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Telling the Truth About Aboriginal History by Bain Attwood

$45.00 inc. GST

One of Australia’s leading Aboriginal historians takes us to the heart of the ‘history war’ over our Aboriginal past. Bain Attwood argues that controversy over interpretations of our Aboriginal past has never been so intense, and never mattered more.

Once upon a time historical controversies were debated among a small circle of academic historians. Today they are the subject of intense ‘history wars’ fought out in parliament, court rooms, museums, newspapers, cafes and blog sites.

‘Lucid, restrained, persuasive. If there is such a thing as the history wars, then Bain Attwood has struck a major blow for the peace process. Telling the Truth About Aboriginal History is unflinchingly fair, scholarly, and refreshingly accessible.’

Hugh Mackay, social researcher and author

‘Genuinely good Australian history is under serious attack and Attwood’s book is a brilliant battlefield analysis.’

Alan Atkinson, Australian Research Council Professorial Fellow

‘Hard-hitting but always thoughtful, Bain Attwood’s rich, informed, and powerful book. has much to say about the centrality of history and memory to debates on the future of social justice in democratic societies.’

Professor Dipesh Chakrabarty, University of Chicago



Bain Attwood takes us to the heart of the conflict about the Aboriginal past in Australia. He tracks the growing popularity of history and weighs the consequences for the nature of historical knowledge and the authority of the historian. He asks why and how Aboriginal history has become central to Australian politics, culture and identity. He examines the work of historical ‘revisionists’ and tests their promise of historical truth. Finally, Attwood ponders how the traumatic history of frontier conflict might better be remembered – and mourned – and why telling the truth about history matters for the nation and for all of us.

Bain Attwood is Associate Professor of history at Monash University and a professorial fellow at the Centre for Cross-Cultural Research at the Australian National University. A leading authority on Aboriginal history, he is the author of numerous books including The Making of the Aborigines (Allen + Unwin 1989) and Rights for Aborigines (Allen + Unwin 2003).

Published by Allen & Unwin, 2005. 264 pages, Softback