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1942 was the year of Australia's greatest peril – as Darwin was destroyed by bombing, Australian ships were torpedoed within sight of our coast, midget Japanese submarines attacked shipping in Sydney Harbour, and the Japanese army invaded New Guinea on its inexorable march south. This is the real story of the genuine and imminent threat to Australia in that fateful year.

On the beautiful Inland Sea of Japan – the heartland of the Imperial Japanese Navy – and in frenetic wartime Tokyo, zealous staff officers and their illogical admirals debated the invasion of an almost defenceless nation. The Imperial Japanese Army, meanwhile, opposed the attack, foreseeing a looming military quagmire. In Australia, Allied defence chiefs all but dismissed the chances of holding Darwin. For months, Australia's fate hung in the balance.

1942 is a story of desperate bravery and criminal stupidity. Most of all, it is the story of Australians left high and dry, under the looming shadow of a terrible invasion, and the steps that an inexperienced leader, John Curtin, took to save his country in its darkest days.

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