The tragedy and violence of that event provide the climax to this very personal, moving and surprisingly romantic story. With remarkable skill and in achingly beautiful prose, Roger McDonald takes the reader on an archetypal Australian journey which parallels the nation's progress from its country childhood, through the adolescent exuberance of its young cities, to initiation on one of the world's ancient battlefields. It is a vital journey, haunted by menace and disillusionment, one embedded in our national mythology.This astonishing first novel, published to great critical acclaim in 1979 and since then selling over 100,000 copies, tells the story of two boys from the bush, the thoughtful and awkward Walter and his knowing friend Billy Mackenzie, and their girls Frances and Diana. Together they discover a future which seems full of promise, drawing them into the exciting turmoil of passion and war. But theirs is a fateful alliance, in a world all too quickly, with an outcome they never could have foreseen.