The Secret Story

by Bob Birrell

ISBN 1 875989 79 X


Publication date: January 2001


The story of Federation has been muddied by the influence of the republican movement. As a result, many people today think that Federation was only a half-hearted, and half-successful, attempt to break our links with Britain.

Bob Birrell's book explodes this myth. He shows that Federation was the result of an enormous popular movement based on intensely nationalistic feelings about what it meant to be an Australian. The story he tells is of the highly successful formation of a new, politically and culturally distinct nation.

To prove his case, Birrell looks at what was actually said and done by leaders such as Alfred Deakin and organisations such as the Australian Natives Association. He examines the sorts of laws that were passed by the new federal government in the early 1900s. His book is a deliberate and important attempt to destroy the myth of Australian dependency on Britain, which has dominated historical writing here since the 1980s.

'This is a book to make scholars look again at the history of Federation, and to let citizens discover that there was a lot more to it than they learned at school.' Ken Inglis

'Bob Birrell has done more than the historians to reveal why Australians formed a Commonwealth and why we should respect its first achievements.' John Hirst



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