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The Weekend Australian - Review - - Contents -

IN his re­view of Robert M. Ut­ley’s bi­og­ra­phy of the Apache shaman Geron­imo (‘‘Balanced as­sess­ment of a brave fighter with fa­tal flaws’’, Fe­bru­ary 9-10), Ross Fitzger­ald cor­rectly high­lights ‘‘the hugely dele­te­ri­ous ef­fects of [Apaches’] ad­dic­tion to al­co­hol’’. Recog­ni­tion of this cru­cial fac­tor is not new; it was cov­ered by Amer­i­can aca­demic Angie Debo in her ex­cel­lent 1976 publi­ca­tion, and also in my doc­toral dis­ser­ta­tion of 1998 in which I ex­plained how Geron­imo led only a small group of pe­ri­od­i­cally hos­tile warriors, The Tur­bu­lent Set. Fitzger­ald’s cov­er­age of their in­tox­i­cated be­hav­iour re­quires clar­i­fi­ca­tion. Al­co­hol abuse cer­tainly caused many vi­o­lent Apache ram­pages and reser­va­tion break­outs. How­ever, by the late 19th cen­tury, the ma­jor­ity of them were liv­ing peace­fully. Yet they all paid for Geron­imo’s al­co­hol-fu­elled ac­tions with their own loss of tribal land, stolen gen­er­a­tion of chil­dren and ques­tions over in­dige­nous iden­tity. To­day, many Apaches still blame Geron­imo for this cul­tural de­struc­tion. John Lam­bert Dubbo, NSW LUKE Slat­tery ap­proves Peter Wil­liams’s re­vi­sion­ist The Kokoda Cam­paign 1942: Myth and Re­al­ity and its claim that the Aus­tralians were not fac­ing over­whelm­ing Ja­panese odds on the Kokoda Track (Fo­rum, Fe­bru­ary 2-3); but Wil­liams has his fig­ures wrong. To take one ex­am­ple, he claims the Aus­tralians were out­num­bered by about 11/2 to one at the first bat­tle for Kokoda on July 28, 1942. There were about 100 Aus­tralians (B Com­pany) de­fend­ing Kokoda against the Tsukamoto Force. The of­fi­cial Ja­panese his­tory Sen­shi

Sosho states that the Tsukamoto Force com­prised one in­fantry bat­tal­ion of the 144th Reg­i­ment (usu­ally about 550 men) and one com­pany of the 5th Sasebo Spe­cial Naval

Land­ing Force (430 men). Sen­shi Sosho has the Aus­tralians fac­ing odds of 10 to one. James Bowen Glen Waver­ley, Vic­to­ria EVAN Wil­liams will be trou­bled if Jacki Weaver doesn’t win an Os­car for her per­for­mance in the movie Sil­ver Lin­ings Playbook (‘‘Clouds, clear­ing’’, Fe­bru­ary 2-3). I have seen the trailer sev­eral times and have been sur­prised that Weaver does not rate a men­tion in it. Surely the dis­trib­u­tors would have seen this as a ma­jor sell­ing point in her own back yard? If not, what does it say for her Os­car chances when the win­ners are an­nounced to­mor­row? David Crom­melin Strath­field, NSW I WOULD like to ex­press my dis­ap­point­ment with Evan Wil­liams’s con­clud­ing re­marks in his re­view of Sil­ver Lin­ings Playbook. Wil­liams writes: ‘‘The film would prob­a­bly work just as well, and not look very dif­fer­ent, if the characters were all fit and well and this busi­ness about bipo­lar dis­or­der and sex ad­dic­tion were qui­etly shelved.’’ ‘‘This busi­ness’’ about bipo­lar dis­or­der is a fairly ma­jor yet very mis­un­der­stood and poorly ad­dressed pub­lic health is­sue. The US Na­tional In­sti­tute of Men­tal Health records 2.6 per cent of the adult pop­u­la­tion in that coun­try has the con­di­tion. As is the case with the lead char­ac­ter in Sil­ver Lin­ings Playbook, many suf­fer­ers go un­di­ag­nosed for years and thus are not be­ing treated for it. Why Wil­liams wants the ‘‘quiet shelv­ing’’ of cre­ative at­tempts to as­sist in the de-stig­ma­tis­ing of this con­di­tion is be­yond me. Will Turner Syd­ney To be con­sid­ered for publi­ca­tion, let­ters must con­tain an ad­dress and tele­phone num­ber for ver­i­fi­ca­tion. Let­ters may be edited for length and clar­ity.

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