BOOK REVIEW: Nicholas Clements’ Black War (Review by Justin Cahill)

the-black-warIn 1976, Manning Clark famously asked “are we a nation of bastards ?” He was writing about Whitlam’s dismissal. But Clark’s real targets were the “heart dimmers”, the reactionary conservatives who he believed had brought down a man of vision.

Similar elements continue to deny that European settlement here led to war with the Aborigines. Generally, historians have tip-toed around this aspect of our past. Reading their accounts you would think the local people had, after thousands of years living here, simply melted away. But they resisted and it’s time we acknowledged the wars that followed.

Other nations do not share this collective amnesia. In New Zealand, the European settlers’ breaches of the Treaty of Waitangi, made with the Māori in 1840, led to over twenty years of civil wars. Those wars have a firm place in New Zealand national history. There are monuments to the dead. Battlefields, such as Rangiriri pā, are protected historic sites. There are movies about the conflict, including Utu, released in 1983.

The frontier wars between the Indians and settlers in America’s west spawned a culture of their own, culminating in 1970 with the publication of Dee Brown’s Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee.

But, to paraphrase the historian James Belich, while kids play cowboys and Indians, who plays convicts and Aborigines ? There is has been acknowledgement of such a conflict, the ‘Black War’, in Tasmania. It provided the background for a movie, Manganinnie, released in 1980.

Yet recent accounts of our frontier wars have been marred by sloppy extrapolations of casualty figures from primary sources or by simply ignoring Aboriginal evidence. But how much evidence do we need ? The Tasmanians endured for about 30,000 years then, co-incidentally, were reduced to several hundred within 30 years of European settlement. Are we just too gutless to confront past wrongs ?

Clements

Nicholas Clements

If not, we had better steel ourselves. Clements is open about his political leanings and the limitations of his sources. But the contemporary reports he has found show the Tasmanian government, despite humanitarian protestations, planned to rid the colony of the local people, either by transporting them to island ghettoes or simple extermination. His accounts of their fight for survival are harrowing. Apart from detailing the massacres of poorly armed warriors, he provides vivid accounts of how the women and children were captured, used as sex slaves then often murdered.

Clements’ approach is unique that he gives equal space to the experiences of the settlers, soldiers, emancipists and convicts. He acknowledges they were “…victims of their circumstances …hatreds, frustrations, fears and sadnesses.” For example, most of the convicts transported to Tasmania were not professional criminals, but just working class men who fell on hard times. Shipped to the other side of the world and brutalised by the penal regime, they were left with the bare shreds of humanity. Fear of attack from the local people stripped them of even that – reducing them to the level of broken, snarling dogs.

We pride ourselves that we live in a more civilised age. But Clark’s question remains unanswered. Are we to be a stagnant, introverted society living in denial ? Are we still a nation of bastards ? Clements shows we don’t have to be.

Grab a copy of Nicholas Clements’ Black War here


Justin Cahill is a Sydney-based naturalist and historian. His publications include a biography of the ornithologist Alfred North and A New Life in our History, a history of the European settlement of Australia and New Zealand told from the perspective of ordinary people. He has also written on Chinese history, including the negotiations surrounding Britain’s acquisition of Hong Kong and its decolonisation in 1997.

Justin’s most recent publication is the first part of Epitome for Eleanor: A Short History of the Known Universe, written for children. His current projects include a natural history of Sydney’s Wolli Creek Valley.

He regularly contributes reviews to Booktopia.


the-black-warThe Black War

Fear, Sex and Resistance in Tasmania

by Nicholas Clements

‘At its core, The Black War is a story about two peoples who just wanted to be free of each other . . . sooner or later Europeans and Aborigines were bound to clash, but it was Tasmania’s unique circumstances that turned this encounter into a ‘war of extermination’.’

Between 1825 and 1831 close to 200 Britons and 1000 Aborigines died violently in Tasmania’s Black War. It was by far the most intense frontier conflict in Australia’s history, yet many Australians know little about it. The Black War takes a unique approach to this historic event, looking chiefly at the experiences and attitudes of those who took part in the conflict. By contrasting the perspectives of colonists and Aborigines, Nicholas Clements takes a deeply human look at the events that led to the shocking violence and tragedy of the war, detailing raw personal accounts that shed light on the tribes, families and individuals involved as they struggled to survive in their turbulent world.

