinary men on both sides endured this constant state of siege, with a very real awareness that they were being gradually, deliberately, wiped out. Yet the men never broke: they went over the top, when ordered, again and again and again. And if they fell dead or wounded, they were casualties in the 'normal wastage', as the commanders described them, of attritional war. Only the soldier’s friends at the front knew him as a man, with thoughts and feelings. His family back home knew him as a son, husband or brother, before he had enlisted. By the end of 1917 he was a different creature: his experiences on the Western Front were simply beyond their powers of comprehension.
The book tells the story of ordinary men in the grip of a political and military power struggle that determined their fate and has foreshadowed the destiny of the world for a century. Passchendaele lays down a powerful challenge to the idea of war as an inevitable expression of the human will, and examines the culpability of governments and military commanders in a catastrophe that destroyed the best part of a generation.
After the fall of Singapore, in February 1942, the Japanese conquerors rounded up tens of thousands of British and Australian soldiers and shipped them to prison camps scattered throughout Hirohito’s newly won Empire.
The fall of Britain’s ‘impregnable fortress’ was the greatest humiliation in British military history, for which Churchill never forgave the Japanese.
But nothing would surpass the wretched fate of some 2,700 British and Australian prisoners who were shipped to British North Borneo later that year. They landed in Sandakan, on the east coast of the island, after a 10-day voyage on a Japanese ‘hell’ ship, and were herded into a jungle camp some eight miles inland.
Thus began the three-year ordeal of the Sandakan prisoners of war - a barely known story of unimaginable horror.
In a unique and balanced portrayal, renowned journalist Paul Ham recounts both the Australian and Japanese perspectives of the events on the hellish Papuan jungle trail where thousands fought and died during World War II. Based on extensive research in Australia and Japan, and including previously unpublished documents, Kokoda intimately relates the stories of ordinary soldiers in 'the world's worst killing field', and examines the role of commanders in sending ill-equipped, unqualified Australian troops into battles that resulted in near 100 per cent casualty rates. It was a war without mercy, fought back and forth along 90 miles (145 km) of river crossings, steep inclines and precipitous descents, with both sides wracked by hunger and disease, and terrified of falling into enemy hands. Defeat was unthinkable: the Australian soldier was fighting for his homeland against an unyielding aggressor; the Japanese ordered to fight to the death in a bid to conquer 'Greater East Asia'. Paul Ham captures the spirits of those soldiers and commanders who clashed in this war of exceptional savagery, and tells of the brave souls on both sides of the campaign whose courage and sacrifices must never be forgotten.
The atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki killed more than 100,000 instantly, mostly women, children and the elderly. Many hundreds of thousands more succumbed to their horrific injuries later, or slowly perished of radiation-related sickness. Yet the bombs were ‘our least abhorrent choice’, American leaders claimed at the time - and still today most people believe they ended the Pacific War and saved millions of American and Japanese lives. Ham challenges this view, arguing that the bombings, when Japan was on its knees, were the culmination of a strategic Allied air war on enemy civilians that began in Germany and had till then exacted its most horrific death tolls in Dresden and Tokyo.
The war in Europe may have ended but it continued in the Pacific against a regime still looking to save face. Ham describes the political manoeuvring and the scientific race to build the new atomic weapon. He also gives powerful witness to its destruction through the eyes of eighty survivors, from 12-year-olds forced to work in war factories to wives and children who faced it alone, reminding us that these two cities were full of ordinary people who suddenly, out of a clear blue summer’s sky, felt the sun fall on their heads.
The Odd Angry Shot is the seminal account of Australian soldiers in the Vietnam War.
Brief and bracing, tragic yet darkly funny, it portrays a close-knit group of knockabout SAS fighters: their mateship, homesickness and fears; their practical jokes, drinking and fighting. The enemy is not just the Vietcong they've been sent to fight, but their superiors, the mud and torrential rain, and boredom.
In 1975 it won the National Book Council Award and was made into an iconic Australian film starring Graham Kennedy, Bryan Brown, John Jarrett, John Hargreaves and Graeme Blundell.
This edition comes with a new introduction by the renowned military historian Paul Ham, who writes: 'The Odd Angry Shot reveals...how war damages and destroys not only life and limb, but also the brains, hopes and dreams of everyone involved...It is an Australian Dispatches and - like Michael Herr's classic, which came out two years later - it rips the scales from our eyes.'
