Review Blog

May 06 2015

The big book of Australian History by Peter Macinnis

cover image

2nd edition. National Library of Australia, 2015. ISBN 9780642278722
Australia's history has been in the spotlight with the commemoration of the centenary of ANZAC Day so it is fitting that the new and revised edition of this magnificent work be released at this time.
Peter Macinnis is a rare breed of author - not only is he a meticulous researcher winkling out the most extraordinary and often unknown material but he also then shapes it into a narrative that brings the times alive for the reader. I always look forward to reading and reviewing his work because I know I will learn amazing things as I do.
Accompanied by stunning and unique images from the collection of the National Library of Australia, we journey through a timeline that spans the formulation of the continent as plate tectonics caused the separation of the land mass known as Pangea to the present where we are reminded that we are "history makers" and that what we do with our lives becomes part of this nation's history. Using a chronological format, we journey through ancient Australia, The Dreaming, the coming of the Europeans and the founding and forging of a nation. From the end of World War II when Australia's growth was rapid through migration to the embracing of multicultural Australia; from Aboriginal land rights to apologising to the Stolen Generations; from droughts to flooding rains, Macinnis tells stories of the unusual, the unknown and the unique that we need to know, and tells them in a way that allows the reader to dip and delve, seek and savour, and engages, educates and entertains.
The first edition of The big book of Australian History in 2013 was a Notable Book in the CBCA Book of the Year awards which is testament to its quality. Regardless of whether this edition has the coveted sticker, it is a must on the shelves of every school library, primary or secondary, and would be the most wonderful gift for any student of history whatever their age.
And don't forget Peter has offered us (for free) his Many Voices project, over 1.5 million words of "a biased collection of firsthand, secondhand and bystander accounts of events in Australia's history" that he is continuing to collect for us. Is there a better friend of teacher librarians?
Barbara Braxton

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