Australian History

Thomas Keneally’s novel The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith (1972) is based in part on historical events, particularly the crimes committed by Jimmy Governor, an Aboriginal man from New South Wales. In 1900, Governor was a key figure involved in the killing of nine Europeans, including five women and children. The killings followed Governor’s marriage t ...

Deadline Gallipoli

Angus Tonkin
Tuesday, 14 April 2015

If ever there were to be an exception to Winston Churchill’s military aphorism, ‘History is written by the victors’, the Anzac story would make a promising candidate. One doubts that those on the ground at Gallipoli would consider themselves victors. Yet here we are, one hundred years on, celebrating the Anzac tradition with mo ...

Paul Giles reviews 'Incognita' by G.A. Mawer

Paul Giles
Friday, 27 March 2015

As the author explains in his preface, Incognita had its genesis in events to commemorate the four-hundredth anniversary of the voyages of Janszoon and Torres to the Cape York Peninsula in 1606, with the explorations of these Dutch mariners representing the first European sighting of Australia. This book has been several years in the making, and it offers an ...

Simon Caterson reviews 'Mannix' by Brenda Niall

Simon Caterson
Wednesday, 25 March 2015

With her long-awaited life of Archbishop Daniel Mannix, Brenda Niall, one of Australia’s leading biographers, has conquered a subject that for decades she regarded as compelling yet ‘intractable’. ‘As a presence (I wouldn’t claim such a remote and magisterial being as a neighbour) Daniel Mannix was part of my childhood,’ Niall recalls. She grew up in the ...

Two aggrieved Islamic men follow a foreign cause and wage jihad on their fellow Australians. Shouting Allahu akbar, they stage an ambush, raise a home-made flag and open fire on hundreds of men, women and children. They escape and die in a final shoot-out. They leave four dead and seven wounded.

It could be ripped from today’s headlines – except i ...

The Great War produced its own idiom and slang. Many of the new words and phrases created during the long conflict, such as ‘tank’ and ‘barrage’, became part of standard English, although often with a different nuance of meaning.

The recording of Australian soldier slang was seen as important at the end of the war. It was recognised as being integral ...

Bernard Whimpress reviews 'The Invincibles' by Bob Reece

Bernard Whimpress
Monday, 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 ...

Christopher Menz reviews 'Emporium' by Edwin Barnard

Christopher Menz
Monday, 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 ...

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

Peter Edwards
Thursday, 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 ...

James Walter reviews 'The Menzies Era' by John Howard

James Walter
Thursday, 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 ...