Honest History E-newsletter No. 45, 25 July 2017

ISSN: 2202-5561 ©

The Honest History Book: now into its second printing

New on the Honest History website

The generations of us: exploring interactions, overlaps and inflections: Michael Piggott reviews Australian Lives: an Intimate History, edited by Anisa Puri and Alistair Thomson – and notes They Cannot Take the Sky: Stories from Detention, edited by Michael Green and André Dao

Rewriting the history of Gallipoli: a Turkish perspective from Professor Ayhan Aktar, National Library fellow from Istanbul Bilgi University: from ‘Turkification’ to ‘Islamisation’; are the Turks taking Gallipoli back?

Les Jauncey, radical Australian historian and person of interest to the FBI – but why was the Bureau so nosy? Steve Flora and David Stephens work through a heavily redacted file from the 1940s and 1950s

Honest History’s Alternative Guide to the Australian War Memorial asks many questions the Memorial avoids: extracts from the 2nd edition (the 1st edition was downloaded 2000 times)

Canada’s ‘Vimyism’ is very much like Australia’s ‘Anzackery’: David Stephens reviews The Vimy Trap Or, How We Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Great War, by Ian McKay and Jamie Swift

Ashton’s Hotel: John Shield reviews Rhondda Harris’s edition of the journal of William Baker Ashton, first governor of the Adelaide Gaol – and wants to hug the man

‘Hoot, splutter, screech!’ The Woman Voter‘s Rosetta Flynn assesses the engines of politics in 1917

Recently on the Honest History website

Centenary Watch

War Memorial big wig has National Press Club big gig. Long Spoon Department. Worthwhile work continues. Sail away. Elsewhere.


Weeping sky. ‘You in Canada … cannot realize at all what war is like. You must see it and live it. You must see the barren deserts war has made of once fertile country … see the turned up graves, see the dead on the field, freakishly mutilated – headless, legless, stomachless, a perfect body and a passive face and a broken, empty skull – see your own countrymen, unidentified, thrown into a cart, their coats over them, boys digging a grave in a land of yellow green slimy mud and green pools of water under a weeping sky.’ Letter from a Canadian soldier, October 1918, quoted in CC Hill, The Group of Seven (1995)

So easy to forget. ‘We live in a period in which memory of all kinds, including the sort of larger memory we call history, is being called into question. For history as for the individual, forgetting can be just as convenient as remembering, and remembering what was once forgotten can be distinctly uncomfortable. As a rule, we tend to remember the awful things done to us, and to forget the awful things we did.’ Margaret Atwood, In Search of Alias Grace (1998)

Shallow end. ‘Donald Trump, champion and avatar of the shallow state, has won power because his supporters are threatened by what they don’t understand, and what they don’t understand is almost everything. Indeed, from evolution to data about our economy to the science of vaccines to the threats we face in the world, they reject vast subjects rooted in fact in order to have reality conform to their worldviews. They don’t dig for truth; they skim the media for anything that makes them feel better about themselves. To many of them, knowledge is not a useful tool but a cunning barrier elites have created to keep power from the average man and woman.’ David Rothkopf, ‘The shallow state’, Foreign Policy, 22 February 2017

Order please. ‘The appeal of Hansonism and further right groups such as the Australian Liberty Alliance, has grown because without a centrist alternative to reassure them, respond to their needs and to moderate their fears of change and difference, the ever-diminishing Anglo-Celtic working class feels ever more threatened. Many older and relatively less-educated voters believe they’ve been forgotten by the political class, and hanker for a time when life was simpler, more ordered and simply better, who wistfully remember standing for “God Save the Queen” at the end of the pictures.’ Terry Barnes, ‘The death of the sensible centre’, Meanjin, Winter 2017

Revolting masses. ‘I may be mistaken, but the present-day writer, when he takes his pen in hand to treat a subject which he has studied deeply, has to bear in mind that the average reader, who has never concerned himself with this subject, if he reads does so with the view, not of learning something from the writer, but rather, of pronouncing judgment on him when he is not in agreement with the commonplaces that the said reader carries in his head.’ José Ortega y Gasset, The Revolt of the Masses (1930) quoted in Tom Nichols, The Death of Expertise: The Campaign against Established Knowledge and Why it Matters (2017)

Bottom of the barrel. ‘If balanced people could no longer cop the [political] life, the profession would shrink back to representation by a very narrow type of personality – people who live for the brawls and the knockouts, and can’t function without the constant affirmation of being a public figure. We would end up with representation by ideologues, adrenalin junkies and preening show ponies, posturing for a media chorus as unhinged as the political class.’ Katharine Murphy, Guardian Australia, reporting a conversation with a senior member of the government, ‘The political life is no life at all’, Meanjin, Winter 2017

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