Bastard Behind the Lines

‘The way I look at it is this…When you’re behind the line and get yourself into trouble, you’ve got to get your bloody self out irrespective of anybody else. That’s why I like it.’

Scottish-born but a Queenslander to the bone, Jock McLaren was a true Australian hero. As a prisoner he escaped twice, first from Changi and later from the infamous Sandakan POW camp in Borneo. After paddling a dugout canoe across open sea, he fought for two years with American-led Filipino guerrillas, his exploits so audacious the Japanese put a price on his head.

At the helm of his 26-foot whaleboat, the Bastard, McLaren sailed brazenly into enemy-held harbours, wreaking havoc with his mortar and machine guns before heading back out to sea. In early 1945 he joined Australia’s secretive Z Special Unit, parachuting into Borneo to carry out reconnaissance and organise anti-Japanese resistance ahead of Allied landings. He cheated death on numerous occasions and saved his own life by removing his appendix without anaesthetic, using ‘two large dessert spoons’ and a razor blade.

Drawing on Allied and Japanese wartime documents, Bastard Behind the Lines brings the story of a courageous digger vividly to life and throws light on a rarely explored aspect of Australia’s Pacific war.

Keep Your Head Down

Nathan Mullins deployed to Afghanistan as a Special Forces Commando. Spearheading Australia’s Special Operations troops, he and other Australians like him sought the Taliban in the valleys and hills of Uruzgan through Afghanistan’s harsh winter while at the same time attempting to bring a human face to the villagers caught in the middle of the fighting. They lived with the daily threat of roadside bombs, ambush and firefights, where survival meant learning to read the signs to determine friend from foe. And they did what they could to relieve the awful effects of war on the men, women and children of the civilian population caught in the crossfire.

But these were not your regular soldiers. Sure, they had trained for years for the role but these were citizen soldiers, reservists who had put aside their usual jobs as salesmen, farmers, scientists, lawyers and students to fight Australia’s ‘war on terror’.

Keep Your Head Down is a brutally honest, first-hand account that takes you into the centre of the action and asks some tough questions. What is Australia doing in Afghanistan? What would winning that war look like? What makes a man leave his family to go to war when he doesn’t have to? Can there be such a thing as a just war?

Essential Militaria

A riotous collection of military facts and figures. Includes such categories as ‘The Eight Wounds Sustained by Alexander the Great’ and ‘The Worst Reasons for Starting a War’.

Essential Militaria is an invaluable repository of information, facts and curiosities about warfare past and present.

It is the place to find the largest naval battles, the most decisive weaponry, the ranks of the US Army and some very fine speeches.

Essential Militaria is also home to animal bravery awards; the most significant special operations in history; Napoleon’s generals; and the eight wounds sustained by Alexander the Great.

Authoritative, unusual and irreverent, it is the indispensable companion for armchair generals everywhere.

Delicacies of War
1. Roast cat (tasted ‘like squirrel… delicious’)
2. Kittens in onion ragout (‘excellent’)
3. Donkey steaks (‘like mutton’)
4. Rat salami (‘something between frog and rabbit’)
5. Spaniel slices (‘by no means bad, something like lamb’)