The century that has elapsed since the 1915 Dardanelles campaign has done little to quell the debate that rages over its inglorious end. The origins of the campaign are likewise the subject of ongoing scrutiny, particularly the role of First Sea Lord Winston Churchill, with whom the ill-fated campaign has been closely identified. Tom Curran’s The Grand Deception: Churchill and the Dardanelles presents a detailed examination of Churchill’s role in the decision-making process that led to the Gallipoli landings.
Using unpublished British archival sources and a range of additional material, both contemporary and modern, Curran’s meticulous research casts new light on the lead-up to a campaign that would profoundly affect Australian military history. Curran portrays Churchill as disingenuous and interfering, a man who disregarded the advice of his commanders to champion a risky military enterprise. With the spectre of failure looming large, he attempted to shift ultimate blame for the fiasco to Admiral Jackie Fisher and General Horatio Kitchener in a bid to salvage his political career, obscuring his own role by rewriting the history of the campaign. Curran’s hard-hitting account reveals the machinations behind the campaign, his careful research creating a new perspective on an extraordinary period of history. For the first time, the story of Churchill’s role in the Dardanelles campaign is told in its entirety, adding a crucial chapter to the chronicle of Australia’s baptism of fire.