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War & Escape – 20th Century

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  • Once There Was a War – John Steinbeck –  First Edition 1959

    Once There Was a War – John Steinbeck – First Edition 1959

    John Steinbeck was a war correspondent in Europe in 1943. He went to England and experienced the blitz from a pub, on to North Africa and then Italy. Clear writing with acute observation. Elevated my view of Bob Hope who made many lives easier.

    First edition published by Heinemann, London in 1959. Previously appeared as despatches in the New York Herald Tribune and other newspapers. Octavo, 233 pages. Very good copy albeit with foxing to page edges and a little in the ends. The complete dust jacket has some age but is really a beauty.

    One of the harder Steinbeck edition to find. Given his undoubted talent the “despatches” are very readable, informative and despite the war background often entertaining.

    Steinbeck at ease at war … UK first


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  • The Sea and Me – Humphrey Barton – First edition 1952

    The Sea and Me – Humphrey Barton – First edition 1952

    An unusual maritime book by Marine Surveyor Humphrey Barton. A first edition published by Robert Ross, London in 1952. Octavo, 142 pages nicely illustrated by John Chancellor. Very good condition.

    Fourteen short accounts, all true, from all angles maritime. Involves the vessels Kittiwake, Lady Nanella, Jean II, Dauntless, Monie, Fulruna etc and a M.F.V. during the War

    A super collection of nautical accounts – ideal for evening reading .


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  • The Sea Was Kind – Albert Klestadt

    The Sea Was Kind – Albert Klestadt

    The incredible story of war-time escape from the Philippines to Australia in an open boat, best by the perils of the sea, the Japanese and mutiny.

    Published by Kangaroo Press, a new edition 1988. Having been previously published in 1959.

    Octavo, 208 pages illustrated with period images, charts and diagrams. A very good copy.

    Albert Klestadt sailed with rather dodgy company using a page from a Dutch Atlas as his only chart. Klestadt was a refugee from Germany leaving in the 1930’s for Japan. Just before Japan entered WWII he fled to Manila … but as the Japanese gained ground it was clear that he had to make his escape for Australia … and then the story begins. His inspiration was Captain Bligh.

    War-time escape to Australia – a difficult voyage with a happy ending


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  • Australian Poetry 1942

    Australian Poetry 1942

    Published by Angus and Robertson, Sydney in 1942. Poetry selected by Robert D. Fitzgerald intended to represent the cream of Australian poetry for the year.

    Being a war year, for some a particularly special issue. Numerous poems reflecting on Australian’s overseas … Garry Lyle – To My Brother in the Navy; Shawn O’Leary – The Olive Tree; Maurice Biggs – Battle Dress and The Wounded; John Quinn – Syrian Memory; R.S. Byrnes – Song out of Syria. And others on softer homely themes.. love, the bush …

    Small octavo, 79 pages with 36 pages. Dust Jacket, often missing and in very good condition. Original inscription on end papers.

    Australian Poetry from WWII and at Home


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  • Sepik Pilot –  Wing Commander Bobby Gibbes, DSO, DFC. – James Sinclair – First edition 1971

    Sepik Pilot – Wing Commander Bobby Gibbes, DSO, DFC. – James Sinclair – First edition 1971

    First edition published by Lansdowne, Melbourne in 1971. Octavo, 189 pages with many illustrations from period photographs.

    James Sinclair’s book on the extraordinary life of Bobby Gibbes who flew Tomahawks and Kittyhawks against German and Italian forces in the Western Desert in WWII. Back in Darwin he was Court Martialled for what we would regard as a minor matter.

    A new life opened up for Bobby who went to New Guinea and among other things started an airline “Gibbes Sepik Airways” … at the time quite a challenge … and with all challenges it leads to some remarkable and sometimes amusing stories.

    The Sepik Pilot – New Guinea Legend – Bobby Gibbes


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  • Seven Pillars of Wisdom  – a triumph – T.E. Lawrence (Of Arabia)  –  August 1935

    Seven Pillars of Wisdom – a triumph – T.E. Lawrence (Of Arabia) – August 1935

    Published by Jonathan Cape London 1935 – Seven Pillars of Wisdom a triumph – “The Sword also means Clean-ness + Death”. First trade edition fourth impression August after the July first.

    The Trade Edition preceded by the incomplete “Oxford” edition of 1922 (8 copies only were printed) and the very rare privately printed “Subscribers Edition” of 1927 (170 copies).

    Frontispiece portrait of a bust of Lawrence, 4 folding maps as called for, 2 facsimiles and a total of 54 illustrations – 46 of which are dramatic portraits of men who appear in the book. Albeit without the rare dust jacket this is the cleanest we have seen of this edition. The boards clean and unmarked and only the slightest bit of foxing limited to the rough cut paper edges.

    Lawrence “took pains to bring objects and artists together”. A classic book written by Lawrence after a very successful war leading

    the Arabs against the Turks, considered one of the most important books on war especially political and guerrilla warfare.

    Churchill called it “One of the greatest books ever written in the English language”

    Lawrence of Arabia’s great book. First trade great condition – 1935

    We simply have to give you some of Chapter 1 … “The everlasting battle stripped from us care of our own lives or of others’. We had ropes about our necks, on or heads prices which showed that the enemy intended hideous tortures for us if we were caught. Each day some of us passed; and the living knew themselves just sentient puppets on God’s stage: indeed,, our taskmaster was merciless, merciless, so long as our bruised feet could stagger forward on the road. The weak envied those tired enough to die; for success looked so remote, and failure a near and certain, if sharp, release from toil. We lived always in the stretch or sag of nerves, either on the crest or in the trough of waves of feeling ..


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