Friday, 3 January 2014

The Big Book of Australian History

The Big Book of Australian History by Peter Macinnis (National Library of Australia Publishing)
HB RRP $39.99
ISBN 9780642278326
Reviewed by Vicki Stanton

What a fantastic book! And it is indeed a big book encompassing the history of a big country from its very formation to contemporary times.

Written largely in a chronological fashion, Macinnis' informative and child-friendly text charts the course of Australia's pre-history and history. Beginning with the formation of our island continent and mega-fauna, chapters then explore the coming of the first people to Australia and Indigenous culture, early explorers and the founding of the colonies, exploration by Europeans, the gold rushes and the resultant growth of the cities, federation, the Great War and the ANZACs, the Great Depression, World War Two and post-war Australia. There are also thematic chapters on modern times, sport (of course - this is a book about Australia!), disasters, multiculturalism, the arts and controversies, some of which are still lingering and unresolved.

NLA Publishing always draws on the vast archives of the Library and this visual aspect adds so much. Maps, photographs, paintings and objects illustrate Australia's history as much as the text and combines to offer a sumptuous insight to our nation in the past, present and future. Importantly, the book ends with the reminder that everyone contributes to history and there is a call to all of us to make Australia a better place through our actions.

While it was written specifically for young people, all of us will find something in this comprehensive coverage of every aspect of Australian history - the good, the bad and the ugly - and the often conflicting perspectives held. Every home in Australia deserves a copy of this outstanding book. I leave ours on the coffee table and without fail everyone picks it up to peruse the gorgeous glossy pages chock full of Australia's heritage.

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