Australia and Appeasement: Imperial Foreign Policy and the Origins of World War II

Author(s): Christopher Waters


On 3 September 1939, Robert Menzies, the Australian Prime Minister, broadcast to the Australian people the news that their country was at war with Germany. He outlined how every effort had been made to maintain the peace by keeping the door open to a negotiated settlement. However, as these efforts had failed, the British Empire was now 'involved in a struggle which we must at all costs win, and which we believe in our hearts we will win'. Christopher Waters here examines Australia's role in Britain's policy of appeasement from the time Hitler came to power in 1933 through to the declaration of war in September 1939. Focusing on the five leading figures in the Australian governments of the 1930s - Joe Lyons, Stanley Bruce, Robert Menzies, Billy Hughes and Richard Casey - Waters examines their responses to the rise of Hitler and the growing threat of fascism in Europe. Australian governments accepted the principle that the Empire must speak with one voice on foreign policy and were therefore intimately involved in the decisions taken by successive governments in London. As such, this book provides new insights into the making of imperial foreign policy in the inter-war era, imperial history, the origins of World War II and Australian history.


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'This is the first book-length study of Australia and appeasement undertaken for over thirty years and the first ever to base itself thoroughly on the complete archival record. It documents the arch-appeasement policy of the Lyons and Menzies governments, guided by former prime minister, S.M. Bruce, who held the pivotal post of high commissioner in London; a policy often in advance of, or more extreme than, that of the Chamberlain government in Britain. This is a conscientious and worthwhile study and it deserves to be widely-read.' - Carl Bridge, Director of the Menzies Centre for Australian Studies, King's College London; 'This is the best researched account of Australian policy to the European crises of the second half of the 1930s yet written. The author has been meticulous in locating all the relevant primary records relating to the subject in archival holdings in Australia and the United Kingdom. The depth of the research and the high quality of its writing will make this book an indispensable addition not only to Australian historiography but also to the study of British foreign policy in the interwar period.' - David Lee, author of Stanley Bruce: Australian Internationalist

Christopher Waters is Senior Lecturer in Twentieth Century International History at Deakin University, Australia. He has published widely on Australian international history, Anglo-Australian relations and Australian political history and his publications include The Empire Fractures: Anglo-Australian Conflict in the 1940s; Evatt to Evans: The Labor Tradition in Australian Foreign Policy (joint editor); and Ministers, Mandarins and Diplomats: Australian Foreign Policy Making 1941-1969 (co-author). A review in the Canberra Times described The Empire Fractures as 'a most impressive first book'.

General Fields

  • : 9781848859982
  • : I.B.Tauris & Co Ltd
  • : I.B.Tauris
  • : October 2011
  • : 216mm X 134mm X 30mm
  • : United Kingdom
  • : December 2011
  • : books

Special Fields

  • : 1211
  • : 994.042
  • : 320
  • : 10 integrated bw illustrations
  • : Christopher Waters
  • : Hardback