Peter Stanley (born 1956) is an Australian historian and Research Professor at the University of New South Wales in the Australian Centre for the Study of Armed Conflict and Society. He was Head of the Centre for Historical Research at the National Museum of Australia from 2007–13. Between 1980 and 2007 he was an historian and curator at the Australian War Memorial, including as head of the Historical Research Section and Principal Historian from 1987. He has written several books about Australia and the Great War since 2005 (Quinn's Post, Anzac, Gallipoli, Men of Mont St Quentin, Bad Characters and Digger Smith and Australia's Great War, with others in train).
Peter Stanley was born in Liverpool, UK, and migrated to Whyalla, South Australia, with his family in 1966. He attended the Australian National University and has three degrees from it, a BA (1977), Litt. B. (1984) and PhD (1993).
Stanley has published twenty five books, mainly in Australian military history, with a strong bent towards social history. He has also written on the military history of British India, and has published a book on British surgery in the final decades of surgery before the introduction of anaesthesia, and on the effects of bushfire on an Australian community. His writing expresses his concern to integrate operational and social approaches within military history and relates in one way or another to the theme of human experience in extreme situations.
His historical ventures also include leading the Memorial's Borneo battlefield tour, 1997; Commentator, ABC television broadcast of Anzac Day march, Sydney, 1998–2001; Historical advisor, television series Australians at War (Beyond Productions, 1999–2001); Commentator, Anzac Day national ceremony, Canberra, 2002–06; Leader, Australian War Memorial-Imperial War Museum Joint Study Tour to Crete and Egypt, Sep 2002; Presenter, Revealing Gallipoli, December Films, Apr 2005; Participant, National Summit on History Education, Canberra, Aug 2006; Commentator, ABC television broadcast national ceremony Anzac Day, Canberra, 2007–10. In 2008 he appeared in the documentaries Monash: the Forgotten Anzac and the 4 Corners report on The Great Great History War and Wain Fimeri's recent Charles Bean's Great War. In 2011 he participated in the Shine/Channel 9 series In Their Footsteps as an historical consultant and an on-screen presenter, and contributed to an episode of Who do you think you are? in 2013.
He has recently been a major participant in a public debate regarding the "Battle for Australia", contesting opinions that events in Darwin in 1942 during the Second World War represented Japan's intention to invade Australia. He argues that the wartime slogan of a 'battle for Australia', used by John Curtin in February 1942 in anticipating invasion by Japan, was taken up in the mid-1990s and applied unjustifiably.
In his work at the National Museum of Australia Peter Stanley wrote a book about the effects of the 2009 bushfires on a small rural community in Victoria, Black Saturday at Steels Creek (published in 2013 by Scribe Publications). He is contributing to a volume on Australia and the Great War in the 'new Bean' series for Oxford University Press, and part of a chapter in the forthcoming Cambridge History of Australia.
Stanley writes as a freelance author and in the course of his employment. A recent book is a novel for children, Simpson's Donkey (Murdoch Books, Sydney, 2011). Future books include Fortitude, a revised popular edition of his 2003 book For Fear of Pain, and Lost Boys of Anzac, a book looking at the men of the 3rd Brigade who died on 25 April 1915. His most recent military history book, one surveying the Australian experience of the Great War, is told entirely through the lives and words of people called Smith or Schmidt – Digger Smith and Australia's Great War published by Murdoch/Pier 9 in October 2011. Stanley has been contracted to publish Lost Boys of Anzac with NewSouth in 2015, and Die in battle: Do not Despair: Indians on Gallipoli, 1915 with Helion (UK). He is also editing Welch Calypso, Tom Stevens's memoir of his time in the West Indies in the early 1950s, also for Helion.
