Defence Supremo

Sir Frederick Sheddon and the making of Australian defence policy

David Horner
AUD $49.95
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Availability: Out of print

A biography of Frederick Sheddon, the man who dominated the Australian defence organisation for some twenty years during a crucial period in this country's history, from one of our leading historians.

Defence Supremo tells the little-known but dramatic story of the most powerful figure in Australian defence policy-making during a crucial period of the nation's history. Sir Frederick Shedden was Secretary of the Defence Department from 1937 to 1956 - including the Second World War, the onset of the Cold War and Australia's commitment to the Korean War and the Malayan Emergency.

Shedden's role went far beyond that of the traditional public servant. He was a central player in some of the most important events in Australian history. He was the key confidant of the Second World War Prime Ministers Robert Menzies and John Curtin, accompanying them in discussions with Prime Minister Winston Churchill and President Franklin Roosevelt. As secretary of the War Cabinet and the Advisory war Council, he was at the heart of the national defence effort when Australia was under threat of invasion. He became the trusted link between Curtin and American General Douglas MacArthur.

Shedden dominated the Australian defence organisation for two decades and, some argued, usurped the powers of the military chiefs. By the late1940s terms such as 'civilian commander-in-chief', 'defence supremo' and 'defence czar' were used about him.

Shedden's remarkable story is essential background for understanding the development of Australian defence organisation and policy, and has great relevance for current policy-makers.

Author bio:

David Horner is one of Australia's leading military historians. A graduate of the Royal Military College, Duntroon, who served as an infantry platoon commander in Vietnam, Colonel Horner is the author or editor of over twenty books including Blamey: The Commander-in-Chief (1998). He is currently the professor in Australian defence history in the Strategic and Defence Studies Centre at the Australian National University.

Category: Other books
ISBN: 9781865082806
Table Of Contents: Maps




1. Education of a public servant: 1893-1929

2. Shaping defence policy: 1929-1937

3. Preparing for war: November 1937-September 1939

4. War Cabinet Secretary: September 1939-October 1940

5. Strategic complexities: October 1940-October 1941

6. A new government and a new war: October 1941-March 1942

7. Arrival of the Americans: march 1942-March 1943

8. Managing Australia's war effort: February 1943-March 1944

9. Washington and London: April-October 1944

10. The last year of war: October 1944-September 1945

11. The postwar defence policy: September 1945-December 1947

12. The Chifley government and the Cold War: January 1948-December 1949

13. The Menzies government and the Cold War: December 1949-December 1953

14. The decline of a defence supremo: January 1954-October 1956

15. The magnum opus: 1956-1971

Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Imprint: Allen & Unwin
Pub Date: June 2000
Format: Book
Subject: Biography & True Stories

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