Documents that Shaped Australia: Records of a nation’s heritage
Pier 9, $49.95 hb, 376 pp
For many undergraduate students of Australian history in the 1960s (when there were still plenty of them), the set text was not a narrative history but Manning Clark’s Select Documents in Australian History (1950, 1955). Dry but fascinating, the documents covered the period from 1788–1900. First published more than a decade before the opening volume of Clark’s A History of Australia, here were the bones of the research for that work. In his introduction to Documents That Shaped Australia: Records of a Nation’s Heritage, John Thompson acknowledges Clark and Frank Crowley’s Modern Australia in Documents (1973). He has, however, done something different. This book has a smaller number of items than its predecessors, but it is attractively and extensively illustrated (usually, but not always, with photographs of the documents). No doubt Thompson’s publisher, Pier 9, thought of school library sales for the book. It is a hope that deserves to be rewarded.