Australia: A New History of the Great Southern Land

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Australia: A New History of the Great Southern Land is a major new account that places Australia's history fully within a global context, drawing on sources from the United States, Britain, South Africa, and Canada, as well as within Australia itself.

In a compelling narrative, acclaimed historian Frank Welsh traces the history of the land from scattered convict settlements to the formation of the Commonwealth of Australia in 1901 and on to today's thriving independent nation, exposing many national myths in the process. This book also explores the dark side of Australia's history: the long-continued "White Australia" policy, which bedeviled foreign policy for more than a century; the still-tortured official relationship with the Aboriginal peoples; the subordination of women; and the flaws in the constitution. Also examined is Australia's uneasy relationship with its Asian neighbors, and its isolation from Britain and the United States, its traditional allies.

Original, provocative, and witty, Australia is the most comprehensive single-volume history of Australia yet published. It makes a strong claim to becoming the standard work on this fascinating and often misunderstood country.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Welsh (The Four Nations: A History of the United Kingdom) likes to tackle big projects. Noting at the outset that he is in fact English, he writes effusively about Australia, citing UN indexes on health, education, and other quality-of-life measures on which the country gets top marks, placing it among the finalists as "the most successful society in the world." He then details its unpromising start, showing that it was repeatedly passed over by explorers, who thought its promise as a colony was poor. Australia's great distance from the mother country contributed to its distinct development as arguably the most independent of the former British colonies, though it remains a part of the Commonwealth. Comparing Australia to other Crown colonies, particularly South Africa, Welsh underscores the backward thinking that fueled white Australia's anti-aboriginal policy, which lasted from the 19th century through the 1960s and was harsher even than Jim Crow. Where Robert Hughes's The Fatal Shore fixed on Australia's origins as a penal colony, Welsh's narrative finishes with current events. Bogging down a little in the inevitable political hopscotch of Whigs and Tories, he tries to keep the tone light, helped by some of the personalities he sketches. As Welsh notes, the U.S. media offer relatively little coverage of Australia, and he hopes to correct that imbalance. In that spirit, his book is recommended for public and academic libraries.-Robert Moore, Bristol Myers Squibb Co., North Billerica, MA Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781585676927
  • Publisher: Overlook
  • Publication date: 5/4/2006
  • Pages: 768
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.18 (h) x 1.96 (d)

Table of Contents

Australia List of Illustrations and Maps
1. Terra Australis Nondum Cognita
Terra Nullius?
The Land and the People
'Matter of advantageous Return'
2. The New Australians
'The Finest Harbour in the Universe'
'The Dread of Perishing by Famine'
'The Disordered and Helpless' An Irish Parenthesis
Mr. Boston's Sow
Pure Bred Merinos
'A long era of opulence and peace'
'Kind ruler, husband, father, friend—What more can human nature blend?'
3. Whigs and Tories
'A body of really respectable Settlers'
'A perfect martinet'
A Letter from Sydney
'People whose proprietary title to the soil we have not the slightest grounds for disputing'
4. Occupied Notices
'The moral Governor of the world will hold us accountable'
The Black War
'Persons of violent uncontrollable passions'
Batman's Colony
Real Black Gentlemen
'The whole of New Holland'
A Nonconformist Eden
Moreton Bay and Places North
5. Representative Government
'Extravagant and absurd pretensions'
'If you wouldn't become a kangaroo'
A Convenient Change of Nomenclature
'Extreme inconvenience and loss'
The Systematic Violation of the Law
6. The Capacity to Govern Themselves
'The freedom and the institutions of the mother country'
Victoria Victorious
| 7. The Transition to Responsible Government
New South Wales
Cocky Farmers
'Constitution-tinkering is here continual'
South Australia
8. Exploration and Expansion
Waiting 'for something to turn up'
South Australia's Delusions of Grandeur
'They must act in the matter as they please'
'A happy application of good sense'
9. Federation
Colonial Quarrels
'The magnitude of their ideas is appalling'
The Federal Council
The Great Depression
A Second Commonwealth
Republicans and Nationalists
The True History of the Kelly Gang
'What will it cost us to join?'
'To assist and explain'
10. The Commonwealth Feels its Way
'That's the Empire . . . And that's what I'm painting'
'A working man's paradise'
Votes for Women
A Two-Party System
11. War and Peace
'The liberties of the smaller nations'
What, it might be asked, was it all for?
'That's about the size of it, Mr. President'
Setting the Mould
Labor's Death Wish
Bridges and Bowlers
The Far East is our Near North
Ambling Along
12. The Second World War and its Aftermath
A Public Lynching
The Home Front
Foreign Affairs
Menzies is Back
Australia in Asia
13. The Shadows of Vietnam
A Third Force
New Alliances
Menzies' Big Mistake
The Second Eleven
'Smoothing the pillow of a dying race'
14. It's Time
Crashing Through and Out
Was the Ref. Fixed?
Britain Declares Independence
The Liberals Return
New Labor
At Last
15. The Coalition Strikes Back
Appendix: Australian and British rulers
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