Book Reviews

The HTAV receives books and other educational materials on a regular basis for the purpose of reviewing in Agora. We are always looking for teachers willing to offer their services as reviewers of these resources. If you are interested in reviewing one of the titles listed here please contact Alan Tiller at a.tiller@htav.asn.au. Of course, all our reviewers are invited to keep books reviewed with our compliments.

Writing your review
Reviews should be between 500 and 1500 words long and be submitted to Alan Tiller in Word format within about two months of receiving the book. We invite reviews of titles in a variety of formats (e.g. textbooks, novels, journals, picture books, audio-visual materials) and on a range of historical subjects.

Reviewers should identify the book's title, author, publisher, year of publication, no. of pages and retail price. They should give a brief summary of the overall content and then focus on specific aspects, discussing the quality and usefulness of the written content and the images/illustrations; where applicable, classroom application of the material should be stated. Reviewers are expected to comment on the strengths and limitations of the title while maintaining a respectful tone at all times. They should cite specific examples from the work and comment on the merits of the work as a whole. Contributors with close links to institutions or companies should avoid reviewing titles published by these bodies.

The HTAV endeavours to publish all reviews received in their original form. However, we reserve the right to edit or reject submissions, or hold items over for later publication.

TITLES CURRENTLY AVAILABLE FOR REVIEW

Australian Lives: An Intimate History
Anisa Puri and Alistair Thomson, Monash University Publishing, 2017
'Australian Lives: An Intimate History' illuminates Australian life across the twentieth and into the twenty-first century: how Australian people have been shaped by the forces and expectations of contemporary history and how, in turn, they have made their lives and created Australian society. From oral history interviews with Australians born between 1920 and 1989, fifty narrators reflect on their diverse experiences as children and teenagers, in midlife and in old age, about faith, migration, work and play, aspiration and activism, memory and identity, pain and happiness. In Australian Lives you can read the comedy, heartache and drama of ordinary Australians’ extraordinary lives. As an interviewee Kim Bear (born 1959) explains, ‘Stories are a great way to inform people about what it is to be human. Even if you say one thing that resonates … there’s that connection made.’

Scorched Earth: Australia's Secret Plan for Total War Under Japanese Invasion in World War II
Sue Rosen, Allen & Unwin, 2017
In 1942 the threat of Japanese invasion hung over Australia. The men were away overseas, fighting on other fronts, and civilians were left unprotected at home. Following the attack on Pearl Harbor and the Japanese advance south, Prime Minister Curtin ordered state governments to prepare. From January 1942, a team frantically pulled together secret plans for a 'scorched earth' strategy. The goal was to prevent the Japanese from seizing resources for their war machine as they landed, and capturing Australians as slaves as they had done in Malaya and elsewhere in Asia.

From draining domestic water tanks to sinking dinghies and burning crops, from training special citizen squads to evacuating coastal towns, 'Total war, total citizen collaboration' was the motto. Today these plans vividly evoke the fraught atmosphere of the year Australia was threatened with invasion. After the war these top secret plans were forgotten. This is the first time they have ever been made public.

A Handful of Sand: The Guringji Struggle, After the Walk-Off
Charlie Ward, Monash University Publishing, 2016

Fifty years ago, a group of striking Aboriginal stockmen in the remote Northern Territory of Australia heralded a revolution in the cattle industry and a massive shift in Aboriginal affairs. Now, after many years of research, A Handful of Sand tells the story behind the Gurindji people’s famous Wave Hill Walk-off in 1966 and questions the meanings commonly attributed to the return of their land by Gough Whitlam in 1975. Written with a sensitive, candid and perceptive hand, A Handful of Sand reveals the path Vincent Lingiari and other Gurindji elders took to achieve their land rights victory, and how their struggles in fact began, rather than ended, with Whitlam’s handback.

Alice Springs: From singing wire to outback town
Stuart Traynor, Wakefield Press, 2016

In 1870 a colonial government, on the brink of collapse, made an audacious move. South Australia's squabbling politicians briefly put aside their differences and took the bold decision to run an iron wire to the middle of nowhere and beyond. Stringing the Overland Telegraph Line across the silent heart of the continent was a momentous event in the country's history. It connected Adelaide to a global network of cables and wire: those travelling up and down the track through central Australia were seldom out of earshot of its hum. Alice Springs was its most important repeater station.

