Private Lives, Public History explores how the conversations of ‘ordinary Australians’ intersect with broader discussions about Australia’s history. Author Anna Clark seeks to uncover how Australians respond to public narratives, like Australia Day and Anzac Day, and why these stories matter to individuals and communities.
Snapshots from conversations Clark conducted with 100 people across five community groups, are woven throughout this book, along with her own thoughts and evidence from other historians’ research. The voices from participants, as they share their opinions and personal histories, echo conversations many would have with friends or family. The familiarity of these discussions encourages the reader to reflect on their own personal histories and how they relate to Australian history. Private Lives, Public History is an incredibly easy and insightful read, as Clark asks us to consider our national story and successfully uncovers the meaning of Australian history for Australians. It becomes clear that history plays a significant role in our lives. It exists in the places we visit, our traditions, celebrations and commemorations, and indeed through the stories we are told and the stories we continue to tell.
Anna Clark is an Australian Research Council Fellow and Co-Director of the Australian Centre for Public History at UTS. In 2003, Clark and Stuart Mcintyre wrote The History Wars which was awarded the NSW Premier’s Prize for Australian History and the Queensland Premier’s Prize for Best Literary or Media Work Advancing Public Debate.