And The Band Played Waltzing Matilda by Eric Bogle
Published by Allen & Unwin
‘But the band played ‘Waltzing Matilda’ when we stopped to bury our slain. We buried ours, and the Turks buried theirs; then we started all over again.’
Eric Bogle’s famous song, that this book bears the title of, was first published in 1971, but like all timeless tales it is still relevant today, even more so, in this 100th year since Australia’s courageous involvement in the conflict at Gallipoli. The song doesn’t gloss over the casualties of war or glamorise it, rather it explores a harrowing tale of one young man’s journey there and back, in a brutally honest manner, and it has been re-imagined for today’s audience as a beautiful hard back illustrated book.
The story that underpins the song, resembles the truth of what the war experience, for many, would have been like during such volatile times. The author has set out to boldly portray these experiences and evoke a strong emotional reaction from future generations of readers, hoping in turn it will positively influence a new mindset, so that old mistakes are not repeated.
Bruce Whatley, well known for his playful illustrations in Diary of a Wombat, and many other titles, this time utilises his enormous talent to provide a haunting and heart-rending backdrop which helps encapsulate Eric Bogle’s powerful message. The evocative ink and water-coloured illustrations, were inspired by photographs and true images of the Gallipoli conflict, which Whatley researched in detail, and found through invaluable resources such as the Australian War Memorial archives.
Such a topic is always going to be emotively fuelled and maybe a little grim, but the confronting images, like the words, respectfully tell a true story, and I too, believe it is a truth that should never be forgotten.
CKT Book Reviewer
Author: Eric Bogle
Illustrator: Bruce Whatley
Title: And The Band Played Waltzing Matilda
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Published: February 2015