The Great War of 1914–1918 affected all Australians and decisively changed the new nation. They were the ‘Crying Years’ according to writer Zora Cross, who lost her brother in 1917.

In the new book The Crying Years: Australia’s Great War (NLA Publishing, August, $44.99), award-winning historian Peter Stanley has compiled a unique visual history of the era, which weaves a compelling narrative around many striking, never-before-seen images.

Using documents, photographs, artefacts and images from the National Library’s collection, Stanley connects the war overseas—the well-chronicled battles at Gallipoli, Fromelles, Passchendaele and Villers-Bretonneux—with the equally bitter war at home, for and against conscription, over ‘loyalty’ and ‘disloyalty’. Men faced life-changing choices: volunteer to fight or stay at home; join the revolutionary unionists or break the strikes. Women bore the burdens of waiting and worrying, of working for charities or of voting to send men to their deaths. Even children were drawn into the animosities, as communities fractured under the stress. Engaging and accessibly written, The Crying Years evokes the drama, tragedy, suffering and sacrifice of Australia’s Great War and its lingering aftermath.

Author Peter Stanley is a Research Professor at UNSW Canberra. He is one of Australia’s most active military social historians and the author of over 30 books, many dealing with Australia’s Great War. He was formerly Principal Historian at the Australian War Memorial, was jointly awarded the Prime Minister’s Prize for Australian History (in 2011) and is the current President of Honest History.