William Nagle was born in Bacchus Marsh, Victoria, in 1947. Enlisting in the army in 1964, he qualified as a cook the next year. In mid-1966 he was deployed with the SAS to Saigon, but was sent home for subordination the following March and later discharged. The Odd Angry Shot, his debut, fictionalised his experiences in Vietnam. Published in 1975, the novel won the National Book Council Award and became an instant classic. In 1979 it was made into a major film starring Graham Kennedy, John Hargreaves, John Jarratt and Bryan Brown. Nagle died in 2002.
Paul Ham's latest book, Sandakan, was published by Random House in 2012. He is the author of Vietnam: The Australian War, Kokoda and Hiroshima Nagasaki, published by HarperCollins.
'Short, pithy and powerful.' Dominion Post
'This autobiographical novel stands the test of time, revealing human faces caught in a tragic chapter of Australian history.' SMH/Age/Canberra Times
'Evoking a time and place that can still provoke anger, here is a book long overdue for a reprint.' Launceston Examiner
'A savage and mordantly funny novel...Visceral and immediate, irreverent and agonised, the story pules with the plea to ''remember...remember"...The narrative slams its way onwards, in brief, brutal, battering scenes like bursts of gunfire, unexpectedly modulating into moments of wistful hope...Nagle takes no prisoners, makes no excuses. It's a story without sentiment, but packed with passion and compassion. Its damaged young men are the core of a shocking, sundering little book that punches far above its length.' Weekend Herald Auckland
In Britain, people are debating a new dance called ‘the tango’.
In Germany, they are fascinated by the wedding of the Kaiser’s daughter to the Duke of Brunswick.
Little did they know that their world was on The Eve of War, a catastrophe that was to engulf the continent, cost millions of lives, and change the course of the century.
And yet behind the scenes, the Great Powers were marching towards what they thought was an inevitable conflict.
In this controversial and concise essay, the military historian Paul Ham argues that the First World War was not an historical mistake, a conflict into which the Great Powers stumbled by accident. Nor was it a justified war, in which uncontained German aggression had to be defeated. Instead the politicians and generals of the day willed the war, and prepared for it – but eventually found themselves caught up in an inferno they could no longer control.
The Eve of War is a brilliant re-examination of the causes of the First World War that is both an introduction to one of the most complex subjects in history and an original and thought-provoking contribution to the debate over the origins of the conflict.
Praise for Paul Ham
'[A] vivid, comprehensive and quietly furious account...Paul Ham brings new tools to the job, unearthing fresh evidence of a deeply disturbing sort. He has a magpie eye for the telling detail.' - Ben Macintyre, The Times.
'Provocative and challenging...A voice that is both vigorous and passionate.' - Christopher Sylvester, Daily Express.
'Controversial...Well documented and stringently argued.' - Peter Lewis, Daily Mail.
Paul Ham is the author of the forthcoming 1914: The Year the World Ended, to be published by Random House in Britain in 2014. He has previously written the acclaimed Sandakan, Kokoda, Vietnam: The
Australian War and Hiroshima Nagasaki. A former Australia Correspondent of the Sunday Times, he was born in Sydney and educated in Australia and Britain. He now lives in Sydney and Paris.
In July that year, Germany, Austria-Hungary, Russia, Britain and France were poised to plunge the world into a war that would kill or wound 37 million people, tear down the fabric of society, uproot ancient political systems and set the course for the bloodiest century in human history.
In the longer run, the events of 1914 set the world on the path toward the Russian Revolution, the Treaty of Versailles, the rise of Nazism and the Cold War.
In 1914: The Year the World Ended, award-winning historian Paul Ham tells the story of the outbreak of the Great War from German, British, French, Austria-Hungarian, Russian and Serbian perspectives.Along the way, he debunks several stubborn myths.
European leaders, for example, did not stumble or 'sleepwalk' into war, as many suppose. They fully understood that a small conflict in the Balkans - the tinderbox at the heart of the continent - could spark a European war. They well knew what their weapons could do.
Yet they carried on. They accepted - and, in some cases, even seemed to relish - what they saw as an inevitable clash of arms. They planned and mapped every station on the path to oblivion. These pied pipers of the apocalypse chose war in the full knowledge that millions would follow, and die, on their orders.
1914: The Year the World Ended seeks to answer the most vexing question of the 20th century: Why did European governments decide to condemn the best part of a generation of young men to the trenches and four years of slaughter, during which 8.5 million would die?