By Rama Gaind
PS News Books
The Pocketbook of Aussie History
By Brendan Gullifer (Black Inc., $9.95, softcover, 107 pages)
There are no superfluities in The Pocketbook of Aussie History. Instead, it offers an entertaining guide to Australia’s curious past, full of helpful facts—and a wholesome dose of irreverence.
History is one subject that might bore some people, but its importance cannot be overlooked.
It would be fair to say that journalism is the first rough draft of history. While the newspaper industry struggles to subsist and reinvent itself, Brendan Gullifer acknowledges the role of libraries. They offer a great resource with collections where you get the chance to “look through a telescope pointed at our past”.
“Over the past decade, Australian history has become a more mainstream subject of public discussion and interpretation. This is healthy. But this pocketbook is something else: a volume of facts and dates and a handy reference guide to Australia’s history you can read it cover to cover, dip in and out of it for inspiration or information, or use it to solve an argument.”
How often have you wished for correct answers, quickly, to some fundamental questions including the second verse of ‘Advance Australia Fair’ or who was the first woman to stand for federal parliament?
Here, in one handy reference, are the dates and deeds, the heroes and villains, the icons and famous words that have shaped our country and its place in the world.
Simply laid out, the second edition notes a strengthening of the role of women in Australia’s public life with the first female Governor General, Prime Minister and state premiers.
It is true that “hindsight puts things into place. With distance, patterns emerge. With the passing of time, the seemingly random and unfathomable becomes one more piece in a jigsaw”.
This book is a worthy addition to the library, especially when “it’s a scaffold for understanding, and hopefully a springboard to encourage further investigation”.
Edition 405, 15 April 2014
To find out more about Rama Gaind click here.