The Sentimental Nation: The making of the Australian Commonwealth by John Hirst

Reviewed by
February–March 2001, no. 228
Geoffrey Bolton reviews 'The Sentimental Nation: The making of the Australian Commonwealth' by John Hirst

The Sentimental Nation: The making of the Australian Commonwealth

by John Hirst

Oxford University Press, $34.95 hb, 388 pp, 019550620 0

The Sentimental Nation: The making of the Australian Commonwealth by John Hirst

Reviewed by
February–March 2001, no. 228

When John Hirst accepted the challenge of writing a history of Federation of scholarly quality but fit for a broad popular readership, he may have felt himself on a hiding to nothing. Previous historians have succeeded in convincing Australians that the story of the making of the Australian Commonweal this at best dull. Who wants to know about a collection of hirsute, largely overweight and overdressed middle-class politicians arguing about the nexus between the Senate and the House of Representatives?

Unlike the Americans, we did not begin with a ringing declaration of independence from Mother England. Unlike the French Revolution, we offer no images of impassioned crowds storming Pentridge. ‘Advance Australia Fair’ is no substitute for the Marseillaise. Unlike the old Soviet Union, our constitution contains no mission statement of community values and aspirations, and some, such as Don Watson, argue that we are the poorer for it.


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Geoffrey Bolton reviews 'The Sentimental Nation: The making of the Australian Commonwealth' by John Hirst

The Sentimental Nation: The making of the Australian Commonwealth

by John Hirst

Oxford University Press, $34.95 hb, 388 pp, 019550620 0

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