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Reviews »

[19 Feb 2011 | No Comment | 3,219 views ]

ALONG with Geoffrey Blainey and Geoffrey Bolton, Alan Frost is the leading historian of the foundation and development of Botany Bay.
Indeed some of the work in Botany Bay: The Real Story was published in Frost’s seminal 1980 book Convicts and Empire: A Naval Question and in his 1994 book Botany Bay Mirages: Illusions of Australia’s Convict Beginnings .
For the past 35 years, Frost, emeritus professor of history at La Trobe University, has toiled in archives here and overseas (especially the Public Record Office, now the National Archives, in London) to …

Books »

[9 Oct 2010 | No Comment | 2,023 views ]

THIS is an utterly fascinating book. At one level, the story of the murder of 21 Australian nurses on Radji Beach, Banka Island, on the morning of February 16, 1942, is a minor part of the much wider story of Australians in the Pacific war.
But at another, deeper, level it is a compelling tale of what happened to scores of young women after the dramatically unexpected fall of Singapore to the Japanese. It is also a powerful counter-factual history of what might have been had things been different.
Among hundreds of …

Reviews »

[11 Jul 2010 | No Comment | 1,423 views ]

Colonial Australia was a dumping ground for activists who fought for the freedoms that we take for granted today.
This concisely written, effectively illustrated “history from below” focuses on all those rebels and political malcontents banished by British authorities to the ends of the earth in the Antipodes.
Death or Liberty: Rebel Exiles Transported to Australia 1788-1868 usefully adopts the historiographical approach of the leading 20th-century scholars E.P. Thompson, Eric Hobsbawm and George Rude to understand and elucidate the forces producing rebellion in the mother country. As Moore explains, studies by these …

Columns »

[15 Apr 2010 | No Comment | 1,462 views ]

Dr H. V. Evatt, who led the federal Australian Labor Party from 1951 to 1960, had  been a high-profile world figure during World War II and had served a term as an early president of the United Nations General Assembly.
Doc Evatt, notoriously, was a disastrous leader – the great Labor split of the 1950s occurred on his watch – but what is less known is that his political career was in difficulties even before he became leader. These difficulties arose from his failure to reconcile the competing demands of global diplomacy …

Reviews »

[1 Aug 2009 | No Comment | 2,952 views ]

THE designation of William Charles Wentworth as “Australia’s greatest native son” is that of Manning Clark. Nevertheless, Andrew Tink’s use of the phrase as the subtitle for his book suggests this biography is somewhat breathless.
Certainly it is nothing like John Ritchie’s measured The Wentworths: Father and Son, published 10 years ago by Melbourne University Press.
Moreover Tink, who until 2006 was shadow attorney-general and shadow leader of the house in the NSW parliament, is given to overstatement. Thus in chapter 26, Wentworth Demands Self-government, he maintains that his subject “resembled the …

Columns »

[17 Sep 2008 | No Comment | 1,620 views ]

LUKE Slattery’s piece, “Blainey affair role hounds professor”, warrants serious attention.
The attack on Macintyre’s work as a historian for having being an “ex-communist” is gratuitous and foolish. What about all those ex-comms who turned to the Right?
The current denigration of Macintyre is redolent of the unprincipled attacks on Geoffrey Blainey after his Warrnambool speech in 1984.
Although Blainey and I differ markedly about politics, I was distressed by the attack on his work by a posse of Australian academics, as a direct result of his views about Asian immigration.
Macintyre has always …

Columns »

[20 Jul 2008 | No Comment | 1,092 views ]

IN 1957 the Queensland Labor premier Vince Gair, who had comfortably won two state elections, found himself at war with his own party over the issue of union influence. So they sold him out.
As a direct consequence of the rift – and despite Labor’s previous strong performances – the conservatives soon took power and there they remained for 32 years.
The stoush also precipitated the rise and rise of Joh Bjelke-Petersen and all it meant for the Sunshine State and Labor’s electoral future.
It’s with a chilling sense of deja vu that …