ANZAC COVE TO HOLLYWOOD
master of deception
by Jeff Brownrigg
with a Foreword by Tim
Postage & Handling $7.50 Australia &
Outside Australasia $15.00
Signaller Tom Skeyhill landed at Anzac Cove on the morning of 25 April 1915.
Quickly recognising danger, he feigned blindness to escape. Wearing
smoked-glass goggles he returned to Australia as the ‘blind
soldier-poet’. In 1917 he joined the War fundraising effort in the
USA, eventually writing the war diary of Sergeant Alvin C. York,
America’s most decorated WWI hero. Tom’s book became Howard Hawks’
film, Sergeant York, for which Gary Cooper won his first
Oscar in the title role. Spinning exaggerated and often erroneous
tales, Tom’s public lectures proved to be excellent theatre but
truthfulness was a casualty of Tom’s restless ambition; an ambition
which eventually brought him down.
Brownrigg’s lively biography of Skeyhill follows the thread of Tom’s
life in Australia, the Middle East and the USA. The result of years
of sleuthing in the manuscript collections of the University of
Iowa, as well as dozens of newspapers and other archives, this is a
book of unusual interest for WWI historians, the lure of Hollywood
and for anybody who is interested in human nature.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dr Jeff Brownrigg is
Associate Professor of Cultural Heritage Studies at the University of
Canberra. Formerly Head of Research and Outreach at Australia’s National
Film and Sound Archive, he is in a unique position to analyse Tom
Skeyhill’s life and writings. Jeff’s previous books include A New Melba?
The Tragedy of Amy Castles (2006) and Echoes of Irish Australia:
Rebellion to Republic (ed. 2008). In 2001 he was awarded a Commonwealth
Centenary Medal for his services as Australia’s wandering national
historian for the Centenary of Federation and is the 2010 Communicator
of the Year for the Canberra region.
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