The Lucky Country? Reinventing Australia
University of Queensland Press, $29.95 pb, 240 pp, 9780702253676
When The Lucky Country was published in 1964, its cover – Albert Tucker's painting of a hat-wearing, stony-faced, beer-swilling Aussie gambler – captured its essence. Donald Horne's interrogation of Australia was a powerful critique of a nation marked by cultural and political conservatism and economic insularity. His conclusion opened with the much-quoted sentence, 'Australia is a lucky country run mainly by second-rate people who share in its luck.' It balanced both the sense of Australia's material capacity and wealth of opportunities, and of its accidental good fortune at not having been brought low by its leaders' incompetence. The book aimed to catalyse a national debate to challenge these elements, and it largely succeeded.