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The new edition of Judith Brett's award-winning book, providing compelling insight into Menzies and his era.

'Menzies' political self was constructed around a denial of experience and an imagined England filled the void. So too for the people and the country he led…'

In 1941, RG Menzies delivered to war-time Australia what was to be his richest, most creative speech, and one of his most influential. 'The Forgotten People' was a direct address to the Australian middle class, the 'people' who would return him to power in 1949 and keep him there until his retirement in 1966.

Who were these 'forgotten people'? The middle class pitting their values of hard work and independence against the collectivist ethos of labour? Women shunning the class-based politics of men? The parents of Menzies' childhood in the small country town of Jeparit? Australians struggling to maintain a derivative culture at the edges of the British Empire? Or all of them, in a richly over-determined image that takes us to the heart of Menzies' mid-life political transformation?

Judith Brett deftly traces the links between the private and public meanings of Menzies' political language to produce compelling insights into the man and the culture he represented.

Formats & editions

  • Trade Paperback


    July 1, 2007

    Melbourne University Press

    RRP $45.00

    Online retailers

    • Abbey's Bookshop
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    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.org.au

  • EBook


    April 8, 2014

    Melbourne University Press Digital

    Online retailers

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Also by Judith Brett

The Enigmatic Mr Deakin
Fair Share: Country and City in Australia: Quarterly Essay 42
Exit Right: The Unravelling of John Howard: Quarterly Essay 28
Relaxed & Comfortable: The Liberal Party's Australia: Quarterly Essay 19


The Republic
Lights Out
From Despair to Hope
Asia's Cauldron
Moral Clarity
The Master Strategist
Terrorism And Justice
The Road To 1945
Partner To Power
A Citizen's Guide To Impeachment
The Truth Matters
End Of Discussion
Black And Blue
The Israeli Solution
The Unholy Trinity
What We Do Now
Listen, Yankee!
Flyover Nation
If You Can Keep It