Rabbits and Spaghetti:
Captives and Comrades: Australians, Italians and the War

Bill Bunbury

Fremantle Arts Centre Press 1995
A book review by Danny Yee © 1995 https://dannyreviews.com/
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).

September 1995

External links:
- buy from Amazon.com
Related reviews:
- books about Australia + Australian history
- books about Italy + Italian history
- books about World War II
- books published by Fremantle Arts Centre Press
%T Rabbits and Spaghetti
%S Captives and Comrades: Australians, Italians and the War
%A Bunbury, Bill
%I Fremantle Arts Centre Press
%D 1995
%O paperback, b&w photographs
%G ISBN 1863681221
%P 216pp