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Empire, War, Tennis and Me

“The story of the first 70 years of lawn tennis (1875-1945),” the eminent immunologist and Nobel laureate Peter Doherty tells us in Empire, War, Tennis and Me, “is embedded in much bigger narratives about imperialist ambitions that led to smaller conflicts and then to both WWI and WWII.” The story of his uncles Charlie and Jack Byford, “keen tennis players” who volunteered to fight “for Australia and Empire” in World War II, prompted the writing of this hybrid of history and memoir. Charlie was taken prisoner by the Japanese in Changi, shipped to the Burma Railway and died when his POW transport ship from Burma to Japan was sunk by the Allies. Jack, too, had his share of the horrors of war, including on the Kokoda Track, but survived.

For those less familiar with the history of tennis than that of the world wars, a highlight of the book is the story of how “royal…

Read more at www.thesaturdaypaper.com.au

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