Fools’ Harvest by Erle Cox


The journalist’s second novel, after Out of the Silence, commissioned by and serialised in The Argus in 1938, deals with an invasion of Western Australia by a predatory power to the North and begins postmodernly with a prologue written by two academics in Canberra in 1975 confirming the veracity of the manuscript that you’re about to read.


In presenting this transcript of the Walter Burton manuscript for publication, the editors desire to remind the reader that its main value lies in its being the longest of the fourteen authentic personal narratives extant descriptive of the Australian debacle of 1939. It should be regarded as supplementary, only, to Major General Marsden’s “Australian Tragedy,” in which the military story of the invasion is dealt with, and to “The Struggle for the Pacific,” by Peel and Everard, who treat the subject from the viewpoint of international historians. It must be remembered that, at the time he wrote, Burton was almost entirely ignorant of the great events that were taking place outside of Australia. His conjectures were governed largely by local conditions, and coloured by an appalling environment. His assumptions were, therefore, at times either partially or totally inaccurate.


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