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Nicholas Brown

Nicholas Brown

Nicholas Brown is a professor in the School of History, ANU, with research interests encompassing Australian history, with a particular focus on twentieth-century social, environmental, and biographical history, and on historical perspectives on public policy development and processes. His most recent book is A History of Canberra (Cambridge University Press, 2014).

Nicholas Brown reviews 'Daisy Bates: Grand Dame of the Desert' by Bob Reece and 'Desert Queen: The Many Lives and Loves of Daisy Bates' by Susanna de Vries

April 2008, no. 300 01 April 2008
In the wake of the Commonwealth parliament’s apology to the ‘stolen generations’, what are we to make of Daisy Bates (1859–1951) – especially given that, in the past year, two new biographical studies have appeared, indicating, more than fifty years after er death, an enduring fascination with her commitment to ‘render the passing of the Aborigines easier’? Bates will not ( as Ann S ... (read more)

Nicholas Brown reviews 'Chasing The Flame: Sergio Vieira De Mello and the fight to save the world' by Samantha Power

September 2008, no. 304 01 September 2008
This is a heavy book with which to make a leap of faith: to trust that one life can make a difference in the deeply compromised pursuit of international justice and security. In the epilogue to her biography of Sergio Vieira de Mello, Samantha Power suggests ‘if there was anyone who could have wrung from the UN whatever reform and promise it could muster, it was he’. In this long book, depicti ... (read more)

Nicholas Brown reviews 'Andrew Fisher: An underestimated man' by Peter Bastian

September 2009, no. 314 01 September 2009
Andrew Fisher fares well in the new Museum of Australian Democracy, at Old Parliament House, Canberra. The entrance to the galleries is framed, on one side, by E. Phillips Fox’s dark 1913 portrait of an imposing and resolute Fisher, in contrast to the garish, spreading corpulence of George Lambert’s 1924 Sir George Reid on the other. Inside, in the procession of prime ministers, Fisher is repr ... (read more)

Nicholas Brown reviews 'The Governors of New South Wales 1788–2010' edited by David Clune and Ken Turner

March 2010, no. 319 01 March 2010
A couple of anniversaries explain the occasion of this collection: one hundred and fifty years of responsible government in New South Wales, and the bicentenary of Lachlan Macquarie’s arrival as the governor who, Brian Fletcher argues, has had the most ‘persistent hold over public consciousness’ in reflecting the ambiguities of a convict colony. The volume is framed by Rod Cavalier’s forew ... (read more)

Nicholas Brown reviews ‘I Wonder’: The life and work of Ken Inglis' edited by Peter Browne and Seumas Spark

May 2020, no. 421 27 April 2020
I am ashamed to recall that when our high-school history class in the late 1970s was set K.S. Inglis’s The Australian Colonists (1974), I – and I don’t think I was alone – didn’t quite know what to do with a text that focused on ‘ceremonies, monuments and rhetoric’, one that began as a study on 26 January 1788 but worked back as an historical enquiry from 25 April 1915. Inglis decla ... (read more)