This was the headline of a review of Compton Mackenzie’s Gallipoli Memories in theManchester Evening Chronicle in November 1929.1 Newspapers refer to ‘making history’ to denote events of great significance that will be remembered in the years to come. Implicit within this idea is the assumption that some things are worth remembering and some are not. What is the basis for this selection? For the Manchester Evening Chronicle it was the actions of a local unit during the war when ‘the East Lancashire Territorial division covered itself with glory in that mistaken but stirring exploit in which many thousands of lives were sacrificed’. This book is about the process of selection and interpretation that is
apparent in the construction of narratives of the past, or, as it might be put (using the phrase in a slightly different sense), in making history. More specifically, it is concerned with the variety of histories of the Gallipoli campaign of 1915 that have been constructed. The decision to write the history of an event, and the nature of the account produced, will be affected by context. Historical accounts are social documents, deeply imbued with the attitudes and agendas of each author and the circumstances in which they are writing. In E.H. Carr’s example, history is like a mountain; it can take on different shapes from different angles of vision (but it cannot be said to have ‘either no shape at all or an infinity of shapes’).2 This book takes one object, the Gallipoli campaign of 1915, and explores the way in which it has been portrayed and remembered from a range of viewpoints. The April 2001 symposium,3 where many of these papers were first
presented, explored the reasons for historians’ seemingly endless fascination with the campaign. What is it about Gallipoli that impels reassessment and therefore the publication of so many texts? The result of these discussions is a book of our time that explores the effect of a range of contexts on history writings that ostensibly address the same subject matter. Using Gallipoli as a case study to observe the process of ‘making
history’ is thus an opportunity to reflect upon the relationship between war, society and history.