The year 1942 represents the first time that the shadows of war from a great power conflict touched the shores of Australia. The bombing of Darwin and the Japanese air offensive against northern Australia, the attack on Sydney Harbour and the battles for the air, land and sea gap to Australia’s north occurred within a critical period of Australia’s history. This critical year is the focus of this text. Specifically, it concentrates on Australia after the fall of Malaya and Singapore through to the end of the battle for the Beachheads at Gona, Buna and Sanananda in January 1943. This period was described by the then Prime Minister, John Curtin, as the ‘battle for Australia’ and includes the creation of the South West Pacific Area (SWPA) under US General Douglas MacArthur, the defence of the air and sea approaches to Australia, the mass arrival of US forces in Australia and the campaigns in Papua and the Solomon Islands. Australia 1942: In the Shadow of War is a military history but the need to contextualise and provide for a broad understanding of the events of this year means that its coverage often roams beyond the strict confines of time, location and discipline, at times taking in such perspectives as politics, social relations and cultural experience. The book is written for a general audience, as well as students of history and scholars. The intention is to be both accessible and scholarly – never an easy task, but one that I believe has been achieved. This edited collection of work is designed to provide a coherent story of Australia’s experiences in 1942. However, the whole is only a sum of its parts and in order to appease the reader who desires to read chapters in order of interest rather than number, each chapter has been designed, where possible, to provide a comprehensible stand-alone piece of the wider story.