The War at Home interprets the experience of the Australian people during the Great War in Australia itself, in the politics of war, its economic and social effects, and in the experience of war; what is conventionally called social history. It seeks to show that the war affected many aspects of Australians lives and that peoples' experience of 1914-18 included more than just the war. It also addresses the impact of the war on Australia's culture and artistic responses to the war.
This volume draws on the uneven but still substantial body of scholarship that has grown up in the decades since Ernest Scotts official history appeared in 1936, which in turn has largely been founded on an array of sources mainly made available since then. The Bibliographic Essay discusses the secondary literature on which it is based. It also reflects the experience of the years since then. The events of our past change how we understand more distant history. It is impossible now to think of the internment of German Australians without also reflecting on the experiences of those detained in immigration detention camps, to think of the battle of Broken Hill without also thinking of the war on terror pursued from 2001, or to look at Norman Lindsay's posters without recalling the insidious influence of propaganda in the century since.
Before understanding the way the Great War affected Australians, we need to acknowledge the texture of life in 1914. Australia before the Great War was, as Michelle Hetherington writes in a survey of the last full year of peace, a world of glorious possibilities, in which as a social laboratory of progressive social, industrial and economic legislation it was eager to learn, to develop, to dream. The war would damage that dream, arguably fatally.