Alice Springs: From singing wire to iconic outback town is the result of eight years of meticulous research unravelling the early history of central Australia's first white settlement. It contains information, never previously published, about that little outpost - a significant heritage site - and how an iconic town was born nearby, during a goldrush that made few people rich. It is a tale of the country's heart and some of its most remarkable but little-known characters, and of children torn between two cultures living at the telegraph station after the morse keys stopped clicking in 1932; children under the shadow of the most controversial piece of legislation in Australia's history. Central Australia has a black history.

Alice Springs is no longer the small, outback community romanticised in Nevil Shute's novel A Town like Alice. But its people, black and white, are still living on the line.

The Vagabond Papers
Michael Canon (ed), Monash University Publishing, 2016

Australian life has never had a chronicler quite like the Vagabond. Renowned as journalist and ‘eminently unconventional character’, he suffered extremes of poverty and prosperity. These enabled him to record first-hand experiences revealing the degradation of life in the festering slums of the Victorian era. They also enabled him to write convincingly about the emergence of a well-off middle class in the fast-developing colonies. The Vagabond repeatedly shocked newly respectable citizens with his lively reporting of scandalous situations – baby farming, harsh conditions in prisons and asylums, savage sporting events, the life of the demi-monde, and pathetic pauper funerals.

Long Tan: The Start of a Lifelong Battle
Harry Smith, Big Sky Publishing, 2015

On the afternoon of 18 August 1966, just five kilometres from the main Australian Task Force base at Nui Dat, a group of Viet Cong soldiers walked into the right flank of Delta Company, 6 RAR. Under a blanket of mist and heavy monsoon rain, amid the mud and shattered rubber trees, a dispersed Company of 108 men held its ground with courage and grim determination against a three-sided attack from a force of 2,500 Viet Cong and North Vietnamese Army troops.

Written in partnership with award-winning journalist Toni McRae, Long Tan is also Harry’s life story and portrays his many personal battles, from failed marriages to commando-style killing; from a horrific parachute accident through to his modern-day struggles with bureaucracy for recognition for his soldiers. Harry’s battles are tempered by his love of sailing, where he has at last found some peace. Long Tan portrays the wrenching, visceral experience of a man who has fought lifelong battles, in a story that he is only now able to tell. Harry can still hear the gunfire and smell the blood spilt at Long Tan. For him, the fight continues.

Australian Bushrangers: Captain Thunderbolt
Jane Smith, Big Sky Publishing, 2014

Frederick Wordsworth Ward, better known as ‘Captain Thunderbolt’, was a bushranger who plagued New South Wales for almost seven years during one of the longest bushranging ‘careers’ in history. Thunderbolt was intelligent, charming and courageous; a great storyteller who enjoyed much public support despite his crimes. Although a horse thief and a highway robber, he has become something of a romantic figure of Australia’s past. Many legends have grown up around him – stories of a devoted husband and father, a gentleman, a lover of music and literature; a man who hated violence and a victim of the law. The truth, however, is quite a different story!

This book provides a fascinating account of Thunderbolt’s life and some of his more notable exploits. It also refutes many of the popular myths that surround him. It is full of interesting facts and loaded with images, newspaper clippings and records. Captain Thunderbolt is part of the Australian Bushrangers series by librarian and historical researcher, Jane Smith. This entertaining series details the lives of six of Australia’s most famous bushrangers of the gold rush era. The books are written especially for middle primary readers, but will appeal to history lovers of all ages. MIDDLE PRIMARY

Australian Bushrangers: Captain Starlight
Jane Smith, Big Sky Publishing, 2014

The Australian Bushrangers series by librarian and historical researcher, Jane Smith, details the colourful lives of six of Australia’s most famous bushrangers of the gold rush era: Captain Thunderbolt, Captain Moonlite, Frank Gardiner, The fifth book in the series features the two men know as “Captain Starlight”. .Both were bushrangers who travelled widely across the country in the second half of the nineteenth century, and although their backgrounds and their crimes differed greatly, they are linked by their connection with a character from a novel.

