Australian History

Peter Edwards reviews 'The Nashos' War' by Mark Dapin

Peter Edwards
26 February 2015

In late April, the commemorations of the centenary of the Gallipoli landing will inevitably overshadow another significant anniversary in Australia’s military, political, and social history. On 29 April 1965, fifty years to the week after the landing at Anzac Cove, the Menzies government announced the commitment of an Australian infantry battalion to the growing c ... More

James Walter reviews 'The Menzies Era' by John Howard

James Walter
26 February 2015

John Howard has long been concerned with countering what he regards as the domination of Australian historical writing by the left. His project was initiated before he gained the prime ministership, most notably in his Menzies Lecture of 1996, in which he claimed that most of the distinctiveness and achievements of Australian politics were grounded in the liberal tr ... More

Paul Brunton reviews 'A Forger's Progress' by Alasdair McGregor

Paul Brunton
26 February 2015

The twenty or so elegant Georgian buildings designed by Francis Greenway that stand in Sydney today are a civilising presence. Yet these represent less than a quarter of his output. The destruction has been wanton and impoverishing.

Greenway was born in November 1777, near Bristol. His ... More

Luke Slattery reviews 'Australians, Volume 3' by Thomas Keneally

Luke Slattery
25 February 2015

The European settlement of Australia, the colony’s earliest years, its expansion into, and alienation of, lands inhabited for millennia by the first Australians: these are the great and abiding themes of the Australian story. Together with the rather overdone nationalist narratives of war rekindled each and every Anzac Day, they are the focal points of popular his ... More

2007 Calibre Prize (commended): 'Death Dance' by David Hansen

David Hansen
08 January 2015

I am at the exhibition ‘National Treasures from Australia’s Great Libraries’. I have come to see a picture of a man named Bungaree. I am standing in front of him, but I am distanced. The painting is glazed, low-lit, hung on a wall on the far side of quite a deep display case. If I stand up straight he is in focus, but too far away for me to see the details. As ... More

Peter Menkhorst reviews 'Starvation in a Land of Plenty' by Michael Cathcart

Peter Menkhorst
17 December 2014

The white explorers who first penetrated the interior of this continent were exceptional men. White Australians of the time considered them heroes, performing an essential role in identifying opportunities for exploitation, settlement, and commerce. Mostly, the explorers were heroic – determined, tough, single-minded, and stoic in the face of enormous hardship. Th ... More

Nigel Pearn reviews the 'A-Z of Convicts in Van Diemen's Land' by Simon Barnard

Nigel Pearn
31 October 2014

In times of high moral outrage at the barbarism of others, it is salutary to be reminded of the state-sanctioned viciousness of Australia’s past. Simon Barnard’s AZ of Convicts in Van Diemen’s Land does this brilliantly. Australian convict history is a crowded field, but Barnar ... More

Billy Griffiths reviews 'A History of Canberra' by Nicholas Brown

Billy Griffiths
30 October 2014

‘Canberra’ is a loaded term among Australians. The capital embodies the aspirations, expectations, and disappointments of a nation. It is at once a bold experiment in Australian democracy and a national source of ambivalence and derision, the unfortunate shorthand for the federal government, and a symbol of Australia’s collective disenchantment with politics. ... More

Mark McKenna reviews Alan Atkinson's The Europeans in Australia, vol. 3

Mark McKenna
28 October 2014

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 ... More

David Day on 'Menzies at War'

David Day
22 July 2014

Prime ministers seem to value longevity, whether it is Bob Hawke relishing the fact that he served longer than John Curtin and Ben Chifley combined, or John Howard relishing that he served longer than Hawke. But no prime minister is likely to serve as long as Robert Menzies’ sixteen years as prime minister from 1949 to 1966. His record is even more impressive when ... More

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