John Hirst reviews 'A History of Tasmania' by Henry Reynolds

A History of Tasmania

by Henry Reynolds

Cambridge University Press, $39.95 pb, 336 pp, 9780521548373

Henry Reynolds is the pre-eminent historian of Aboriginal–settler relations in Australia, and with this theme he begins his history of Tasmania. He eschews the obligatory set piece description of Aboriginal society before the Europeans arrived, with which so many books now awkwardly commence. His opening chapter is ‘First Meetings: Extraordinary Encounters’, where the explorers and founders of settlements are not much more than names and the interest is in how the Aborigines responded to them. I thought it was by design to leave the reader knowing little more about these Europeans than the Aborigines did, but it is not altogether so, for in the next chapter Reynolds operates as if he has told us much more about the identity and motivation of the Europeans than he actually has.

Read the rest of this article by subscribing to ABR Online for as little as $10 a month.

We offer a range of subscription options, including print, which can be found by clicking here. If you are already a subscriber, enter your username and password in the ‘Log In’ section in the top right-hand corner of the screen.

If you require assistance, contact us or consult the Frequently Asked Questions page.

Published in February 2012, no. 338
John Hirst

John Hirst

John Hirst was a historian. His most recent book was Looking for Australia: Historical Essays (2010).

Leave a comment

Please note that all comments must be approved by ABR and comply with our Terms & Conditions.

NB: If you are an ABR Online subscriber or contributor, you will need to login to ABR Online in order to post a comment. If you have forgotten your login details, or if you receive an error message when trying to submit your comment, please email your comment (and the name of the article to which it relates) to We will review your comment and, subject to approval, we will post it under your name.