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The intriguing and daring story of the Australian coast-watchers in New Britain and the Solomon Islands during World War II is fairly well known, but they were part of a wider organisation. The Allied Intelligence Bureau was General MacArthur's intelligence, special operations and field propaganda unit in the Pacific War, 1942-45.
The AIB was unique in its multinational composition. Under American leadership, it included British, Dutch, Australian, New Zealand and Canadian members, although many of the leaders and most of the field operatives were Australian. Its area of operations stretched from New Guinea to the Solomon Islands and from Indonesia, including Borneo, to the Asian mainland.
Using much newly released, formerly secret archival material from Britain, the USA and Australia, this new full-scale study of the AIB examines for the first time relations between operatives and native peoples - a relationship critical for the success or failure of missions that were often appallingly dangerous. It also lays bare the power struggles within the organisation itself - conflicts over national, military and personal interests that were constant and intense - heightened by the conduct of war at a time that was, without doubt, the most desperate in Australian history.
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Alan Powell is Professor of History at the Northern Territory University and a former Dean of the Arts Faculty.Review:
'Reading Alan Powell's history with the majestic strains of Beethoven's Erotica in the background, I had the eerie feeling of being transported back almost 40 years to a mountainside in Papua New Guinea...' -- Michael O'Connor, The Australian
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