The War Game: Australian War Leadership from Gallipoli to Iraq

Emeritus Professor David Horner

Event details

SDSC War Studies Seminar Series

Date & time

Monday 27 March 2023


Hedley Bull Lecture Theatre 1


Emeritus Professor David Horner


Bell School Marketing Team

In this seminar, Professor David Horner will be discussing his new book, The War Game, Australian War leadership from Gallipoli to Iraq. Committing the nation to war is the gravest decision its leaders can make. His new book, The War Game, examines why and how Australia went to war, and how it managed the nation’s nine conflicts between the First World War and the Iraq War. It explores the relationships between some of the most dominant political leaders in Australian history – Billy Hughes, Robert Menzies, John Curtin, Harold Holt, John Gorton, Bob Hawke and John Howard - and their top military commanders, including William Birdwood, John Monash, Brudenell White, Thomas Blamey, Vernon Sturdee, Douglas MacArthur, Sydney Rowell, Frederick Scherger, John Wilton, Peter Gration and Peter Cosgrove.

Professor Horner raises important questions about the process of war leadership. Australia has always fought as a junior partner in a coalition, either within the British Empire or as part of the US alliance; how should Australia’s leaders manage these alliance arrangements? Should political leaders leave the conduct of the war to their top military commanders or should they interfere? Have Australia’s war leaders always made wise decisions? And how should Australia’s future war leaders prepare for the tasks ahead?

Ultimately, it is the soldiers, their families, and the people of Australia who bear the burden imposed by the decisions of the war leaders. The War Game is about the greatest challenges likely to face Australia’s leaders.

Copies of the book will be available for purchase on the day.


David Horner is an emeritus professor in the Strategic and Defence Studies Centre, ANU, where he was Professor of Australia Defence History for fifteen years. He was an infantry platoon commander in the Vietnam War and later, as a colonel, was head of the Australian Army’s Land Warfare Studies Centre. He is the author or editor of 37 books on military history, defence and intelligence.

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