The Black War presents a compelling and challenging view of our early contact history, the legacy of which reverberates strongly to the present day.

About the Author

Dr Nicholas Clements is an honorary research associate in the School of Humanities at the University of Tasmania. Born in rural Tasmania in 1982, he now lives in Launceston. Nick is an avid rock climber and bushwalker, whose passion for Tasmania’s landscape and history inspired him to write The Black War.

Grab a copy of Nicholas Clements’ Black War here

The Biggest Loser’s Commando Steve puts Booktopia’s John Purcell through his paces

When Commando Steve came to Booktopia to chat about his new book Get Commando Fit, John explained why he can’t stay in shape.

But as John found out, with Commando, there are no excuses…

Grab your copy of Get Commando Fit here

get-commando-fitGet Commando Fit

by Steve Willis

If you want to look good and feel great, there are NO EXCUSES, you must Get Commando Fit – and Commando Steve is here to show you how!

Steve ‘Commando’ Willis put contestants through their paces as a trainer on Channel Ten’s top rating show Australia’s Biggest Loser. Let him do the same for you!

Steve believes that mental strength is the key to staying fit and leading a healthy, happy and low stress lifestyle and Get Commando Fit is where it all starts.

Whether you’re a desk jockey, a busy mum or managing a company, in these pages, Commando Steve provides you with the building blocks you need to kickstart you on your fitness journey – and gives you the motivation you need to keep going.

Combining fully illustrated functional exercises, a fitness program that will get you moving, and delicious, balanced recipes to fuel you to optimum health, this is the book you need to get into top shape.

There are no excuses, Get Commando Fit today!

Grab your copy of Get Commando Fit here

5 Things We Learnt From… KP: The Autobiography

kp1. He was crippled with self doubt

At least some of that swagger was for show. Pieterson writes about being a nervous wreck every time he waited to bat, claiming he (possible TMI alert) sometimes went to the toilet every five minutes while preparing to go in.

‘I’ve fought more with myself in my head then I have fought with any bowler,’ he writes. ‘I can be destroyed before I hit a single ball.’

2. He tried too hard to be English

In an effort to be accepted by England, Pieterson (who was born and raised in South Africa, moving to his mother’s birthplace to further his cricketing opportunities) says he ‘overplayed my Englishness’ at the start of his international career.

‘Getting the three lions tattoo and all that stuff. I tried too hard with all that shit’.

3. Some of the English cricket team were flat out bullies

Largely referring to his last tour of Australia, infamously resulting in only the third 5-0 whitewash in the history of The Ashes, Pieterson writes, ‘A clique choked our team… and Andy Flower let that clique grow like a bad weed.’

‘The dressing room slowly became the territory of the biggest mouths among the bowlers – and a wicketkeeper. They ran an exclusive club. If you’re outside that clique, you were fair game for mocking, ridicule, bullying.’

4. Some of his teammates set up a parody twitter account mocking Pieterson

Former England captain Alec Stewart was told by a source that a popular twitter account, @KPGenius, was set up with the help some several of Pieterson’s teammates, who would allegedly post tweets lampooning Pieterson. When Pieterson was told of the twitter account, he was devastated.

‘I was left feeling isolated and bullied, but nobody seemed too bothered as long as I did my performing-seal routine when I went out to bat.’

5. He didn’t think much of former England coach Andy Flower

Pieterson really lets fly at his former boss, referring to him as ‘contagiously sour’.

‘He could walk into a room and suck all the joy out of it in five seconds. Just a Mood Hoover. That’s how I came to think of him.’


kpKP: The Autobiography

by Kevin Pieterson

The long-awaited autobiography of England’s most colourful cricketer.

The fascinating life story of professional cricketer Kevin Pietersen, MBE, from his childhood in South Africa to his recent experiences as one of the leading lights in the world of international cricket. Kevin was dropped from the England squad in February of this year, seemingly calling time on an international career that began nearly ten years earlier.

The decision puzzled many observers – although the England team had failed miserably in the Ashes tour of 2013-14, Kevin was the tourists’ leading run scorer across the series, and he remains the country’s highest run scorer of all time across all formats of the game.

