Prior, Robin

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Prior, Robin


ADDRESSES: Office—Australian Defense Force Academy, University of New South Wales, Canberra, Australian Capital Territory 2600, Australia. E-mail[email protected].

CAREER: Historian, educator, and writer. Australian Defense Force Academy, University of New South Wales, Canberra, Australia, associate professor and head of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences.



Churchill's World Crisis As History, Croom Helm (London, England), 1983.

(With Trevor Wilson) Command on the Western Front: The Military Career of Sir Henry Rawlinson, 1914–1918, Basil Blackwell (Cambridge, MA), 1992, reprinted, Pen & Sword Books (Barnsley, South Yorkshire, England), 2004.

(With Trevor Wilson) Passchendaele: The Untold Story, Yale University Press (New Haven, CT), 1996, 2nd edition, 2002.

(With Trevor Wilson) The First World War, edited by John Keegan, Cassell (London, England), 1999, Smithsonian Books (Washington, DC), 2004.

(With Trevor Wilson) The Somme, Yale University Press (New Haven, CT), 2005.

Contributor to the Oxford Companion to Australian Military History, Oxford University Press (Melbourne, Australia), 1995.

SIDELIGHTS: Robin Prior is a historian whose primary interest is the military history of World War I, specifically concerning commanders and their competence and how technology impacted both the tactics and economics of the war. Prior has written several books with Trevor Wilson, including Passchendaele: The Untold Story. Drawing on previously unavailable material from a variety of sources, including documents from the Public Record Office in Kew and the Australian War Memorial, the authors provide new insight into one of the First World War's most legendary encounters. The Battle of Passchendaele in Flanders resulted in the deaths of approximately 275,000 Allied and 200,000 German soldiers. Writing in History: Review of New Books, Agnes F. Peterson noted that previous books about the battle have been written but that Passchendaele "makes its own contribution by concentrating on military plans and decisions rather than on human interest stories." Peterson added: "The text is clearly and succinctly written, and the arguments and explanations are persuasive, underpinned by excellent maps."

In their book The First World War, Prior and Trevor Wilson offer a look at the ground conflicts and battles on the European fronts. Writing in the Library Journal, James Tasato Mellone commented: "It is fitting at the close of the twentieth century that some thought be given to the initial calamity that set the century upon its destructive course." Prior is also a contributor to The Oxford Companion to Australian Military History, which Journal of the Royal Australian Historical Society contributor Ralph Sutton called "a valuable military history reference source."

Prior and Trevor Wilson focus on another historical battle in their book The Somme. In addition to writing about the infamous day of July 1, 1916, when 19,240 British soldiers died out of a total of 57,470 casualties, the authors explore the remaining months of battle as well. In their account, the authors make the case that the British effort to take the Somme was misconceived and did not stop the forward progress of the Germans into Romania. They further criticize the effort by noting that the British command could still have called off the battle, which continued to rage after that fateful day. Frederic Krome, writing in the Library Journal, pointed out that the authors go against the accepted historical account of soldiers being forced to march off to their doom, "replacing it with a picture of poor tactical coherence among the British commanders and faulty battle preparations." A Contemporary Review contributor wrote: "This is a magisterial piece of scholarship … presented in a clear, balanced and straightforward manner."



Contemorary Review, July, 2005, review of The Somme, p. 64.

History: Review of New Books, spring, 1997, Agnes F. Peterson, review of Passchendaele: The Untold Story, p. 123.

Journal of the Royal Australian Historical Society, June, 1998, Ralph Sutton, review of The Oxford Companion to Australian Military History, p. 97.

Library Journal, May 1, 2000, James Tasato Mellone, review of The First World War, p. 133; May 1, 2005, Frederic Krome, review of The Somme, p. 102.

Sabretache, September, 2005, Anthony Staunton, review of The Somme, p. 61.

Spectator, July 9, 2005, Alan Judd, review of The Somme, p. 37.


Australian Defense Force Academy, University of New South Wales Web site, (March 10, 2006), faculty profile of author.