Australian History

Bernard Whimpress reviews 'The Invincibles' by Bob Reece

Bernard Whimpress
02 March 2015

Emeritus Professor Bob Reece has published widely on Aboriginal history and on New Norcia history in particular. In a brief preface he notes that his paternal grandfather and father were fine cricketers and that he (a poor player) has followed the game from the time of Don Bradman’s Invincibles in the late 1940s. When he learned of the Benedictine Mission’s Abor ... More

Christopher Menz reviews 'Emporium' by Edwin Barnard

Christopher Menz
02 March 2015

Nowadays, with relentless advertising and a seemingly endless number of choices to confuse our every purchase, often only a click away from gratification, it might be tempting to imagine a time when things were simplerand retailing less pressured and more genteel. However, one would have to go a long way back in time to find an Australia wit ... More

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

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