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The past is consumed on a grand scale: popularised by television programs, enjoyed by reading groups, walking groups, historical societies and heritage tours, and supported by unprecedented digital access to archival records. Yet our history has also become the subject of heated political debate.

In Private Lives, Public History, historian Anna Clark explores how our personal pasts intersect with broader historical questions. Drawing on interviews with Australians from five communities around the country, she uncovers how we think about the past in the context of our local and intimate stories, and the role that history plays in our lives.


Anna Clark is the Alain de Botton of Australian historiography

Clare Wright

Intelligent and refreshing—a compelling inquiry into the conversations Australians have about history.

Tom Griffiths

The intersections between private and public remain fraught. The professional historian conducting archival research is detached from the keen amateur investigating a genealogical website.

Phillip Deery, Professor of History at Victoria University, Sydney Morning Herald

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Formats & editions

  • Paperback


    February 1, 2016

    Melbourne University Press

    192 pages

    RRP $27.99

    Online retailers

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    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.org.au

  • EBook


    February 1, 2016

    Melbourne University Press Digital

    183 pages

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Also by Anna Clark

Anna Mae’s Mac N Cheese
Teaching The Nation
The History Wars


Heroes of Hamel
Down Under
The Songlines
The Bat
Guns, Germs And Steel
The Making of Martin Sparrow
Our Australian Girl: The Pearlie Stories
Are We There Yet?
The Fatal Shore
A History Of Australia (Volumes 1 & 2)
From the Edge
Hitler's First Victims
The Rise and Fall of Australia
A Secret Country
New Jerusalem
Two Old Men Dying
Histories of Controversy