News & views
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.