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Marilyn Lake reviews 'My Grandfather’s Clock: Four centuries of a British-Australian family' by Graeme Davison

November 2023, no. 459 26 October 2023
With My Grandfather’s Clock: Four centuries of a British-Australian family, historian Graeme Davison has offered his readers and bequeathed to his grandchildren a very special book, at once genealogy, travelogue, memoir, broad social history, and a meditation on the sources of personal identity. It is a book to be treasured. The pursuit of ancestry is a narrative quest, aided by family memory ... (read more)

Marilyn Lake reviews 'Myth America: Historians take on the biggest legends and lies about our past', edited by Kevin M. Kruse and Julian E. Zelizer

April 2023, no. 452 27 March 2023
All nations are sustained by myth-making, but some myths are more problematic than others. Australia has long taken heart from the myth of Anzac, the story that in their ‘baptism of fire’ at Gallipoli, in 1915, Australian men gave birth to the nation. Notably militarist in orientation, extolling the feats of men at war, extensive government investment has helped render our national creation my ... (read more)

Marilyn Lake reviews 'Black, White and Exempt: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander lives under exemption' edited by Lucinda Aberdeen and Jennifer Jones

June 2021, no. 432 26 May 2021
In the process of British colonisation, Aboriginal people lost their country, kin, culture, and languages. They also lost their freedom. Governed after 1901 by different state and territory laws, Aboriginal peoples were subject to the direction of Chief Protectors and Protection Boards, and were told where they could live, travel, and seek employment, and whom they might marry. They were also subj ... (read more)

Marilyn Lake reviews 'Distant Sisters: Australasian women and the international struggle for the vote, 1880–1914' by James Keating

March 2021, no. 429 22 February 2021
In July 1894, a year after New Zealand women had gained the national right to vote (the first in the world to do so), their spokesperson Kate Sheppard prepared to address a suffrage rally in London, alongside Sir John Hall, the parliamentary sponsor of the New Zealand suffrage campaign. They took the stage in the vast Queen’s Hall at Westminster to report on their historic fourteen-year struggle ... (read more)

Marilyn Lake reviews 'Best We Forget: The war for white Australia, 1914–18' by Peter Cochrane

August 2018, no. 403 25 July 2018
In pondering the construction of public memory in Ireland, the eminent American historian Richard White insisted on the demythologising work of history as a discipline: ‘History is the enemy of memory. The two stalk each other across the fields of the past, claiming the same terrain. History forges weapons from what memory has forgotten or suppressed.’ In Best We Forget: The war for white Aust ... (read more)

Marilyn Lake reviews 'Broken Nation: Australians in the Great War' by Joan Beaumont

February 2014, no. 358 16 January 2014
If you read only one book about Australia’s experience of World War I, as the deluge of commemorative publications marking the outbreak of the war becomes a veritable tsunami, make it Broken Nation, an account that joins the history of the war to the home front, and that details the barbarism of the battlefields as well as the desolation, despair, and bitter divisions that devastated the communi ... (read more)