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Cambridge History of Australia
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Cambridge History of Australia
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"Cambridge History of Australia"
Alison Bashford, Stuart McIntyre (editors), Cambridge University Press, 2013
2 Volume Set - Hardback.


A comprehensive and up-to-date survey of events and key themes in Australian history that brings together the scholarship of our leading historians.
- A resource for History Extension
- An essential addition to any history library
- A background for the Australian Curriulum


VOLUME 1 - Indigenous and Colonial Australia
Part I
1. The Last 50,000 years: an archaeological view - Peter Veth & Susan O'Connor
2. Newcomers, c. 1600-1800 - Shino Konishi & Maria Nugent
3. Convict Transportation in global context, c. 1700-88 - Emma Christopher & Hamish Maxwell-Stewart
4. The early colonial presence, 1788-1822 - Grace Karskens
5. Expansion, 1820-50 - Lisa Ford & David Andrew Roberts
6. The advent of self-government,1840s-1890 - Anne Curthoys & Jessie Mitchell
7. The gold rushes of the 1850s - David Goodman
8. Colonial states and civil society, 1860-90 - Stuart McIntyre & Sean Scalmer

9. Rethinking the 1890s - Melissa Bellanta
10. Making the Federal Commonwealth, 1890-1902 - Helen Irving

Part II
11. Population and health - Janet McCalman & Rebecca Kippen
12. Environmental transformations - Andrea Gaynor
13. The economy - Lionel Frost
14. Indigenous and settler relations - Tracey Banivanua Mar & Penelope Edmonds
15. Education - Julia Horne & Geoffrey Sherington
16. Law and regulation - Mark Finnane
17. Religion - Anne O'Brien
18. Science and technology - John Gascoigne & Sara Maroske
19. Gender and colonial society - Penny Russell
20. Art and literature: a cosmopolitan culture - Robert Dixon & Deryck Schreuder
21. Empire: Australia and 'Greater Britain', 1788-1901 - Deryck Schreuder
22. Colonial Australia and the Asia-Pacific region - Marilyn Lake
23. Australian colonies in a maritime world - Cindy McCreery & Kirsten McKenzie


Part I
1. Nation building, 1901-14 - John Hirst
2. The Great War and its aftermath, 1914-22 - Stephen Garton & Peter Stanley
3. Search for a solution, 1923-39 - Frank Bongiorno
4. World War 2 and post-war reconstruction, 1939-49 - Kate Darian-Smith
5. The Menzies era, 1950-66 - Judith Brett
6. Instability, 1966-82 - Paul Strangio
7. Growth resumed, 1983-2000 - James Walter
8. The new millenium - Murray Goot

Part II
9. Religion - Graeme Davison
10. Culture and media - David Carter & Bridget Griffen-Foley
11. Science and medicine - Alison Bashford & Peter Hobbins
12. Society and welfare - Shurlee Swain
13. Gender and sexuality - Katie Holmes & Sarah Pinto
14. Indigenous Australia - Anna Haebich & Steve Kinnane
15. Class - Stuart McIntyre & Sean Scalmer
16. The economy - Simon Ville
17. Government, law and citizenship - Nicholas Brown
18. Education - Alison Mackinnon & Helen Proctor
19. The enviroment - Gregory Barton & Brett Bennett
20. Travel and connections - Agniezka Sobocinska & Richard White
21. Security - David Lowe
22. Australia, Britain and the British Commonwealth - Carl Bridge
23. Australia in the Asia-Pacific region - Tomoko Akami & Tony Milner
24. The history anxiety - Mark McKenna

Title Reviews

Cambridge University Press (CUP) has a long established tradition of publising the writings of the best historians across a particular area of knowledge. Teachers are no doubt familiar with 'The Cambridge Ancient History', edited by J. B. Bury and 'The Cambridge Modern History', edited by G. R. Elton. In 2013, CUP marked the coming of age of Australian history by adding 'The Cambridge History of Australia', edited by Alison Bashford and Stuart Macintyre. Its tow volumes present articles by 67 historians covering the history of Australia's Indigenous people and settlers, from 50,000 years ago to 2011. 'Notes on Contributors' at the beginning of each volume reads like a Who's Who of the established experts in Australian history and its heartening to see the inclusion of many innovative, early career researchers.

