Contents indexed selectively.
'Alfred Deakin, thrice prime minister in the first Commonwealth decade, was unusually gifted and complex — indeed, enigmatic. Earlier analysts have presented multiple facets of this intriguing figure. Walter Murdoch’s “sketch” (1923) captured Deakin’s charismatic appeal, but not the mixed reactions of his contemporaries; John La Nauze produced a meticulous account of the federal political career (1965), but skimmed Deakin’s formative period in colonial politics and ignored the challenges of his inner life and religion; Al Gabay gave us some grasp of the “mystic” Deakin’s religious and spiritual dimensions (1992); and John Rickard provided an engaging interpretation of the “family romance” from which this cosseted prodigy emerged (1996). ' (Introduction)
'There can be no doubt about the centrality of C.E.W. Bean to Australia’s commemoration and understanding of the First World War experience. Bean, the official war correspondent, sent back numerous despatches from Gallipoli and France, often from very close to the front lines. He edited The Anzac Book published in 1916, was a driving force behind the creation of the Australian War Records Section and the Australian War Memorial, and oversaw and wrote much of the twelve-volume official history. Whether he “effectively created” the Anzac legend — as Peter Stanley suggests — is perhaps contestable, but he did give it much of its literary and monumental shape. ' (Introduction)
'Geoffrey Bolton was one of Australia’s greatest historians and writing books about the lives of historians can be a tricky business. I have a colleague who likes to try to rank the top historians in Australia. We have argued over where Bolton would fit in the list. I have always said that he ranks in the first five. He was productive over several decades and covered diverse topics from the British Empire to the Perth street in which he grew up. He did not have a niche and was also peripatetic, working in many places, a true historian for all seasons. How then would one design a book to commemorate his life without creating an exaggerated eulogy to a great historian? ' (Introduction)