Masters, Chris: Years that made us

Masters, Chris

The Years That Made Us, ABC Video, 2013 (shown on ABC TV, June-July 2013)

In Australian mythology nationhood was forged in the slaughter of Gallipoli in 1915. But in The Years That Made Us Chris Masters introduces a very different proposition. Far from bringing the nation together, the First World War tore the country apart and threatened to destroy the Federation Dream. The Great Depression wrecked a struggling recovery and just when light appeared on the horizon the gates of hell reopened with the Second World War. (blurb)

While it hardly seems to me that the Great War drew Australians together, in the Great Depression, while the edges frayed, the middle held. This country of extremes, with its annual floods and fires, somehow generates a spirit of restraint. If we care to look, we see common decency every day… generosity and consideration… Australian history can also overlook this low volume murmur of public moderation; it can fail to detect the quiet pulse of civilisation. (Masters, ep. 2)

The march to battle in our past does not make us a militarist people… The period we’ve looked at sees Australia framed by war, the proud military reputation born of the first and second wars can overshadow the story in between, of people tough and fair, of measured, moderate sensible citizens who did more than survive. I think they did recover the dream, not of a new Britannia, a second United States or a gumtree utopia. In that middling way, they built something much better. (Masters, ep. 3)

The author discusses the program here and here and a synopsis is here

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