Frank Pearson was the first “Starlight” who burst onto the scene in 1868, when he abandoned his practice as a doctor, stole a horse and took off on a bushranging spree that ended in a shoot-out and the death of a policeman. Pearson was a very talented man: intelligent, well-educated and well-read, and a clever artist and composer. He was also a pathological liar with no moral compass whatsoever. The intriguing thing about him is that we know nothing about his first thirty years. He had so many aliases that we don’t even know what his real name was.

The other was Henry Readford, whose stunning theft of 1000 cattle was the inspiration for the fictional character “Captain Starlight” in Rolf Boldrewood’s novel Robbery under arms. This book is full of fascinating facts and legendary exploits as it explores the lives of both of the bushrangers known for very different reasons. With reference to newspapers, gaol records, police records and other primary sources it narrates the captivating stories of their crimes, their lives, their imprisonments and their ultimately their deaths. MIDDLE PRIMARY

Australian Bushrangers: Captain Moonlite
Jane Smith, Big Sky Publishing, 2014

In 1869 Mt Egerton was outraged by the armed hold-up of the local bank by a masked villain calling himself ‘Captain Moonlite’.The shock deepened when the perpetrator turned out to be the new lay preacher, Andrew George Scott. On his release from prison Moonlite led a ragged bunch of young desperadoes to stage a siege that would end in a shoot-out and the death of a policeman. His death cell protestations of innocence raise doubts and sympathy in the hearts of some historians even today. This book tells the story of Captain Moonlite’s life, from his birth in Ireland to his death on the gallows. MIDDLE PRIMARY

Australian Bushrangers: Ben Hall
Jane Smith, Big Sky Publishing, 2014

Ben Hall, sometimes referred to as the “gentleman bushranger”, was the son of poor ex-convicts. His early adult life held promise though; he was hard-working and well respected. He had a family and a partnership in his own cattle station. Then a series of misfortunes befell Hall and his path crossed that of the notorious bushranger Frank Gardiner. Influenced by Gardiner and his gang, Ben Hall entered into a life of crime. During his three years as a bushranger, Hall and his gang committed hundreds of robberies, many of which were violent. For a time, however, Hall had the support of the public, who respected his daring and courage and admired him for outwitting the police. This book tells the story of Ben’s life, his notorious exploits as a bushranger and the events that lead to his ultimate betrayal and death. MIDDLE PRIMARY

Australian Bushrangers: Frank Gardiner
Jane Smith, Big Sky Publishing, 2014

There were few bushrangers whose influence extended as far as that of Frank Gardiner. Handsome, clever, charismatic and dangerous, he inspired many young men to abandon the drudgery of their honest work and turn to highway robbery. So strong was his influence that it set in motion a craze known as “Gardinerism”. Gardiner was the leader of the infamous Gold Escort robbery at Eugowra Rocks; he was the one who almost “got away” with the crime. escaping to Queensland and running a successful public house until his eventual, controversial arrest. Such was the man’s charm and influence that respectable citizens petitioned successfully on his behalf and Gardiner was released early from gaol amid a storm of controversy. This book outlines the life of Frank Gardiner, his descent into crime and the mystery of his final years in exile. MIDDLE PRIMARY

Tommy Bell, Bushranger Boy: Shoot-out at the Rock (Book 1)
Jane Smith, Big Sky Publishing, 2016

Tommy Bell, Bushranger Boy is a wonderful new series featuring Tommy’s time travelling escapades that take him face-to-face with some of Australia’s most notorious bushrangers. The hero of the series, Tommy Bell, lives in regional NSW in contemporary times but is able to travel back in time to the gold rush days by wearing an old bushranger’s hat that he discovered on his grandfather’s farm.

Tommy and his friends find themselves up close and personal with one of Australia’s well known outlaws. With each adventure there is plenty of danger and excitement: armed hold-ups, sieges, frauds, shoot-outs, police chases, jail-time and much more. Each book cleverly incorporates a parallel story from Tommy’s twenty-first century life that tests his friendships and develops his character.