- Black Saturday at Steels Creek (Scribe Publications, Melbourne, 2013)
- Digger Smith and Australia's Great War (Murdoch/Pier 9, Sydney, 2011)
- Simpson's Donkey(Murdoch/Pier 9, Sydney, 2011)
- Bad Characters: Sex, Crime, Mutiny, Murder and the Australian Imperial Force (Murdoch/Pier 9, Sydney, 2010)
- Commando to Colditz: Micky Burn's Journey to the Far Side of Tears – The Raid on St Nazaire (Murdoch/Pier 9, Australia, 2009)
- Men of Mont St Quentin: Between Victory and Death (Scribe, Australia, 2009)
- A Stout Pair of Boots: A Guide to Exploring Australia's Battlefields (Allen & Unwin Australia, 2008)
- Invading Australia: Japan and the Battle for Australia, 1942 (Viking Penguin, 2008)
- Borneo, 1942–1945, Department of Veterans’ Affairs, Canberra, 2005
- Quinn's Post: Anzac, Gallipoli (Allen & Unwin Australia, 2005. ISBN 1-74114-332-2)
- Whyalla at War 1939–45 (Whyalla City Council, 2004)
- For Fear of Pain: British Surgery 1790–1850 (Editions Rodopi, Amsterdam, in association with the Wellcome Institute for the History of Medicine, London, 2003)
- (with others) Stolen Years: Australian Prisoners of War, Department of Veterans’ Affairs, Canberra, 2002
- White Mutiny: British Military Culture in India, 1825–75 (Christopher Hurst & Co, London/New York University Press, 1998. ISBN 1-85065-330-5)
- Tarakan: an Australian Tragedy (Allen & Unwin Australia, 1997)
- (with Mark Johnston) Alamein: the Australian Story, Oxford University Press, Melbourne, 2002 & 2006
- Rosemary and Wattle: the Roll of Honour, Hall of Memory and Tomb of the Unknown Australian Soldier at the Australian War Memorial, Australian War Memorial, 1993
- The Remote Garrison: the British Army in Australia, 1788–1870, Kangaroo Press, Sydney, 1987
- Air Battle Europe 1939–45, Time-Life Books, Sydney, 1987
- (with Michael McKernan) Anzac Day 70 years on, Collins, Sydney, 1986
- A Guide to the Australian War Memorial, John Ferguson, Sydney, 1986
- (with others), Roll Call! A Guide to Genealogical Sources in the Australian War Memorial, AWM, 1986
- Bomber Command, Hodder & Staughton, Sydney, 1985
- (ed.) But little glory: the New South Wales contingent to the Sudan, 1885, Military Historical Society of Australia, Canberra, 1985
- (with Michael McKernan) Australians at War, 1885–1972: photographs from the collection of the Australian War Memorial, Collins, Sydney, 1984
- (ed.) What did you do in the war, Daddy?, Oxford University Press, Melbourne, 1983
- He was black, he was a White man, and a dinkum Ausie': race and empire in revisiting the Anzac legend, in Santanu Das, (ed.), Race, Empire and First World War Writing, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2011
- Dramatic myth and dull truth: invasion by Japan in 1942 in Craig Stockings, (ed.) Zombie Myths of Australian Military History, NewSouth, Sydney, 2010
- Threat made manifest (Griffith Review, Spring 2005, pp. 13–24)
- The men who did the fighting are now all busy writing: Australian post-mortems on defeat in Malaya and Singapore, 1942–45 in B Farrell and S Hunter (eds), Sixty Years On: the Fall of Singapore Revisited (Eastern Universities Press, Singapore, 2003)
- Great in adversity: Indian prisoners of war in New Guinea (Journal of the Australian War Memorial, 2002, no. 37)
- Diversity of visitors, diversity of interpretation: the Australian War Memorial's Second World War gallery, in D McIntyre and K Wehner (eds), National Museums Negotiating Histories (Canberra, 2001)
- Military culture and military protest: the Bengal Europeans and the "White Mutiny" of 1859, in J Hathaway (ed.), Rebellion, Repression, Reinvention: Mutiny in Comparative Perspective (Prager, Westort, 2001)
- ‘The green hole: exploring our neglect of the New Guinea campaigns of 1943–44’, Sabretache: Journal of the Military Historical Society of Australia, Apr–Jun 1993, pp. 3–11
- A horn to put your powder in: interpreting artefacts of British soldiers in colonial Australia (Journal of the Australian War Memorial, Oct 1988, pp. 13–29)
- Soldiers and fellow countrymen in colonial Australia', in Margaret Browne and Michael McKernan, Australia: Two Centuries of War and Peace (Australian War Memorial, Canberra, 1988)
- "Two books share the spoils in 2010–11 Prime Minister's Prize for Australian History". Press release. The Hon Peter Garrett MP. Retrieved 7 December 2011.
- Peter Stanley's website
- Biography at National Museum of Australia
- What Battle for Australia?, article and discussion on ABC Unleashed, 3 September 2008
- Was there a Battle for Australia?, transcript of oration, Australian War Memorial, 2006