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Norman Etherington

Norman Etherington was educated at Yale University and came to Australia as a lecturer in history at the University of Adelaide in 1968. He is a past president of the Australian Historical Association and Emeritus Professor of History at the University of Western Australia, and continues to write on British Imperial and African History. His recent publications include Missions and Empire (Oxford University Press, 2007), Mapping Colonial Conquest: Australia and Southern Africa (UWA Publishing, 2007), and articles for the American Historical Review and the Journal of African History.

Norman Etherington reviews 'Replenishing The Earth: The Settler Revolution And The Rise Of The Anglo-World, 1783–1939' by James Belich

December 2009–January 2010, no. 317 01 December 2009
It is always a pleasure to sit down with a fat book by New Zealand historian James Belich. He writes with verve and takes a big-picture view of the past, giving you plenty to think about and, better still, much to argue with. Until lately he has been mainly known for his fine-grained histories of New Zealand and its Maori Wars. Now he ascends to the stratosphere for an Olympian survey of white fol ... (read more)

Norman Etherington reviews 'Lost Worlds: Latin America and the imagining of empire' by Kevin Foster

June 2010, issue no. 322 01 June 2010
Start with the cover, cunningly designed to provoke a double take. What at first glance appears to be a cigar-chomping Mexican bandido in an oversized sombrero proves, on closer examination, to be a grinning British soldier celebrating victory in the Falklands. All he needs to go Latin is a big hat, a bullet-studded bandolier and a cigar. Three props conjure a chuck wagon full of clichés. The som ... (read more)

Norman Etherington reviews 'A Merciless Place: The lost story of Britain’s convict disaster in Africa and how it led to the settlement of Australia' by Emma Christopher

September 2010, no. 324 01 September 2010
Unsurprisingly, Australia leads the world in the production of close-grained studies of convicts sentenced to transportation. Since 1788, it’s what we do. Emma Christopher proves herself to be a crackerjack at tracking down just about anyone who ever stood before an eighteenth-century court. She reels off their crimes, social origins, associates, aliases, lovers, victims, favourite haunts and pr ... (read more)

Norman Etherington reviews 'The Princeton Companion to Atlantic History' Edited by Joseph C. Miller

April 2016, no. 380 29 March 2016
Atlantic history and the closely related phrase 'Atlantic World' refer to a geographical/historical way of thinking about interactions among peoples of Europe, Africa, and the Americas between about 1500 and 1900. Practitioners of Atlantic history, like other scholars washed up from the wreck of nation-based historical writing, find it impossible to comprehend the processes that made the modern wo ... (read more)

Norman Etherington reviews 'The Last Blank Spaces: Exploring Africa and Australia' by Dane Kennedy

June 2013, no. 352 27 May 2013
Dane Kennedy reminds us that not so long ago exploring held an honoured place among recognised professions. Today, though, the job is extinct. For about a century and a half, the business of exploration was most vigorously pursued in Africa and Australia, yet among the thousands of volumes devoted to exploring expeditions on each continent, this is the first to take a comparative approach. My own ... (read more)

Norman Etherington reviews 'History in the Making' by J.H. Elliott

February 2013, no. 348 25 January 2013
A million people thronged the streets of Barcelona on 11 September 2012, clamouring for liberty. This had been their special day long before 9/11. Like Gallipoli, it commemorates a defeat: the rout of the Catalans and their Austrian Hapsburg allies by the Bourbon monarch Philip V of Spain on 11 September 1714 in the closing stages of the War of the Spanish Succession. How could something that occu ... (read more)

Norman Etherington reviews 'Vanished Kingdoms: The History of Half-Forgotten Europe' by Norman Davies

November 2012, no. 346 24 October 2012
Norman Davies illustrates the literary life available to a score or so of living historians whose works at one time or another made the bestseller lists. Like Simon Schama, Niall Ferguson, and Paul Kennedy, he occupies a place in a Valhalla where the normal rules don’t apply. Instead of waiting nervously for publishers to give thumbs up to a cherished manuscript, agents offer large advances, wid ... (read more)

Norman Etherington reviews 'An Eye for Eternity: The Life of Manning Clark' by Mark McKenna

December 2011–January 2012, no. 337 25 November 2011
Recognising biography as ‘one of the new terrors of death’, the eighteenth-century wit John Arbuthnot made sure his life would be sparsely documented. Manning Clark, preoccupied with his inevitable extinction, took the opposite tack. He massively archived all his thoughts and doings as a strategy for ensuring some spectral posthumous existence. A telling photograph in Mark McKenna’s stupendo ... (read more)

Norman Etherington reviews 'Captain Cook: Master of the Seas' by Frank McLynn

September 2011, no. 334 23 August 2011
Modern travellers can hardly conceive the perils of the sea in the age of sail. Merchant seamen excepted, today’s average seafarer rides a massive cruise ship warned by radar to skirt round storms and stabilised against the rolling of all but the most powerful swells. The terrors of the deep do not extend far beyond poor maintenance, food poisoning, bad company, and illicit drugs administered by ... (read more)

Norman Etherington reviews 'Botany Bay: The Real Story' by Alan Frost

April 2011, no. 330 24 March 2011
In 1970, at the age of twenty-seven, Alan Frost joined the English Department of La Trobe University. His first love had been the study of poetry, for which he earned an MA at the University of Queensland. That led to a PhD at the University of Rochester, where he wrote on ‘James Cook and the Early Romantic Imagination’. A controversy then raging in Australian history fired Frost’s own roman ... (read more)