Coast is a beautifully presented and engagingly written book that should appeal to a wide reading public. Tracing the history of human relations with the NSW coastline from Aboriginal archaeological sites to European settlement and impact, the visual material ranges from early paintings and maps to written sources. This book makes an important addition to an expanding genre.
Based on sound research, eclectic aspects of the coastline’s history are explored, including the impact of colonisation, industry and war — and the very Australian theme of the summer beach holiday. Contemporary conservation issues, such as the impact of sand-mining and marine parks, are raised. The book provides an interesting perspective when so much Australian history has focussed on the Australian interior.
Coast is a handsome and masterful book that will engage a broad readership. To make sense of such a big topic, Ian Hoskins provides a thematic history spanning several disciplines and does this convincingly. Personal stories are carefully interwoven throughout, and the book turns the reader towards the sea, highlighting the way regional histories intersect with trans-national ones. A clearer and easier path for Hoskins would have been to write an industrial history of the coast, or an environmental history or a cultural history; instead, Hoskins has written an impressive history of the important but often overlooked littoral zones of New South Wales — the coast.