Michael Molkentin, Australia and the War in the Air: Volume I – The Centenary History of Australia and the Great War (Melbourne: Oxford University Press, 2014)


I received this book as a review copy so I shall not go in to too much detail other than to say that anyone interested in the First World War in the Air should pick up a copy of this book. While focused on the Australian experience, Molkentin places that experience within its correct context, that of the British Empire and in particular the Australian Flying Corps’ (AFC) relationship with Britain’s air services, the Royal Flying Corps, Royal Naval Air Service and eventually the Royal Air Force. By placing the AFC into this context, Molkentin follows in the footsteps of S.F. Wise’s work on the Canadians in providing us one of the best accounts of the air war from the perspective of the ‘British’ experience. Naturally, though the Australian experience remains centre stage with a very useful overview of the development of air power in Australia present in the book. It is a fascinating subject and one that deserves to be widely read. My only other comment concerns the centenary series itself and is more one of frustration than anything else. Simply put, why are the British not doing a similar series? While the British official histories contain useful volumes, a modern up to date series written by leading scholars would be of inestimable value. We are sure to see some valuable independent volumes published over the coming years but a collegiate effort, in my opinion, would not go amiss. In my opinion, the Australian’s are to be commended for this effort and I look forward to future volumes.


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