The History Wars

Recommendation: It’s interesting, but it’s fairly niche – there are shorter papers available if you just want an overview of the issues

Where to read: Nowhere near Quadrant readers

Read with: Goon sack and do a layback every time someone says something racist or denies that Indigenous people were massacred by white settlers – you’ll be drunk pretty quickly but you’ll want to be at point

In brief: On the whole, Macintyre and Clark are fairly restrained about the whole business. It’s fair to say, however, that they are less than kind about Windschuttle and Howard.

I know I’ve tagged this as history but it’s more historiography. Providing an analysis of the long contest over Australian history, particularly indigenous history, it charts the work of the major players (Manning Clark and Geoffrey Blainey), the general contours of the debate and has a mad go at Howard.

Contrary to some of the criticism leveled at this since its publication, it nails its intellectual colours to the mast fairly early on in the proceedings. Let’s be honest, historians who get Chief Justice Mason (aka the man who presided over Mabo) to write the Forward and Paul Keating to launch the thing aren’t fucking around. Suffice to say that Windschuttle, the Libs, Quadrant and the Institute of Public Affairs cop quite a serve.

For Macintyre’s rough take on the story, check out this article from The Sydney Papers. To see what all the drama is with Windschuttle, throw a glance at his contribution here (hint, it’s largely that he questions pretty much everything from the Stolen Generation to the murder and massacre of Indigenous people based on evidence at least as shaky as his perfidious and intellectually dishonest opposition).

As a final note, please don’t take my less than enthusiastic recommendation as an excuse to avoid the subject – all Australians should have a working knowledge of the battle lines because this war is ongoing. The “Change the date” campaign and Morrison government’s typically myopic/moronic decision to send the Endeavor replica on a tour of Australia are proof of that.

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