Marilyn Lake’s Progressive New World: How Settler Colonialism and Transpacific Exchange Shaped American Reform is a very impressive and accessible academic history that makes an important argument for Australasia and its significance as a precedent and exemplar for American progressives. As Lake shows, settler-colonialism and its racialised vision of citizen democracy was essential to the transnational progressive movement. On both sides of the Pacific, reformers sought to protect the rights and improve the living standards of the self-governing workers and their families, while simultaneously relying on the seizure of indigenous land and the exclusion of non-white immigrants.
Focusing on a series of key transnational figures, including Charles Henry Pearson, Catherine Spence and Theodore Roosevelt, Lake elegantly weaves their stories into a larger narrative of inclusion and exclusion which underlies contemporary liberal democracy. The fruit of decades of research, Progressive New World is a rare example of a book that will engage readers and scholars alike.