Kevin reveals all in his autobiography, telling the stories behind the many other highs and lows of his incredible career. Giving readers the full story of his life, from his childhood in South Africa to his recent experiences as one of the leading lights in the world of international cricket, this will be an autobiography that entertains and fascinates readers in equal measure.

Grab a copy of KP: The Autobiography here

Dijanna Mulhearn talks Wardrobe 101 for Mums with Booktopia’s John Purcell

Establishing your own style is one of the hardest things to achieve, even more so when you’ve trying to raise children. Have no fear, Dijanna Mulhearn is here!

Dijanna’s new book Wardrobe 101 for Mums is the follow up to her phenomenally successful Wardrobe 101. She chats with John Purcell in this exclusive interview.

Grab a copy of Wardrobe 101 for Mums here

wardrobe-101-for-mums-signed-copies-available-Wardrobe 101 for Mums

by Dijanna Mulhearn

Following on from Wardrobe 101: How to Create Your Perfect Core Wardrobe, fashion guru Dijanna Mulhearn is offering style advice to time-poor mothers.

Wardrobe 101 for Mums is a go-to guide for women who long to look good with little effort. Between juggling young children and navigating a post-pregnancy figure, dressing stylishly can be overwhelming; and the last thing on the minds of many new mothers.

Don’t be tempted by the tracksuit or resort to simple jeans and t-shirt when this book is chock full of tips that show you how to look fabulous in a flash. Dijanna Mulhearn has devised helpful tricks for looking chic regardless of body shape and there are tips to work a new wardrobe for any kid-friendly or strictly adult occasion. Learn from the world’s most stylish women, take what works for you and turn that hot mess into a hot mama!

About the Author

Dijanna Mulhearn has over 20 years experience in the fashion industry. From retail to events management, publicity at Harper’s BAZAAR magazine and managing public relations and advertising for international luxury label Prada, Dijanna knows fashion inside out. She created and wrote the long-running weekly column Wardrobe 101 in the Sydney Morning Herald and has regularly contributed to Grazia.

Grab a copy of Wardrobe 101 for Mums here

The year is about to end and so are these awesome competitions!

Wouldn’t it be great to start the New Year with your 2015 reading list sorted with a Leatherbound Classics library or your audiobooks sorted with a range from Bolinda, or with Dinner for 2 at Quay, The Rocks in Sydney or win a Kookaburra ball and mini bat signed by Glenn Maxwell?  Let’s not stop there, look at the world with new eyes with three books signed by Brian Cox or spend your summer with a handy North Face backpack.

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Order a Bolinda Audiobook by December 31st and you could win 1 of 8 signed Bolinda prize packs! The prize pack includes the following Audiobooks (all MP3 ready):

Cleanskin Cowgirls by Rachael Treasure, Loyal Creatures by Morris Gleitzman, The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton, Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty, The Fictional Woman by Tara Moss, Courting Trouble by Kathy Lette, Sapphire Skies by Belinda Alexandra, Quick by Steve Worland, The Road Back by Di Morrissey, South Of Darkness by John Marsden, The Great Zoo Of China by Matthew Reilly, The 52-Storey Treehouse by Andy Griffiths.

Terms and Conditions apply.


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Order a Leatherbound Classic by December 31st and go in the draw to win a Classics library!

Terms and Conditions apply.


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Order Organum by December 31st and go in the draw to win a Dinner for 2 at Peter Gilmore’s award-winning restaurant Quay, at The Rocks in Sydney, valued at $520! The Dinner includes a 4 course menu with wines to match and is valid until the end of 2015.

Please note: subject to reservation availability.

Flights and accommodation are not included.

Terms and Conditions apply.


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Buy any book in the Glenn Maxwell series by December 31st and go in the draw to win a Kookaburra ball and mini Kookaburra cricket bat signed by Glenn Maxwell!

Terms and Conditions apply.


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Order Human Universe by December 31st and go in the draw to win a signed prize pack!

Terms and Conditions apply.


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Order Walking Home by December 31st and go in the draw to win a North Face backpack!

Terms and Conditions apply.


We have plenty more prizes up for grabs! Check them out here.

