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The Captive Republic: A History of Republicanism in Australia 1788-1996 (Studies in Australian History) Paperback – January 28, 1998

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Editorial Reviews


"McKenna's book is essential reading for students of the comparative history of republicanism who wish to understand how little can hide under a noble concept." Alastair Davidson, American Historical Review

"This is an excellent book. While it is essential reading for anyone who wishes to know the context of the current debate over republicanism in Australia, the book raises much broader issues about the development of self-government, political independence and national identity in settler societies. The book is written in a lively and informative style and combines wide historical knowledge with the ability to marshal information to illustrate specific themes and ideas. McKenna has produced one of the best things to have come out of Australia's current debate over republicanism." Campbell Sharman, Pacific Affairs

Book Description

This first comprehensive history of republican thought and activity in Australia traces debate around an Australian republic from 1788 to the present. It explains the pivotal role played by republican philosophies, both before and after federation, and illustrates the striking similarities between the arguments of both republicans and monarchists in the 1990s and those which existed 150 years ago. Essential reading for all those with an interest in political and intellectual history. It fills a large gap in Australian history and will become the essential work on Australian republicanism.

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Product Details

  • Series: Studies in Australian History
  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press (January 28, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521576180
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521576185
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #7,654,683 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By W Boudville HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on September 20, 2008
Format: Paperback
In this fascinating account, we see that Australian republicanism keep recurring. Brought forth by new generations of activists. Often with grandiose claims of a promised land, if only we could rid ourselves of those benighted royalists and their foreign sovereign.

From the very inception of Sydney colony, there was a republican movement. Perhaps not unsurprising, if you recall that one reason for the colony's being was that Britain could no longer send convicts to the Carolinas, as the US had won its independence. Hence many in the early Sydney of convict origin or descent had little love of royal rule.

In later years, the book shows how other factors caused new republican movements to arise. Culminating in the recent kerfuffle about abolishing the Governor General's post and replacing him with an elected or appointed president. While republicanism has broad sentiment, it tends to fall apart on the details of the transitioning to a republic. Something that John Howard gleefully exploited to defeat the latest republican push. Though keep in mind that this latest event was after the book's timeframe.

What is also interesting is how in the post World War 2 period, waves of migrants arrived from outside Britain. This diminishing of a British cultural heritage might have been expected to drive a demand for a republic. Yet any such trend appears minimal, from book's discussion. Australians from other backgrounds tend to be content with the Crown and the current arrangement.
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