Empire Australasia


ALAN FURST, THE fabulous novelist of World War II occupations and spies, sets his books in the war years before the Nazi defeat at Stalingrad because, up until then, the German army seemed invincible and Nazi Germany was sure to rule one side of the world. The Japanese Empire, with its sudden attack of Pearl Harbor, other bases and civilian populations across the Pacific, had conquered the territory it called The Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere. Furst’s characters, then, have but three choices on how to conduct their lives — as heroes, as villains or as cowards.

Now, that is a harsh sentence to pass onto the kids and old folks who were alive then, but it does capture the personal dramas that I find so relentlessly fascinating, human and worthy of telling in movies. The War (yeah, in capital letters) had no end date in sight, the Bad guys were winning, and matters as broad as who lived and who died, and as common as how much bread and bacon would be on store shelves, were daily worries for most of the people on the planet.

Until the Covid-19 virus affected us all, living in a state of stasis

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