From the Trenches: The best ANZAC writing of World War One

Others have written the myth, but the Anzacs themselves wrote their stories. From the Trenches is the definitive collection of World War One writing from Australia and New Zealand, a literary journey from the optimistic farewell parades of 1914 to the grim battlefields of Gallipoli, the Middle East and the Western Front.

Around the country, bronze soldiers in slouch hats stand silently at attention. It is the Anzacs’ own remarkable writing that reveals the lives behind the national legend. From the Trenches is a collection of gripping, awe-inspiring and sometimes terrifying accounts of life at the front, recorded by those who lived through the fighting.

Drawn from diaries, memoirs and letters, as well as poetry, reportage and prose, this collection reminds us that the Anzac legend is rooted in real and tragic circumstances on a heartbreakingly human scale. Belying the common perception of the laconic digger, these compelling voices convey the range of wartime experience, from desolation and horror to unbridled excitement and camaraderie. Through it all runs the bleak toll on young lives.

Author and journalist Mark Dapin has selected writing from those on the frontlines as well as behind the scenes, from officers and soldiers to nurses, engineers and reporters, to create a volume that will be regarded as the definitive record of the personal experiences that forged the emerging national identities of Australia and New Zealand.


“Complementing his The Penguin Book of Australian War Writing, while narrowing his focus, Mark Dapin’s From the Trenches is a fine, judicious and moving selection of writing ‘reportage, memoir, diaries, letters, fiction and poetry from Australia and New Zealand’ … Dapin shows ways of reckoning with war and implicitly invites us to contrast them … From the Trenches is a rich addition to the literature of Anzac, just at the point where centenary fatigue may be setting in prematurely.” – The Australian
Read the full review HERE.

“Including reportage, memoir, diary entries, poems and letters sent home, this is a collection of war memories that are of such high quality, they transcend their genre to become literature in their own right … This is one of the finest collections of war writing assembled, astutely analysed and sensitively compiled.” – The Weekly Times
Read the full review HERE.


Audio of interview with Mark about From the Trenches on ABC Books & Arts Daily: LISTEN NOW