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Australians All is an outstanding history of Australia that captures the experiences of young people on this continent from the Ice Age to the Apology. Nadia Wheatley entwines her narrative with 80 judiciously chosen biographical snapshots that bring new insights to major events and themes in Australia history.
This lavishly and thoughtfully illustrated work engages and enthralls the reader with both its temporal grasp and its topic breadth. On one page the reader can be contemplating family life at Lake Mungo over 20,000 years ago and on another the life story of a young Afghani girl and her experience of escape to and re-settlement in Australia. With such a large sweep and a commitment to contextualise the individual stories against both national and international developments, Wheatley could be forgiven if there was a gap here or there in the calibre of the research and its presentation. The reader need have no such concerns. Willing to be both playful and confronting, depending on the content being presented, Australians All is a pleasure to read from cover to cover.
It is the originality and scope of Wheatley’s vision that sets Australians All apart. The book’s subject selection speaks to young people and gives them a voice in Australian history that is both a unique and outstanding achievement. In her endeavour, Wheatley is ably assisted by her long-time collaborator Ken Searle, whose artwork is pitch perfect alongside Wheatley’s words.