In Shoot-out at the Rock Tommy Bell has been sent to work on his grandparents’ farm for the school holidays. He doesn’t want to go, but when he discovers an old bushranger’s hat hidden in a cave, everything changes. Suddenly he is sent back to the gold rush days and finds himself face-to-face with the bushranger Captain Thunderbolt! At first, the life of a bushranger seems full of thrills and adventure. But Tommy soon learns that it is full of danger as well…

Tommy Bell, Bushranger Boy: The Horse Thief (Book 2)
Jane Smith, Big Sky Publishing, 2016

Tommy Bell, Bushranger Boy is a wonderful new series featuring Tommy’s time travelling escapades that take him face-to-face with some of Australia’s most notorious bushrangers. The hero of the series, Tommy Bell, lives in regional NSW in contemporary times but is able to travel back in time to the gold rush days by wearing an old bushranger’s hat that he discovered on his grandfather’s farm.

Tommy and his friends find themselves up close and personal with one of Australia’s well known outlaws. With each adventure there is plenty of danger and excitement: armed hold-ups, sieges, frauds, shoot-outs, police chases, jail-time and much more. Each book cleverly incorporates a parallel story from Tommy’s twenty-first century life that tests his friendships and develops his character.

In The Horse Thief, Tommy Bell is happy when the popular new kid at school wants him to join his gang. His new friend is trouble but he’s not half as much trouble as the bushranger that Tommy meets when his magic hat takes him back to the gold rush days. Tommy finds himself in the middle of a horse robbery, a police chase and a prison escape! PRIMARY

Tommy Bell, Bushranger Boy: The Gold Escort Gang (Book 3)
Jane Smith, Big Sky Publishing, 2016

Tommy Bell, Bushranger Boy is a wonderful new series featuring Tommy’s time travelling escapades that take him face-to-face with some of Australia’s most notorious bushrangers. The hero of the series, Tommy Bell, lives in regional NSW in contemporary times but is able to travel back in time to the gold rush days by wearing an old bushranger’s hat that he discovered on his grandfather’s farm.

Tommy and his friends find themselves up close and personal with one of Australia’s well known outlaws. With each adventure there is plenty of danger and excitement: armed hold-ups, sieges, frauds, shoot-outs, police chases, jail-time and much more. Each book cleverly incorporates a parallel story from Tommy’s twenty-first century life that tests his friendships and develops his character.

In The Gold Escort Gang, Tommy Bell finds himself caught in a struggle between two friends, he decides to take a break from it all and escape...back to 1862! Tommy’s magic cabbage-tree hat sends him back once again to the gold rush days, when he stumbles into more trouble than he left behind. Face-to-face with the dangerous Frank Gardiner and his mates ‘Flash Jack’ and Ben Hall, Tommy learns about the value of true friendship...and about how it feels to be part of one of most infamous robberies in Australia’s history!

You'll Be Sorry! How World War II changed women's lives
Ann Howard, Big Sky Publishing, 2016

In You’ll Be Sorry! Ann Howard honours grandmothers and mothers in a superb account of women’s participation in the Services during World War II, and their ensuing battle for equal opportunity that set the foundation for the Women’s Liberation Movement of the 70s.

You’ll Be Sorry! is an absorbing account of the experiences of women serving in the Australian Women’s Army Service, and other Services. Ann Howard captures the resistance and prejudice 66,000 women experienced as they left home to join the Services in WWll. Their stories range across Australia and are recounted with unflagging honesty. Howard presents a vivid account of women’s growing confidence as they were given responsible positions, only to find there was no place for them outside the home after peace was declared. They returned to find the men had taken the jobs. There was a social expectation that they should return to their homes, have babies and carry on as before and care for the often traumatised returning men. Many of their stories are horrendous.

This book is a result of previous material published in the 1990s, and still in great demand. Many of the wonderful women Howard interviewed are no longer with us, so these accounts are historically invaluable.

Death By Mustard Gas: How Military Secrecy and Lost Weapons can Kill
Geoff Plunkett, Big Sky Publishing, 2014

In 1943 a top secret consignment of chemical weapons, including deadly mustard gas, arrived in Australia by ship. But there was a problem — it was leaking. Military authorities quickly realised this but, in the interests of secrecy, sent unprotected and unsuspecting wharf labourers into a lethal environment. The result was catastrophic: permanent disability and death. This shocking narrative includes accounts of official deceit, intimidation of gassed labourers and denial of natural justice. The truth, buried in classified documents and the testimony of the few survivors, is that human life was sacrificed for the sake of secrecy.