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Wayne Swan, former Treasurer and author of The Good Fight, chats to John Purcell

Wayne Swan was the rock in one of the Labor Party’s most tumultuous periods in their history. He talks to John Purcell about his new political memoir The Good Fight.

The Good Fight

by Wayne Swan

A highly personal account of the Rudd and Gillard governments from the heart of the Cabinet and the real story of how Australia avoided the Great Recession from the man recognised as the best treasurer in the world.

This is Wayne Swan’s very personal account of an extraordinary period in Australian politics.

Despite the divisions within the Labor Party as the Rudd government fell into disunity and as Julia Gillard was undermined by disloyalty from within, Wayne Swan steered the Australian economy through a time of unprecedented international economic challenges.

He tells how he nurtured an economy that was the envy of the world, standing up to an opposition and a business elite who fought fiercely against Labor’s political agenda. In the face of bitter attacks by vested interests from the miners and banks, to the hotels and clubs industry and, of course, the media much important nation changing legislation was wrangled through the parliament.

This is a story that can only be told from the inside. It provides unique access to the decision making of a government whose legacy of economic management and social change is still to be fully recognised.

Click here to grab a copy of The Good Fight 

BOOK REVIEW: Deco Radio by Peter Sheridan (Review by Caroline Baum)

Peter Sheridan

Peter Sheridan

Peter Sheridan is a man possessed by a peculiar but persistent affection for bakelite – the world’s first synthetic plastic. To some, this material may appear unlovely and charmless, but to Sheridan it is the stuff of poetry. As a result, he has become one of the world’s foremost collectors of objects made from this versatile and resilient man-made resin.

A genial enthusiast, the curator of his own private museum, Sheridan is equally happy to share his passion with complete amateurs and connoisseurs alike. Ask casually about any of the three hundred radios displayed in his Sydney home and you will get their history, provenance, and a surprising anecdote that explains their shape, colour or origin. He is a competitive bidder, an astute buyer, always on the trail of a new acquisition and has some sound advice for aspiring collectors which he shares in the text that punctuates this sleek but hefty coffee table book.

Showcasing what he calls the most beautiful radios ever made, Sheridan has photographed them with loving care in close up, so that every feature is shown to best advantage. They have sexy curves, voluptuous bodies, and come in a wide range of colours – forget about bakelite brown, the greens and reds really pop. Shot against deep dramatic black they gleam on the page like jewels.

Their shapes reflect what was happening in industrial design, fashion and popular culture with style and humour. My favourite has a mantel (casing) that features the mesh silhouette of a woman’s head.

Sheridan’s lively text is a timely reminder of how central radio was to the lives of people around the world back in the early twentieth century ; how they were the source of pleasure , broadcasting live entertainment and music that people listened and danced to in their homes as well as including declarations of war that shaped the century and changed lives forever. The radio was the vehicle of coded messages and signals to allied troops and resistance fighters. Under the Nazi regime, being caught listening to the enemy was punishable by death.

Anyone with a nostalgic interest or enthusiasm for the glorious heyday of art deco and its sleek modernity will find this irresistible.


deco-radioDeco Radio

by Peter Sheridan

With 380 brilliant photos and engaging text, this book presents some 300 of the rarest and most beautiful radios ever made for home or workplace. The advent of the small, mantle or tabletop radio in 1930 gave a huge impetus to the spread of radio, not only allowing multiple sets in the home, but changing the listener from the family to the individual. This book highlights a small subset of tube (valve) radios that incorporated new styling, materials, and approaches to consumer marketing in the 1930s and 1940s. Until now they have been underrated by many radio enthusiasts, and largely unrecognized in the world of Art Deco and Industrial Design. The radios of 35 industrial designers, including the luminaries of streamlining in the USA and UK (Loewy, Bel Geddes, Teague, Van Doren, Vassos, Coates, and Chermayeff) are identified and examples from 15 countries are stunningly displayed.

About the Author

Peter Sheridan is a respected historian, lecturer, and author, with a collection of radios considered one of the world’s finest. His highly acclaimed book Radio Days–Australian Bakelite Radios (2008) is the standard reference for Australian radio collectors. A member of the Australian Institute of Professional Photographers, Peter’s photos are used by media, museums, and specialist publications.

 Click here to grab a copy of Deco Radio 

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