Australian History

Dreaming Too Loud

Frank Bongiorno
16 January 2014

London-based silk Geoffrey Robertson QC is one of Australia’s most celebrated and eloquent commentators. In his new book, he addresses subjects such as injustice to Aborigines, Ned Kelly, and his Australian heroes.< More

Wilfred Prest on 'Queen's College the University of Melbourne'

Wilfrid Prest
28 November 2013

Notwithstanding occasional media focus on misbehaving students or senior members, the residential colleges and halls dotted around or about most Australian university campuses keep a low profile. Their influence has undoubtedly declined since the early twentieth century, when as many as one quarter of Melbourne’s enrolled undergraduate population, and a much ... More

Susan Lever reviews 'Telling Stories'

Susan Lever
31 October 2013

Telling Stories is a great brick of a book full of diverting bits and pieces about Australian culture over the past seventy-seven years. It is hugely entertaining – a sort of QIin book form, with seventy-nine authors offering their brief observations on aspects of Australian cultural life. No one will read it cover to ... More

Frank Bongiorno reviews 'Dancing with Empty Pockets'

Frank Bongiorno
31 October 2013

Tony Moore’s engaging account of Australian bohemians begins with Marcus Clarke and takes us through to Julian Assange. Along the way we encounter Australian bohemia in its diverse expressions, from the art of the Heidelberg School, writing of the Bulletin, high jinks of 1920s Sydney bohemia to the Sydney Push, Melbourne Drift, 1960s counterculture (i ... More

Richard Broinowski reviews 'Charles Robert Scrivener'

Richard Broinowski
31 October 2013

In the 1890s the six Australian colonies were preoccupied not only with getting a fair deal over tariffs and customs – and maintaining the purity of the Anglo-Saxon race – but also with the location of the national capital. Denizens of Melbourne and Sydney felt that it should be one of them. The compromise was a capital in New South Wales, closer to Sydney ... More

Robert Kenny reviews 'Living with Fire''

Robert Kenny
31 October 2013

Fire, more than any other thing, challenges the divide between the cultural and the natural, between being human and the non-human world. We make a pact, if not with a devil, at least with terrible danger when we use fire; and it is a pact, despite how it might seem in our urban modernity, over which we have no choice. We need fire. It doesn’t need us. If it ... More

Gillian Terzis on 'Clive: The story of Clive Palmer' by Sean Parnell

Gillian Terzis
30 October 2013

Even the most seasoned political observers would have been surprised at the Palmer United Party’s triumph at the federal election, which saw it claim three seats in the Senate. Was More

Simon Caterson on 'Melbourne: City of Words'

Simon Caterson
30 September 2013

To judge by John McLaren’s thought-provoking survey of 200 years of writing about Melbourne, the city’s most insidious negative feature for many observers – wrong-headed though they may be – is dullness. In George Johnston’s My Brother Jack (1964), the narrator David Meredith rails against the suburbs as ‘worse than slums. They betrayed noth ... More

Lyndon Megarrity reviews 'W. Macmahon Ball'

Lyndon Megarrity
27 August 2013

William Macmahon Ball (1901–86) was many things: an academic, a diplomat, a writer, and what we would now refer to as a ‘public intellectual’. As Ai Kobayashi’s new study of this fascinating man ably demonstrates, Ball was predominantly an educator. In the classroom, through books, and in the media, Ball encouraged his audience to reflect more deeply a ... More

Colin Nettelbeck on 'Silences and Secrets'

Colin Nettelbeck
27 August 2013

Kay Dreyfus was inspired to write about the Weintraubs Syncopators after seeing a German documentary at the Melbourne Jewish Film Festival in 2000. The film recounted the story of this interwar dance and variety band, which had earned fame in Josef von Sternberg’s The Blue Angel (1930), and later used a European tour to escape from Hitler’s jazz- an ... More

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