Almost 70 years after war stocks of chemical weapons were apparently totally destroyed, mustard gas is still present on the Australian mainland, in her oceans and along her coastal fringes. The total destruction of chemical stocks is simply another military assumption. The truth is that these deadly weapons were incompletely destroyed, buried or simply lost. Many retain their effectiveness despite the passing of time, a fact that cost one man his life and saw staff and children at a school badly burned. Mustard gas weapons have been retrieved as recently as 2012 and more may lie in shallow graves waiting to be uncovered. This is a very real lesson for the military of today.

A Carefree War: The Hidden History of Australian WWII Child Evacuees
Ann Howard, Big Sky Publishing, 2015

During World War II Australia was under threat of invasion. Could Australia be invaded by the Japanese? Even with the heavy censorship by the government many certainly thought so and the nation was gripped by fear that the danger would soon be on their doorstep.

The Japanese appeared to be looming closer; there were submarines in Sydney Harbour, Japanese planes flying overhead and harassment on our coastline. Australians were fearful for their safety. Anxious parents made decisions to protect their children, with or without government sanction. Small children were sent away, often unaccompanied, by concerned parents to friends, relatives, or even strangers living in ‘safer’ parts of the country. Some had little comprehension of what was happening and thought they were going on holiday to the country.

The history of these child evacuees in Australia remains largely hidden and their experiences untold. Author Ann Howard, who was evacuated with her mother from the UK during World War II, has set the records straight. A combination of extensive research and the first-hand stories of the evacuees captures the mood of the time and the social and political environment that they lived in. Unlike the sometimes sad and horrible experiences of their UK counterparts, for many Australian child evacuees there enforced ‘holiday’ was a surprisingly happy time.

A Carefree War tells the story of the largest upheaval in Australia since white settlement using oral memoirs and box camera photos, all placed within the frameworks of history. The voices of over one hundred contributors join together to paint a vivid picture of wartime Australia; the fear, the chaos and civilians floundering under the impact of a war that would change their way of life forever.

Anzac Sons
Allison Marlow Paterson, Big Sky Publishing, 2014

It is April 27, 1918, Jim’s brother writes from the battlefields of France. Of five brothers serving on the Western Front, three have given their lives; another has been hospitalised. Six agonising months of brutal warfare were yet to be endured…

The Great War was a senseless tragedy. Its long shadow darkened the four corners of the world. In Mologa, Victoria, once a bustling community, stands a lonely stone memorial. Etched within the granite are the names of the Marlow brothers and their mates; a testament to ordinary people who became heroes.

Anzac Sons is composed from a collection of over five hundred letters and postcards written by the brothers who served. From the training grounds of Victoria, Egypt and England, to the Western Front battlefields - Pozieres, Bullecourt, Messines, Menin Road, Passchendaele, Villers-Bretonneux and the village battles of 1918 – this compelling true story was compiled by the granddaughter of a surviving brother. She takes us on her journey as she walks in the footsteps of her ancestors. This is a story of mateship, bravery and sacrifice; it is a heartbreaking account of a family torn apart by war. It is a pledge to never forget.

The Hanged Man and the Body Thief
Alexandra Roginski, Monash University Publishing, 2015

1860. An Aboriginal labourer named Jim Crow is led to the scaffold of the Maitland Gaol in colonial New South Wales. Among the onlookers is the Scotsman AS Hamilton, who will later take bizarre steps in the aftermath of the execution to exhume this young man’s skull. Hamilton is a lecturer who travels the Australian colonies teaching phrenology, a popular science that claims character and intellect can be judged from a person’s head. For Hamilton, Jim Crow is an important prize.

A century and a half later, researchers at Museum Victoria want to repatriate Jim Crow and other Aboriginal people from Hamilton’s collection of human remains to their respective communities. But their only clues are damaged labels and skulls. With each new find, more questions emerge. Who was Jim Crow? Why was he executed? And how did he end up so far south in Melbourne?

