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Laurie Herganhan pays tribute to Brian Kiernan's pioneering work in the field of Australian literary studies, particularly Kiernan's contributions to the Australian Authors series (through the volume on Henry Lawson) and to Australian Literary Studies.
'International men (and occasionally women) of mystery permeate the dreaming about and discover of the country we now call Australia and its early development as a series of colonies of Britain. Indeed, since the European maritime explorations into the southern hemisphere in the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries to the early twenty-first century, men and women in the shadows of history have spied in the service of a variety of masters and mistresses as they sought to find the fabled South Land in order to exploit what wealth or advantage it might yield ... a recognition of some of these secrets and mysteries and the political imbroglios from which they grew are important for twenty-first century Australians who see themselves being drawn into other imperial ambitions or terrorist plots.' (p.17)