Dr David Day on "1942 - Australia's greatest peril"

"Immensely readable and historically rigorous"

The book 1942 provides ‘a new and important perspective to the ongoing debate’ about the invasion of Australia, according to historian Professor David Day. Here’s an extract from his foreword to the book:

‘In the event, the invasion of Australia never eventuated. This has led some historians to conclude that Churchill had been correct in dismissing it as a serious possibility. Some have argued that an invasion of Australia was never on the Japanese agenda. Some have even gone so far as to argue that Curtin deliberately played on Australian fears during 1942 in order to boost the Australian war effort.

‘In contrast, Bob Wurth draws on a multitude of Japanese sources to show how an invasion of Australia became a very real possibility in the wake of the unexpectedly easy Japanese success in destroying much of the American Pacific fleet, along with the British warships, Prince of Wales and Repulse, before the subsequent run of Japanese victories from Burma to Bougainville. With the fall of these vast territories, and the defeat of their defenders, the path to Australia had been cleared.

‘There were powerful voices in Tokyo calling for their commanders to capitalize on their victories by also taking Australia out of the Allied equation. Prolonged debates ensued between Japanese naval and military officials before the issue was finally settled. In the event, it was decided that Australia was a territory too big and too far. Japan would try to isolate rather than invade Australia. Instead of being a tyranny, distance proved to be Australia’s best defence.

‘In his immensely readable and historically rigorous book, Bob Wurth brings those far-off days to life in dramatic fashion, providing a new and important perspective to the ongoing debate. It is a story that all Australians should read.’ Professor David Day.


(David Day has written widely on Australian history and the history of the Second World War. His recent books include The Politics of War, the prize-winning biographies Chifley and John Curtin: A Life and the best-selling history of Australia, Claiming a Continent. His latest book is Conquest: A new history of the modern world.)