The publication is a distinctive history for a distinctive nation and a clear statement that its editors designed it to be ‘a national history written for global times’. It incorporates postcolonial, cultural and feminist scholarship and examines Australia’s relations at the global and local levels. The publication’s release in 2013 was well-timed to coincide with the implementation of the new Australian Curriculum: History which also repositions Australia in the context of ‘world’ or global history, perhaps the influence of Stuart Macintyre on both projects. Authors were asked to ‘write beyond their own interpretative position, to present and explain key trends and events, and where debate has been significant, to explain to the reader the contours and implications of the changing historiography’. This means that teachers can now have easy access to up-to-date and reliable information, as well as multiple interpretations of Australian history.

Thankfully CUP has adopted a user-friendly format that will assist time-strapped history teachers. Its 1,536 pages are carefully indexed so you can browse and dip into topics of interest. Footnotes contain complete citations for further research and are conveniently positioned at the bottom of each page to facilitate easier reading. ‘Further Reading’ for each chapter is located at the end of each volume to guide additional inquiry, and would be of benefit to History Extension students seeking a reliable starting point for research on an Australian topic for their History Project.

Volume I: Indigenous and Colonial Australia covers Australia’s history from c. 50,000 BP to 1901, and Volume II: The Commonwealth of Australia, starts at 1901 and continues to the present (2011). Each volume is divided into two parts: Part I follows a chronological narrative and Part II slices across time by exploring historical themes, such as gender and religion. These two approaches are familiar to teachers and especially relevant to those who teach the Elective History and History Extension courses.

Due to the expansive coverage of the publication I will focus on three chapters which I consider to be the most useful and relevant to the new curriculum. A comprehensive table that correlates Stages 4 and 5 Australian Curriculum History topics with relevant chapters in The Cambridge History of Australia can be found on HTANSW’s website: www.htansw.asn.au

Volume 1, Chapter 1, ‘The past 50,000 years: an archaeological view’ is probably one of the most useful chapters for teachers seeking accurate and succinct information on the new Year 7 topic ‘Ancient Australia’. Written by archaeologists Peter Veth and Sue O’Connor, the chapter begins by explaining why a precise date for the human occupation of Australia will never be known and why the consensus is ‘somewhere between 60,000 and 50,000 years ago’. The two most common arguments for the extinction of megafauna (environmental versus human) are explained, and the most important archaeological sites in Australia for evidence of Aboriginal presence and cultural activity are described. Two maps (Pleistocene sites before 10,000 years ago and Holocene sites after 10,000 years ago) can be used to demonstrate to Year 7s how the continent of Australia and its occupation by humans changed over these long periods of time.

Another chapter I think teachers will find thought-provoking is Helen Irving’s ‘Making the federal Commonwealth, 1890-1901’ because it puts Australia’s Federation (a topic that usually elicits responses of dread and loathing from students and teachers alike) into the wider context of fin de siècle movements in nationalism and liberalism. While Australian nationalism was ‘neither revolutionary nor anti-British’, Federation, enacted on the first day of the new century, was a ‘deeply aspirational and optimistic movement’, a ‘new age’ marked by ‘self-improvement, spiritualism and free-thinking’. In the light of Irving’s article, it would be interesting to ask students to compare how sentiments of nationalism have changed over time, from the Federation celebrations at the beginning of the 20th century, to recent events associated with the celebration of Australia day in the first decades of the 21st century.

The final chapter, ‘The history anxiety’ by Mark McKenna (best known for his biography of Manning Clark) eloquently summarises the historiography of Australian history, and helps us understand that the process of nation building is ongoing. McKenna points out that ‘The story of Federation lacked the necessary ingredients of national self-realisation: blood sacrifice and the heroic casting-off of an oppressive overlord. As a consequence, in the decade after Federation there was a hunger for the blooding of the national character, perhaps in an imperial war, one that would finally establish the credentials of Australia as a nation in its own right’. His statement that ‘Every nation is brought into being through the writing of history’ also explains the significance of the The Cambridge History of Australia in the context of this moment in time. McKenna’s thought-provoking summary and analysis of Australian history writing should be compulsory reading for all history teachers.

The Cambridge History of Australia is a comprehensive and timely publication that will bring teachers up-to-date with latest scholarship in readiness for the implementation of the new Australian Curriculum: History in NSW over the next two years. It is a ‘must-have’ for school and faculty libraries, and highly recommended for the private libraries of individual teachers with a special interest in and enthusiasm for Australian history.

Louise Zarmati


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