What are the qualities at the heart of Australian culture? How did they arise? What distinguishes us from other nations beyond a fondness for calling each other ‘mate’? And what do such national quirks reveal about our society, our past and our attitudes towards it?
Looking for Australia is a fascinating collection of essays by historian John Hirst. Together they form a multi-faceted portrait of Australia as a distinctive nation, with its own political culture, character and style, and particular ways of seeing itself.
Among other subjects, Hirst considers the effects of convict origins on national character, what drove the bushrangers to their daring deeds, and why Australia has compulsory voting. He examines whether Aborigines played a part in the origins of Australian Rules football, and asks whether Curtin was indeed our greatest prime minister. He discusses how best to tell Australia’s history, and, after reflecting on our past as a British dependency, makes a stirring case for a future, fully independent republic.
‘Hirst’s genius and sincerity shine through, and his easy prose combined with his unorthodox views make for compelling reading.’ —Canberra Times
‘He brings a critical, discerning eye to all aspects of Australian history … incisive and compelling’ —Courier Mail
‘A powerful controversialist … a brilliant historian’ —Australian Book Review
‘Exceptionally subtle and meticulous’ —Sydney Morning Herald
‘Highly recommended’ —Bookseller+Publisher
‘This is a brilliant book.’ —Mercury