Australian History

Michael McGirr reviews 'Santamaria' by Gerard Henderson

Michael McGirr
Friday, 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 ...

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 ...

The Australian Archaeologist’s Book of Quotations is a veritable time-traveller’s guide for making sense of a continent, a nation, and its people. The editors, archaeologist Mike Smith and historian Billy Griffiths, have served up a smorgasbord of archaeological appetisers, with a feast of pithy insights into how Australians are coming to terms with ancie ...

I vaguely knew about Fred Rose as somebody ASIO was after in the 1950s, a communist blackened in the Petrov case who went off to live in the German Democratic Republic. During the Cold War, that kind of boundary crossing was usually definitive. If you went over the wall, you stayed over.

Not Fred Rose. He went over the wall to the GDR, but after that he kept ...

Peter Heerey reviews 'Old Law, New Law' by Keith Mason

Peter Heerey
Friday, 31 July 2015

The practice of the law is about stories. The stories the parties tell to the judge, the story the judge tells back or, if you like, the judge’s review of the parties’ stories. Along the way there can be much that is frankly boring to onlookers, or indeed the parties themselves, but also drama, pathos, and humour, both intentional and the opposite. And past case ...

One of the few Australian-born female sculptors of the early twentieth century was a Ballarat girl, Dora Ohlfsen, who went to Berlin in 1892, at the age of twenty-three, to study music and found herself three years later in St Petersburg studying the art of the medallion. She was in Russia because she had fallen in love with the Russian-born, German-speaking Elena v ...

Rachel Buchanan reviews 'Silent Shock' by Michael Magazanik

Rachel Buchanan
Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Silent Shock is an ambitious, important book. It is a work of history, a work of journalism, and a forensic exposé of hideous corporate negligence, all woven around the lives of one modest Melbourne family.

Former journalist turned lawyer Michael Magazanik was one of the dozens of lawyers, barristers, and researchers who worked on a recent class acti ...

Billy Griffiths reviews 'Unholy Fury' by James Curran

Billy Griffiths
Wednesday, 29 July 2015

I have never met an Aussie I didn’t like.’ The half-compliment was the best President Richard Nixon could muster during a restrained exchange with Prime Minister Gough Whitlam in the Oval Office in July 1973. After the turbulent build-up to this meeting, rivetingly conveyed in James Curran’s history Unholy Fury: Whitlam and Nixon at War, one almost expe ...

Free settlement in Australia from 1788 to the 1850s is an old and favourite topic for historians in this country. It has engaged historical imagination for nearly two centuries, starting with William Charles Wentworth’s A Statistical, Historical, and Political Description of the Colony ...

‘Most history is simply lost.’ By means of a regular biographical column in the Jesuit magazine Madonna published over the past twenty-five years, Father Edmund Campion has preserved pieces of Australian personal history that might otherwise have been neglected, if not forgotten altogether. In this, the author’s second collection of biographical sketche ...