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  • Published: 1 February 2022
  • ISBN: 9780143776963
  • Imprint: Penguin Random House Australia Audio
  • Format: Audio Download
  • Length: 9 hr 59 min
  • Narrator: Anna Clark
  • RRP: $27.99

Making Australian History




A bold and expansive history that traces the changing and contested project of Australia’s national story. You will think about this country differently after reading this book.

Australian history has been revised and reinterpreted by successive generations of historians, writers, governments and public commentators, yet there has been no account of the ways it has changed, who makes history, and how. Making Australian History responds to this critical gap in Australian historical research.

A few years ago Anna Clark saw a series of paintings on a sandstone cliff face in the Northern Territory. There were characteristic crosshatched images of fat barramundi and turtles, as well as sprayed handprints and several human figures with spears. Next to them was a long gun, painted with white ochre, an unmistakable image of the colonisers. Was this an Indigenous rendering of contact? A work of history?

Each piece of history has a message and context that depends on who wrote it and when. Australian history has swirled and contorted over the years: the history wars have embroiled historians, politicians and public commentators alike, while debates over historical fiction have been as divisive. History isn’t just about understanding what happened and why. It also reflects the persuasions, politics and prejudices of its authors. Each iteration of Australia’s national story reveals not only the past in question, but also the guiding concerns and perceptions of each generation of history makers.

Making Australian History is bold and inclusive: it catalogues and contextualises changing readings of the past, it examines the increasingly problematic role of historians as national storytellers, and it incorporates the stories of people.

  • Published: 1 February 2022
  • ISBN: 9780143776963
  • Imprint: Penguin Random House Australia Audio
  • Format: Audio Download
  • Length: 9 hr 59 min
  • Narrator: Anna Clark
  • RRP: $27.99

About the author

Anna Clark

ANNA CLARK is an award winning historian, author and public commentator. She has a PhD in History from the University of Melbourne and currently holds a prestigious Australian Research Council Future Fellowship at the Australian Centre for Public History at UTS. Anna is an internationally recognised scholar in Australian history, history education and the role of history in everyday life.

She has written influential books such as The History Wars (with Stuart Macintyre), which won the NSW Premier’s Prize and Queensland Premier’s Prize for History, History’s Children (about students’ attitudes to Australian history), and Private Lives, Public History, as well as two history books for children (Convicted!—listed as a Children’s Book Council of Australia notable book—and Explored!).

Praise for Making Australian History

Clark’s account of how Australian histories have been written – and why they were written as they were at the time they were – is lucid, sophisticated and utterly enthralling. From ‘blank slate’ to Deep Time, from the unimaginable and the unwritten to debates on compassion and imagination in history writing, Making Australian History offers the double thrill of reading the history of Australia and understanding, at the same time, why and how it was told, at different periods, as it was. To understand our history and the uses and blindnesses of histories told before opens up an understanding our many and varied selves, and those who have gone before us, to make Australian history. This book is an extraordinary achievement and a joy to read.

Anna Funder

In this brilliantly original book, Anna Clark tells the story of how Australian history has been created – not only by professional historians and authors but ordinary people using written word, sound, image and stone. By treating history-making as at once imaginative, scholarly and political, Clark invites us to consider who gains and who suffers when History has been the lens used to examine Australian experience. History is always contested – and this is the best ever account of what has been and still is at stake in this sometimes painful but always necessary business of rethinking Australian history.

Frank Bongiorno AM, Professor of History, Australian National University

One of a kind. Ambitious in scope, broad in its vision of history, and beautifully written. Like no other writer before her, Anna Clark has given us a compelling ‘life story’ of Australian history. With great insight and enviable clarity, she charts the making of Australian history over time and reveals the discipline’s cutting-edge concerns today. There is no better book for anyone interested in the origins and evolution of Australian history.

Mark McKenna

Piece by fascinating piece, Anna Clark builds a sturdy case for the fact that while the past is a time concept, history is a human construct. Through tender attention to archival detail and judicious interpretation of the politics of history, Clark lays waste to the colonial fallacy that there is one uncontested and incontrovertible account of Australia’s story. Elegant, erudite and timely, this book confirms Anna Clark as one of Australia’s most perceptive history-tellers and history-makers.

Clare Wright

Powerful, moving, clever. Anna Clarke’s erudite investigation into the making of Australian history understands the complex role of the discipline in creating a national narrative. Through her unique personal standpoint, she delivers an insightful and intuitive unravelling of dominant colonial narratives while she reweaves a more inclusive, hopeful approach to the telling of history and the role of historians.

Larissa Behrendt

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