Australian History

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

Susan Lever reviews 'Warning: The Story of Cyclone Tracy'

Susan Lever
22 July 2014

Forty years ago next Christmas, a cyclone devastated Australia’s northernmost city, Darwin. It is a disaster still clear in the living memory of most Australians over fifty, but it also belongs to the past, the time before we had become aware of climate change. At the time, it was the kind of natural disaster to be expected in summer in the Top End, even if its fe ... More

Henry Reynolds reviews 'The Last Man: A British Genocide in Tasmania' by Tom Lawson

Henry Reynolds
28 April 2014

Tasmania is a small place with a rich historiography. Two themes in particular have intrigued historians and novelists since the nineteenth century and have appealed to film-makers and art More

Alex O'Brien reviews 'A Country Too Far: Writings on Asylum Seekers' edited by Rosie Scott and Tom Keneally

Alex O'Brien
28 February 2014

Australia is a country that will not be intimidated by its own decency. On 28 August 2001, as a detail of Special Air Services soldiers was dispatched to MV Tampa, Prime Minister Jo More

Akke +artlon reviews 'Perth'

Anne Partlon
19 January 2014

Once regarded as a provincial backwater, Perth has been transformed by the latest mineral resources boom into the nation’s fastest-growing city. The world’s most isolated capital, it is also one of the most outward-looking: a land of ‘porous boundaries’ and endless possibilities, where time and distance are illusory, and the collective gaz ... More

Anne Partlon reviews 'The Marriage Knot'

Anne Partlon
17 January 2014

Between European settlement in 1829 and the 1900 federal referendum, the legislation regulating matrimony in the infant Swan River colony changed eight times. Now, in this intelligent dissection of marriage and divorce laws in colonial Western Australia, historian Penelope Hetherington examines the political, religious, and social forces that effected change, ... More

Melissa Bellanta reviews 'The Forgotten Rebels of Eureka'

Melissa Bellanta
17 January 2014

As the smoke cleared over the ruins of the Eureka Stockade on 5 December 1854, a male diarist observed that a woman was among those ‘mercilessly butchered’ by troopers and police. According to her descendants, Catherine Smith was another casualty, shot by soldiers and dead three weeks later. In the 1880s a female correspondent to the Ballarat Star a ... More

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