In Love and War by Susan Jacobs and The Occupiers by Alison Parr - review

by Dale Williams / 27 December, 2012
Women historians writing about war are far less interested in weaponry and battles than they are in the effect of war on human lives and society; some exceptionally insightful writing results.
In Love and WarWomen historians writing about war are far less interested in weaponry and battles than they are
in the effect of war on human lives and society; some exceptionally insightful writing results.

More than 16,000 Kiwi servicemen fought in Italy in World War II. Some returned with Italian brides; some left behind “fatherless” children. The first part of Susan Jacobs’s intelligent and absorbing IN LOVE AND WAR: KIWI SOLDIERS’ ROMANTIC ENCOUNTERS IN WARTIME ITALY (Penguin, $39.99) analyses the social impact the Kiwi troops and Italian society had on each other, and New Zealand authorities’ fruitless attempts at controlling interaction between servicemen and signorinas. Part two tells the stories of 14 individual marriages, and the brides’ often rocky starts to married life in this country. Jacobs turns detective for one abandoned baby, successfully uniting her with Kiwi relatives.

Between 1946 and 1948, 12,000 New Zealand servicemen and women served in “J Force” – the army of occupation in Japan. Interviews with survivors form the basis of Alison Parr’s THE OCCUPIERS: NEW ZEALAND VETERANS REMEMBER POST-WAR JAPAN (Penguin, $44.99). Many were posted to rural areas to help rebuild shattered infrastructure. For some – especially those who saw the aftermath of a devastated Hiroshima – it was a life-altering awakening. For a few, notably those hostessing WAA Cs who poured tea in Kiwi servicemen’s social clubs, Japan was simply a pleasant interlude. Some found both sides had to try hard to overcome bogey beliefs instilled by war propaganda, and that working alongside each other saw a developing appreciation of the similarities between human beings.

Less-than-heroic tales common to Parr’s as well as Jacobs’s book concern Kiwis’ knack for petty theft, and the soaring prostitution and STI rates that followed soldiers in occupied countries.

Dale Williams is a writer and editor.

Latest

Why you should avoid 'eating for two' during pregnancy
98747 2018-11-18 00:00:00Z Health

Why you should avoid 'eating for two' during pregn…

by Ruth Nichol

Doubling down on food during pregnancy is out, unless it’s diet quality we’re talking about.

Read more
The long, slow goodbye to Angela Merkel
99173 2018-11-17 00:00:00Z World

The long, slow goodbye to Angela Merkel

by Cathrin Schaer

German Chancellor Angela Merkel plans to leave the job in 2021, but that’s not soon enough for some.

Read more
Silent witness: The forgotten NZ movie star
97576 2018-11-17 00:00:00Z Movies

Silent witness: The forgotten NZ movie star

by Paul Little

One of the earliest and possibly least known NZ movie stars is Eve Balfour, a silent-movie actress, born in Christchurch in 1890.

Read more
How the Christchurch earthquakes inspired British writer AN Wilson’s new novel
99087 2018-11-17 00:00:00Z Books

How the Christchurch earthquakes inspired British …

by Sally Blundell

AN Wilson has put aside biographies for a novel inspired by quake-devastated Christchurch – where he expects the book will get a tough reception.

Read more
Victory over the All Blacks this weekend would add to Ireland's epic history
99193 2018-11-17 00:00:00Z Sport

Victory over the All Blacks this weekend would add…

by Paul Thomas

Kiwi Joe Schmidt has a chance of adding to Irish rugby’s storied history in the upcoming game against the All Blacks.

Read more
A big science investment - but where’s the transparency?
99199 2018-11-17 00:00:00Z Tech

A big science investment - but where’s the transpa…

by Peter Griffin

An extra $420m is being pumped into the National Science Challenges - but the reasoning behind the increased investment won't be released.

Read more
NZ music legend Gray Bartlett has a new album – and a wild past
99182 2018-11-16 13:32:58Z Music

NZ music legend Gray Bartlett has a new album – an…

by Donna Chisholm

We revisit this profile on award-winning guitarist Gray Bartlett, who's just released a new album, Platinum!

Read more
Vint Cerf: The father of the Internet reflects on what his creation has become
99178 2018-11-16 13:13:08Z Tech

Vint Cerf: The father of the Internet reflects on …

by Peter Griffin

"We were just a bunch of engineers trying to make it work. It didn't even occur to us that anybody would want to wreck it," says Vint Cerf.

Read more