In a compelling and original work of history, Alexandra Roginski leads the reader through her extensive research aimed at finding the person within the museum piece. Reconstructing the narrative of a life and a theft, she crafts a case study that elegantly navigates between legal and Aboriginal history, heritage studies and biography.

My Vietnam War: Scarred Forever
Dave Morgan, Big Sky Publishing, 2014

My Vietnam is Dave Morgan’s story. A typical 20 year old, he was forced into extraordinary circumstances in Vietnam. Far from his carefree youth, the Vietnam War would expose Dave to an atmosphere of ever-present danger and sheer terror that would impact him forever. His return to a divided Australia would isolate him further.

During his service Dave wrote home to his mother from Vietnam tracking the days and the events. In 1992, after his mother passed away, he found all of his letters carefully numbered and in order. He has combined these letters with his own recollections and diary entries, and the short stories of seven other veterans, to capture the unbelievable danger andhorror that these young men experienced in Vietnam.

Dave also describes how Vietnam established life-long feelings of intense loyalty, trust and mateship between the men that served there. Dave’s story focuses on his time as a soldier and his return psychologically exhausted to a divided nation. After Vietnam and the freedom of ‘home’, Dave tried to live a normal life, however the horror he’d experienced caught up with him. The pressure was immense. Eventually, something had to give. It wasn’t ever a matter of if, but when you would crack. The impact of Vietnam on his life has been, and continues to be, immeasurable.

To Kokoda
Nicholas Anderson, Big Sky Publishing, 2014

When the Japanese war machine swept through South-East Asia in early 1942, it was inevitable that conflict would reach Australian territory on the island of New Guinea. The ultimate Japanese target was Port Moresby. Conquering the capital would sever communication between Australia and her American ally and allow Japanese air power to threaten Australia’s northern cities.

The Landing at Anzac: 1915
Chris Roberts, Big Sky Publishing, 2015

The Landing at Anzac, 1915 challenges many of the cherished myths of the most celebrated battle in Australian and New Zealand history — myths that have endured for almost a century. Told from both the Anzac and Turkish perspectives, this meticulously researched account questions several of the claims of Charles Bean’s magisterial and much-quoted Australian official history and presents a fresh examination of the evidence from a range of participants. The Landing at Anzac, 1915 reaches a carefully argued conclusion in which Roberts draws together the threads of his analysis delivering some startling findings. But the author’s interest extends beyond the simple debunking of hallowed myths, and he produces a number of lessons for the armies of today. This is a book that pulls the Gallipoli campaign into the modern era and provides a compelling argument for its continuing relevance. In short, today’s armies must never forget the lessons of Gallipoli.

Edward Eyre: Desert Explorer
Melanie Guile, Macmillan, 2016

Edward Eyre wanted to be the first European to travel from Adelaide to Western Australia, across the harsh Nullarbor Plain. He was fiercely determined, but without the Aboriginal people he met along the way he certainly would have died. Read the astounding story of Eyre's life and discover how he was able to succeed where others had failed. UPPER PRIMARY.

Why the British Colonised Australia
Carmel Reilly, Macmillan, 2016

The First Fleet arrived with 750 convicts on Australia's shores in 1788. But what was going on in Britain to prompt this journey to the far side of the world? What was life like in Britain in the 1700s, and why were there so many convicts? Why did the British choose Australia as the site of the new colony? This book explores the reasons for Britain's settlement in Australia. UPPER PRIMARY.

Indigenous Australians : Before and After Settlement
Melanie Guile, Macmillan, 2016

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples lived undisturbed on their lands for thousands of years. When European settlers arrived in Australia, Indigenous people's lives were changed forever. Discover how some Indigenous communities have maintained their culture and traditions since colonisation. UPPER PRIMARY.

A Home So Far Away
Carmel Reilly, Macmillan, 2016

It is 1824 in colonial Australia and twelve-year-old Eliza has made friends with Hannah, the family's servant. Eliza finds out tha Hannah has a secret and will need Eliza's help, but will Eliza be able to come up with a plan? UPPER PRIMARY.

Australian Colonial Communities Anthology
Macmillan, 2016

The short texts in this anthology explore a range of inquiry questions. UPPER PRIMARY.

