Review Blog

Nov 12 2013

The big book of Australian history by Peter MacInnis

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National Library of Australia, 2013. ISBN 9780642278326.
(Age: Primary and Secondary) Highly recommended. From the National Library of Australia comes this richly illustrated book that encapsulates Australia's history from its birth in ancient times to right now, touching on all the significant periods in our development and examining why we are who we are.
But this is no ordinary, dry, dusty history tome - this is from Peter Macinnis whose passion is to squirrel out the unusual and the unknown and bring them to life with his wonderful wordsmithery. So as well all that you would expect from a book with this title, there is so much more as Peter puts on his investigator's hat and goes searching for why and what and who. So even though it's a dip-and-delve book, the text is written in such an engaging way that you want to keep reading, and the notes and illustrations make you want to keep exploring. From the ancient megafauna which roamed this land to the presence of Australians on the world's stages, this book charts the nation's history in a way that educates and entertains and keeps you flipping the pages. Each section has tempting tasters that make you want to find out more. For example, there's a quote from Albert Facey's A Fortunate Life in which he says he believes Simpson (of Simpson and his donkey fame) should have received a Victoria Cross, which makes you ask, 'Well, why didn't he?'
If you are familiar with Peter's other books such as The Australian Backyard Naturalist or Curious Minds: The Discoveries of Australian Naturalists then you will know how thoroughly this new title has been researched and how well it has been written. It is a must on the shelves of every school library - primary and secondary.
Barbara Braxton

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