Rabbits and Spaghetti
is about relationships between Italians
and Australians during World War II but away from the battlefront.
Bunbury links quotes from participants speaking "in their own words"
with his own narrative summaries and descriptive passages: his approach
is to narrate the stories of a few individuals in detail. Part one
covers the experiences of Italians as civilian internees in Australia,
where some of them spent the entire war behind fences. Part two follows
Italian soldiers taken prisoner in North Africa and shipped to Australia,
particularly those who worked on the land and later returned with their
families. Part three is about Australian prisoners-of-war in Italy, some
of whom also worked on farms, and part four about those who escaped,
either to safety in Switzerland or to join the Italian resistance.
The postscript completes the story by recounting what happened after
the war to the individuals featured.
Historians may find Rabbits & Spaghetti a little unsatisfactory.
There is no discussion of methodology — how recent are the interviews
from which the quotes are taken? — and no references or bibliography
— at one point Bunbury writes "Japanese aircraft carriers were
investigating landing sites on the south coast of Western Australia",
something I find hard to believe and for which I would have liked to
check his sources. For most people, however, this won't be a problem:
Rabbits & Spaghetti is eminently readable, both well-written and
nicely put together (with some attractive photographs), and should
appeal to a wide audience, not just to those with obvious connections
to the subject (such as Italian Australians interested in their
parents' and grandparents' lives).
- External links:
- buy from Amazon.com
- Related reviews:
- books about Australia + Australian history
- books about Italy + Italian history
- books about war + military history
- books published by Fremantle Arts Centre Press