What do we know about the lives of people in Australia's colonial past and how do we know?

How did an Australian colony develop over time and why?

How did colonial settlement change the environment?

What were the significant events and who were the significant people that shaped Australian colonies?

Australian Colonial Communities: Teacher Resource Book
Charlotte Forwoord, Macmillan, 2016

Features of the Teacher Resource Book include:

Curriculum links, an overview of each key inquiry and the resources required

Detailed lesson plans for each guided inquiry stage

Reproducible activity sheets designed to assist in further developing historical knowledge, understanding and skills

Assessment rubrics for students to evaluate their own learning, and for teachers to record students' progress

Respectable Radicals: A History of the National Council of Women of Australia 1896-2006
Marian Quartly and Judith Smart, Monash University Publishing, 2015

For much of the twentieth century, the National Council of Women of Australia was the peak body representing women to government in Australia, and through the International Council of Women, to the world. This history of NCWA tells the story of mainstream feminism in Australia, of the long struggle for equality at home and at work which is still far from achieved. In these days when women can no longer be imagined as speaking with one voice, and women as a group have no ready access to government, we still need something of the optimistic vision of the leaders of NCWA. Respectable in hat and gloves to the 1970s and beyond, they politely persisted with the truly radical idea that women the world over should be equal with men.

Saved To Remember: Raoul Wallenberg, Budapest 1944 and After
Frank Vajda, Monash University Publishing, 2016

Frank Vajda, a major figure in Australian neurology, was a boy in Budapest, Hungary, during the Second World War. In the care of his courageous and ever-resourceful mother, he survived the attempt by Hitler’s Nazis and a fascist Hungarian militia to murder him, his family and the rest of the Jews of this nation. In Saved to Remember Vajda vividly and matter-of-factly conveys what life was like for Jews trying to stay alive in a world where the law of the land, backed up by brute soldierly force, suddenly determined that they were to be killed, and how they hid, bluffed, and fought to avoid that fate.

Writing for Raksmey: A Story of Cambodia
Joan Healy, Monash University Publishing, 2016

Writing for Raksmey tells of the lives of six families who fled the aftermath of the Cambodian killing fields, were held in a crowded refugee camp at the border of their country, and then sent back to a nation still at war. The past is not spoken about but the struggles are not over and the sons and daughters of those who once were refugees sense mystery in their legacy and know it is important to them. Joan Healy lived and worked quietly with these refugees for many years. In response to a young man who said he ‘needed to know everything’, she has told a story of his troubled homeland, retrieved from the fading pages of her journals and letters. The saga of this quarter century is witness to both a determination to survive and human goodness that was never quenched. Joan Healy’s personal, learned, eye-witness account is essential reading for anyone seeking to understand Cambodia.

Into the Heart of Tasmania
Rebe Taylor, Melbourne University Press, 2017
In 1908 English gentleman, Ernest Westlake, packed a tent, a bicycle and forty tins of food and sailed to Tasmania. On mountains, beaches and in sheep paddocks he collected over 13,000 Aboriginal stone tools. Westlake believed he had found the remnants of an extinct race whose culture was akin to the most ancient Stone Age Europeans. But in the remotest corners of the island Westlake encountered living Indigenous communities. Into the Heart of Tasmania tells a story of discovery and realisation. One man's ambition to rewrite the history of human culture inspires an exploration of the controversy stirred by Tasmanian Aboriginal history. It brings to life how Australian and British national identities have been fashioned by shame and triumph over the supposed destruction of an entire race. To reveal the beating heart of Aboriginal Tasmania is to be confronted with a history that has never ended.

Australian Encounters: Heroes, Villains and Ratbags (DVD)
Suitcase Murphy, 2013
Presented with humour and verve, Australian Encounters celebrates ten historic encounters, each between a renowned Australian and an international mover and shaker. What happened when Bob Hawke locked horns with Frank Sinatra? When Lionel Rose sparred with Elvis? And when Enrico Caruso slipped a hot Italian sausage into Nellie Melba’s captive palm? Narrated by Geoffrey Rush, the encounters span more than 100 years, from Ned Kelly and Redmond Barry in 1880, through to Kylie Minogue and Michael Hutchence in 1987.

