Francesca Sasnaitis reviews 'Beautiful Balts: From displaced persons to new Australians' by Jayne Persian
I grew up in a New Australian household, and admit at the outset to a biased view. My Lithuanian-born parents were actual Baltic immigrants among the other nationalities referred to by the blanket designation ‘Balt’. Much of the anecdotal material of Jayne Persian’s Beautiful Balts was deeply familiar to me from childhood ...... (read more)
In 1976, when Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser and his wife, Tamie, were on an official visit to the White House in Washington, she was shown the collection of Americana acquired through the White House Historical Association, an idea of Jacqueline Kennedy’s as First Lady. Her enthusiasm for a similar Australian fund ...... (read more)
In the Australia of my childhood, the Gypsy skirt was fashionable, ABC Radio played Django Reinhardt, ‘The Gypsy Rover’ was in school songbooks, peripatetic players were called ‘Gypsy footballers’, the Gypsy Jokers were a feared bikie gang, and nefarious Gypsies were stock villains in children’s books. Gypsies – or Roma – occupied cultural terrain, but ...... (read more)
Billy Griffiths reviews 'The Vandemonian War: The secret history of Britain’s Tasmanian invasion' by Nick Brodie
Nick Brodie, a medievalist and ‘professional history nerd’, enjoys writing in a revelatory tone. His latest book ...... (read more)
Agnes Nieuwenhuizen reviews 'Australian Lives: An intimate history' by Anisa Puri and Alistair Thomson
Meet Ruth Apps, born 1926 and gleefully proud of her Irish convict ancestry. Her father lost the use of an arm in Gallipoli and was also mentally affected. During World War II he slept in the yard to avoid bombs. Ruth won a scholarship to a selective girls’ high school in Sydney when few girls were educated beyond primary school ...... (read more)
Nothing has done more to add to the ingenuity of Australian history writing than the study of Indigenous experience. This book, which concentrates on people living in Sydney and its immediate hinterlands from 1788 to the 1930s, is a case in point ...... (read more)
Simon Caterson reviews 'Code Breakers: Inside the shadow world of signals intelligence in Australia’s two Bletchley Parks' by Craig Collie
In architectural terms, if no other, the Australian counterpart to the famous World War II code breaking centre at Bletchley Park initially could not have been more different. While Alan Turing and his celebrated colleagues cracked the German Enigma code at a secluded mansion in the English countryside, Australia’s code breakers began working out of a nondescript ...
The historian Rebe Taylor has a fascination with Australia’s southern islands and their capacity to contain or magnify issues of identity for their indigenous inhabitants, if not for their broader populations ...... (read more)
n 2004 the Indonesian foreign minister, Nur Hassan Wirajuda, learned that Australia had established a 1000-mile maritime exclusion zone as part of its asylum-seeker policy ...... (read more)
Maralinga is a name familiar to most Australians as the site of British nuclear testing in the 1950s. Less familiar are the earlier tests at the Monte Bello Islands off Western Australia and Emu Field in South Australia. All have left a toxic legacy in our history.
Elizabeth Tynan’s finely researched book on the history of Maralinga and its precursors brin ...