Mark McKenna

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by Australian Book Review
April 2021, no. 430

I’ve been fortunate to work with talented editors like Sally Heath (formerly with MUP and now with Thames & Hudson) and more recently with Chris Feik and Kirstie Innes-Will at Black Inc. I’d be lost without their close reading of my work and their suggestions for improvement. As Chris says, skilful editing helps to make any book the best version of itself.

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The distinguished historian Mark McKenna has written an elegant and hungry book about the pull of Uluru, that place of mysterious significance to Australians, black and white. Of course, in recent times, the Uluru Statement from the Heart – the heart that had a stake driven through it the moment it was entrusted to the most powerful whites in Canberra – is a complicated domain of passion and polemic. McKenna’s work, pro-Aboriginal and postcolonial in spirit, is itself an addition to the long history of romancing Uluru, albeit with a focus on a hero who seems like an anti-hero by the time this book is done.

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In the New England summer of 1825, the residents of Cornwall, Connecticut, built a funeral pyre in the middle of their village green. From a nearby window, nineteen-year-old Harriett Gold watched as the flames leapt into the sky, her heart consumed with ‘anguish’. Among those burning Harriett’s effigy was her brother, Stephen, who, like nearly all of the town ...

There is a well-meaning musician who performs intermittently in Central Australia. When he plays his hit song, he tries to augment the lyrics by chanting the ...

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Originally published in German, Albrecht Dümling’s The Vanished Musicians: Jewish refugees in Australia (Peter Lang), a fascinating compendium of Jewish musicians who found refuge in Australia in the 1930s and 1940s, is now available in Australian Diana K. Weekes’s excellent translation ...

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Jennifer Maiden's The Fox Petition: New Poems (Giramondo) conjures foxes 'whose eyes were ghosts with pity' and foxes of language that transform the world's headlines

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On 17 January 1991, Alan Atkinson wrote to fellow historian Manning Clark to express his appreciation after reading The Puzzles of Childhood (1989) and The Quest for Grace (1990), Clark’s two volumes of autobiography. While Clark had only four months to live, Atkinson would soon begin work on The Europeans in Australia, a three-v ...

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 ...

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