While I Can Still Remember...Norfolk Island: An Historic Novel
Lyn Duclos, Piland Press, 2015
Suitable for young readers (upper primary/early secondary) to learn about the history of Norfolk Island in a novel way. Lone Pine, a 650 year-old Norfolk Island pine, stands on a limestone cliff on Norfolk Island. At the base of its trunk a sapling – Piali – clings to the cliff as fierce storms threaten to destroy it.The island is waiting for Piali to grow strong enough to replace the old tree who has been the keeper of the island’s stories. These must be passed on so that the species will remain intact. Suddenly the Norfolk Island pines begin to shed their bark and drop their branches. The same is happening on the mainland of Australia. Their friends – fairy terns and green sea turtles – are desperate to halt the progress of the pines’ extinction. But Lone Pine’s memory is fading and time is running out for Piali to take in the stories that have occupied Lone Pine for centuries.

The Most Fearless and Gallant Soldier I Have Ever Seen
Ian Loftus, self-published, 2016
This is the first biography of Martin O’Meara VC, Australia’s only Irish-born Victoria Cross recipient of the First World War. The book trace’s Martin’s life from a young man growing up in rural County Tipperary, through his early years labouring on railway construction projects in South Australia and Western Australia, his wartime service in Egypt and on the Western Front with the 16th Battalion of the Australian Imperial Force, and his subsequent breakdown and life in mental hospitals in Perth after the war.

Marching as to War
Don Charlwood, Burgewood Books, 2011 (2nd edn)
An eloquent and evocative autobiographical account of growing up in Australia between the two World Wars. The book describes life in Australia at that time, the influences of family, school and the Great Depression, as well as an exploration of the attitudes that led young Australians to support England in World War II. This new edition from Burgewood Books contains photos, belonging to the author and his family, that illustrate the era and the events in the book.

Settlers Under Sail
Don Charlwood, Burgewood Books, 2011
Commissioned by the Victorian (Australia) Government's History Advisory Council to commemorate, in 1978, the centenary of the wreck of the Loch Ard, this book celebrates the era of sailing ship immigration to Australia and tells the story of the famous Loch Ard. It contains many fascinating photos and sketches.


The Wreck of the Sailing Ship Netherby: A Miracle of Survival
Don Charlwood, Burgewood Books, 2012 (2nd edn)
The Wreck of the Sailing Ship Netherby is the story of an 1866 shipwreck on the western coast of King Island, in southern Australia. It tells of a near miracle, vividly related by three different participants. Here was a ship with 413 emigrant passengers and a crew of 38, impaled by night on serrated reefs not far from the 1845 remains of the Cataraqui. The Cataraqui had lost 399 lives. The senior officers of the Netherby were instrumental in saving the lives of all those aboard their vessel, plus a baby born on the island to one of the rescued passengers!

Banjo Paterson
Written by Allan Drummond, with illustrations by the renowned Glenn Lumsden, Green Barrow Publishing
Discover the man behind 'The Man From Snowy River', 'Waltzing Matilda' and 'Clancy of the Overflow' in this engaging and fully illustrated biography, ideal for children aged 10 - 14 years. Follow-up activities linked to the Australian Curriculum: History in Years 5 and 6 are also available, making Banjo Paterson an excellent classroom resource and an informative introduction for the general reader. Other titles by Green Barrow Publishing available for review (for similar year levels) include Peter Lalor, Lachlan Macquarie and Charlemagne.

Yagan
Alex Kopp, illustrations by Glenn Lumsden, Green Barrow Publishing
Yagan and his Nyoongar people did not invite Europeans to settle in the Perth area in 1829, and they soon had reason to regret their coming. Yagan was a leader of their resistance. He was killed, as were his father, his brother and many others. there was a war on: a war which it is time to acknowledge. Ideal for children aged 10-14 years.

Annette Kellerman
Leo Gamble, illustrations by Milan Ristic, Green Barrow Publishing
Annette Kellerman (1887-1975) contracted polio as a young child in Sydney, but it did not stop her from becoming a world famous long distance swimmer, a vaudeville star in America and Europe, and a megastar of the silent movies. Ideal for children aged 10-14 years.

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