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Camouflage Australia: Art, nature, science and war Paperback – September 19, 2011
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It is easy to think of camouflage as inseparable from, or even a signifier of, the modern military, but as Elias makes clear, how the military adopted camouflage in Australia during WWII is a story well worth telling. It is a story about the transformation of military models of masculinity, where the question turned on whether or not it was manly to conceal oneself on the battlefield. It is a story about a charismatic scientist, William Dakin, who regarded the theatre of war as the arena in which primitive instincts prevailed and biological destiny was played out. And then it is a story about the artists, designers and architects - Frank Hinder, Max Dupain and nearly a hundred others - who struggled with the problems of spatiality and visual perception to create the types of camouflage that could be used in different environments.
Elias uses the volatile relationships, the interinstitutional rivalries and the sometimes, nutty ideas, all forged in the laboratory of war, to bring history to life. Like the best historical research, this is a book that illuminates the present because the material is as relevant now as it was in WWII. Beautifully written, detailed and just packed with great illustrations, this is a book that sneaks up on the reader because Elias is, herself, a skilled camoufleur.