‘The product under consideration is Shist.’ So began New Zealand historian Keith Sinclair’s discussion of short histories in 1968. His irreverent diminutive is still occasionally heard among professional historians of a certain age. It is less often recalled that Sinclair was defending the worth of the short history against those who might think ‘Shist beneath their dignity’. After all, Sinclair was himself the author of a fine short history of New Zealand, and he was contributing to a collection of essays in honour of W.K. Hancock, who had arguably produced the most distinguished – and certainly the most influential – short history of Australia up to that time.
Frank Bongiorno reviews 'A History of Australia' by Mark Peel and Christina Twomey
A History of Australia
by Mark Peel and Christina Twomey
Palgrave Macmillan, $49.95 pb, 320 pp, 9780230001640
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Frank Bongiorno teaches at the Australian National University, where he is Head of the School of History. His most recent book is The Eighties: The decade that transformed Australia (Black Inc., 2015) and he is co-editor, with Benjamin T. Jones and John Uhr, of Elections Matter: Ten federal elections that shaped Australia (Monash University Publishing, 2018).
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