'White sets himself a most ambitious task, and he goes remarkably far to achieving his goals. Very few books tell so much about Australia, with elegance and concision, as does his' - Professor Michael Roe
'Stimulating and informative. an antidote to the cultural cringe' - Canberra Times
'To be Australian': what can that mean? Inventing Australia sets out to find the answers by tracing the images we have used to describe our land and our people - the convict hell, the workingman's paradise, the Bush legend, the 'typical' Australian from the shearer to the Bondi lifesaver, the land of opportunity, the small rich industrial country, the multicultural society.
The book argues that these images, rather than describing an especially Australian reality, grow out of assumptions about nature, race, class, democracy, sex and empire, and are 'invented' to serve the interests of particular groups.
There have been many books about Australia's national identity; this is the first to place the discussion within an historical context to explain how Australians' views of themselves change and why these views change in the way they do.
Table of Contents
1. Terra Australis Incognita
2. Hell upon earth
3. A workingman's paradise?
4. Another America
5. The national type
6. Bohemians and the bush
7. Young, white, happy and wholesome
8. Diggers and heroes
9. Growing up
10. Everyman and his Holden
Richard White is a young historian with a particular interest in the development of a distinctive Australian culture. He has written on the 'Australian way of life' and on 'Americanisation' and popular culture.