Friday, January 25, 2013

Featured eBooks: Australian culture and history

The biggest estate on earth: How Aborigines made Australia. Across Australia, early Europeans commented again and again that the land looked like a park. With extensive grassy patches and pathways, open woodlands and abundant wildlife, it evoked a country estate in England. Bill Gammage has discovered this was because Aboriginal people managed the land in a far more systematic and scientific fashion than we have ever realised. For over a decade, Gammage has examined written and visual records of the Australian landscape. He has uncovered an extraordinarily complex system of land management using fire and the life cycles of native plants to ensure plentiful wildlife and plant foods throughout the year.

Destination Australia: Migration to Australia since 1901. In 1901 most Australians were loyal, white subjects of the British Empire with direct connections to Britain. Within a hundred years, following an unparalleled immigration program, its population was one of the most diverse on earth. No other country has achieved such radical social and demographic change in so short a time. This book tells the story of this extraordinary transformation. Against the odds, this change has caused minimal social disruption and tension. While immigration has generated some political and social anxieties, Australia has maintained a stable democracy and a coherent social fabric. One of the impressive achievements of the book is in explaining why this might be so.
Larrikins: A history. Australia has often been said to possess a “larrikin streak,” from the Stiffy and Mo cartoons and the true-blue Crocodile Hunter to the characters in the silent film The Sentimental Bloke. When it first emerged around 1870, larrikin was a term of abuse, used to describe teenage, working-class hell-raisers who populated dance halls and cheap theaters, and this account journeys through the street-based youth subculture known as larrikinism between 1870 and 1920, swerving through the streets of Brisbane, Melbourne, and Sydney. Offering a glimpse into the lives of Australia’s first larrikins—and discussing bare-knuckle fighting, football-barracking, and knicker-flashing teenage girls—it charts the development of Australia’s larrikinism and presents fascinating historical perspectives on current youth issues, including gang violence, racist riots, and raunchy culture among adolescent girls.

The little book of Australia: A snapshot of who we are. We are what we eat, watch, buy, read, love, play... It's been a long step in a short time from meat pies, football, kangaroos and Holden cars to iPods, lattes, iPods, climate change and MasterChef. David Dale chronicles how it happened in this definitive reference book about the carefree country. Instead of boasting about what makes Australia great, this book explains what makes us unique - for better and for worse. Here is everything you need to know about the anthropology of the Australian tribe. Common and uncommon knowledge about the myths, attitudes, jokes and journeys that make us Aussies, it's a treasure trove for any visitor - and for all 22,140,000 of us.

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