Australian History

Colin Golvan reviews 'Australia's Boldest Experiment: War and Reconstruction in the 1940s' by Stuart Macintyre

Colin Golvan
30 March 2016

What is it about wars and the military that produce so much innovation and capacity? This a big and bold book which takes the contemporary collective awareness of Australia's wartime efforts on the battlefield and reflects on the building of the country on the back of the victory in 1945. It also invites the question of how best we can address the imperatives of bui ... More

Billy Griffiths reviews 'Private Lives, Public History' by Anna Clark

Billy Griffiths
30 March 2016

What do we talk about when we talk about history? This is a question that Anna Clark has devoted her career to answering. She has followed the conversations Australians have about history into museums and universities – The History Wars (2003) and Australian History Now! (2013) – and classrooms and staffrooms – Teaching the Nation (2 ... More

Susan Sheridan reviews 'Call of the Outback' by Marianne van Velzen

Susan Sheridan
24 March 2016

The long subtitle of this biography says it all. Hill was an immensely popular and influential travel writer in the 1930s and 1940s. Her books The Great Australian Loneliness (1937) and The Territory (1951) gathered together and built on the many stories she had written for city newspapers. She also published histories of the flying doctor medical ... More

Seumas Spark reviews 'A Little America in Western Australia' by Anthony J. Barker and Michael L. Ondaatje

Seumas Spark
25 February 2016

Visiting Australia in November 2011, President Obama announced plans for the deployment of United States marines to a Darwin base. The decision to establish a permanent American military presence in northern Australia, taken with the support of Prime Minister Julia Gillard and the Australian government, was part of the 'pivot' to Asia in US defence policy. The idea ... More

Paul Morgan reviews 'Before Rupert' by Tom D.C. Roberts

Paul Morgan
21 December 2015

Many public figures are fated to be remembered for a single incident rather than a lifetime's work (think of Gough Whitlam's ad-libbing outside Parliament house, or his nemesis's trousers, forever lost in Memphis). Often, almost perversely, it is one event that stays in the mind. For Keith Murdoch (1885–1952), that phenomenon was the so-called 'Gallipoli letter' o ... More

Susan Sheridan reviews 'Australian Women War Reporters' by Jeannine Baker

Susan Sheridan
21 December 2015

In this meticulously researched and eminently readable history, Jeannine Baker presents a gallery of impressive women who reported war news despite the obstacles put in their way by military authorities and press traditions alike. Along the way she deftly fills in key information about the conflicts involved, from the Boer War to Vietnam – a disturbing reminder of ... More

#1 Martin Thomas reads ‘“Because it’s your country”: Bringing Back the Bones to West Arnhem Land'

21 December 2015

In 2013 we published Martin Thomas's Calibre Prize-winning essay ‘“Because it’s your country”: Bringing Back the Bones to West Arnhem Land'. This powerful story of the repatri More

John Ramsland reviews 'Monash' by Grantlee Kieza and 'Maestro John Monash' by Tim Fischer

John Ramsland
21 December 2015

While A.J.P. Taylor's famous assessment of John Monash was that he was the sole general of creative originality in World War I, the word 'creative' here is misleading. The real measure of Monash's celebrated genius, as Grantlee Kieza frequently points out in this massive tome, was that he learnt, not without mistakes, how to maximise every tool he was given in an in ... More

Michael McGirr reviews 'Santamaria' by Gerard Henderson

Michael McGirr
18 December 2015

In 1980, when I first came to Melbourne from Sydney, I found myself working among homeless people in the inner city. I was guided by a fantastic nun, one of those forthright people with a fearless sense of justice. She stood up to police and clergy alike. One day we had a long wait in the casualty department of St Vincent's Hospital with a gentleman from the streets ... More

Ben Huf reviews 'Republicanism and Responsible Government' by Benjamin T. Jones

Ben Huf
28 October 2015

Studies in the early history of Australian democracy have undergone a remarkable regeneration over the past decade. Since New South Wales's sesquicentenary of responsible government in 2006, books by Peter Cochrane and Terry Irving, and essays by Paul Pickering, Andrew Messner, and Sean Scalmer, have overhauled prevailing interpretations of the 1840s and 1850s, whic ... More

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