Join us for the launch of The Emperor’s Grace: Untold Stories of the Australians Enslaved in Japan During World War II, by Mark Baker
In conversation with the author will be historians Michael McKernan and Frank Bongiorno
or phone 6295 6723
The Emperor’s Grace is the story of the men of C Force – the first contingent of Australian, British and Dutch prisoners of war shipped from Singapore to Japan in November 1942. These men worked in the Kawasaki Shipyard in Kobe before the American firebombing campaign razed the city, and then the infamous Fukuoka coal mine before the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki brought World War II to an end.
When the Japanese seized most of South-East Asia in early 1942, they captured 22,000 Australian military personnel. More than a third would die over the next three years from malnutrition, disease and violent abuse. The horrors of the Thai–Burma Railway and Sandakan are well documented. Less well known is the fate of the 3800 Australians sent to work as slave labourers in the factories and mines of mainland Japan.
The Emperor’s Grace is a compelling story of hardship, heroism and endurance – and the ultimate triumph of the human spirit – told for the first time from the unpublished diaries, memoirs and personal accounts of the men who survived.
Mark Baker is one of Australia’s most experienced journalists. He is a former Senior Editor of The Age, Editor of The Canberra Times and Managing Editor (National) of Fairfax Media. During 13 years as a foreign correspondent for Fairfax, News Corp and The Financial Times he had postings in China, Hong Kong, Thailand, Singapore and Papua New Guinea. He covered the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and was wounded while covering the civil war in Bougainville in the early 1990s. He has also served as Political Editor and Canberra Bureau Chief of The Age. Mark Baker is now publisher of the independent online magazine Inside Story. His most recent book was Phillip Schuler: The Remarkable Life of One of Australia’s Greatest War Correspondents.
Michael McKernan is an historian and the author of many books, with extensive experience in teaching and research, management, the media and the practical presentation of history. He is a Former Deputy Director of the Australian War Memorial, and a leading commentator on commemoration in Australia.
Frank Bongiorno is Head of the School of History at the Australian National University. He is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia and the Australian Academy of the Humanities, a Member of the order of Australia, and Vice-President of the Australian Historical Association. Frank is the author of The Sex Lives of Australians: A History of the Eighties: The Decade that Transformed Australia