Peter Rees: Charles Bean and Len Waters

Peter Rees: Charles Bean and Len Waters

Peter Rees published his biography of Charles Bean in 2015 (Bearing Witness, Allen & Unwin, 2015), a study which, for the first time, captured the essence of this giant in Australian military history. Years of research into the vast Bean archive allowed Rees to produce a warm and deeply moving account of Australia’s most famous war correspondent, the harbinger of the horrors of Gallipoli and the Western Front, and the historian who did much to create the Anzac legend and shape emerging Australian identities in the early years of Federation. By contrast, records on the life of Len Waters, Peter’s most recent biographical subject, are few, although his name has become more prominent with an ADB biography (published 2017), while a stamp featuring his image was commissioned by Australia Post in 1995. Australia’s first Aboriginal fighter pilot, Waters had a stellar air force career, flying 95 sorties in the World War II Pacific sphere. Yet little is known about his life before and after he enlisted.

Peter Rees has written many well-received books particularly on Australian military history including Anzac Girls (2014), Desert Boys (2012), Lancaster Men (2013), and The Other Anzacs (2008). He has also written a biography of former deputy prime minister Tim Fisher (The Boy from Boree Creek, 2001), and an account of the events surrounding the killing of Juanita Nielsen (Killing Juanita, 2004). A number of his books have been turned into films. Having trained as a journalist, Peter worked for forty years as federal political correspondent with the Melbourne Sun, the West Australian, and the Sunday Telegraph. He lives and works in Canberra.

Image gallery

Date & time

Thu 31 Aug 2017, 12–1.30pm


Jean Martin Room, Beryl Rawson Building, no 13, ANU


Peter Rees

Event series


National Centre of Biography


Malcolm Allbrook


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