A Little History of the Australian Labor Party

Frank Bongiorno, Nick Dyrenfurth
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Acclaimed historians Nick Dyrenfurth and Frank Bongiorno tell the story of the Australian Labor Party’s rich history of more than 130 years and examine its central role in modern Australia.

The Australian Labor Party is one of the oldest labour parties in the world and the first to form a government. From the prime ministerships of Watson and Fisher to the tragedies of Hughes and Scullin, through the 1940s legends Curtin and Chifley to governments of Whitlam, Hawke, Keating, Rudd and Gillard, A Little History of the Australian Labor Party recounts times of triumph and failure, as well as resilience.

This updated edition examines Labor’s recent performance in state and territory politics and takes the national story up to the Albanese government.

‘Informative and insightful, the authors shrewdly marshal the key events, policies and personalities in Labor’s long and lively history to tell the compelling story of the party that has shaped Australia more than any other. I enjoyed it immensely.’ — Troy Bramston

‘The history of Australia’s Labor Party is the story of how ordinary men and women dreamed, organised, argued and raged to form a political movement that has weathered wars, depressions, financial crises, bitter splits, rivalries and betrayals, and yet forged great alliances to shape this country into a good and safe place to live. The story of Labor is the story of a nation that was not born on a distant battlefield, but in the homes and workplaces, pubs and halls where people gathered to make the world better. This enthralling, questing book is not just great Labor history, it is great Australian history.’ — Janet McCalman

Contributor Bio

Nick Dyrenfurth is Executive Director of the social democratic think tank the John Curtin Research Centre. He is the author or editor of 12 books, including Getting the Blues: The future of Australian Labor, Mateship: A very Australian history, Heroes and Villains: The rise and fall of the early Australian Labor Party, The Write Stuff: Voices of unity on Labor’s future (co-edited with Misha Zelinsky), All That’s Left: What Labor should stand for (co-edited with Tim Soutphommasane) and Confusion: The making of the Australian two-party system (co-edited with Paul Strangio). Nick is a leading media commentator and Adjunct Research Fellow in the School of Historical Studies at Monash University, where he received his PhD and lectured for several years. He was a postdoctoral research fellow in the School of Work and Organisational Studies at the University of Sydney and secretary of the Australian Society for the Study of Labour History. Nick has also worked as a Labor Party adviser and speechwriter and secretary of the ALP’s National Policy Forum.

Frank Bongiorno is Professor of History at the Australian National University and Distinguished Fellow of the Whitlam Institute, Western Sydney University. He has written widely on Australian politics and especially the Australian Labor Party. His books include The Sex Lives of Australians: A history and The Eighties: The decade that transformed Australia, which both won ACT Book of the Year. His Dreamers and Schemers: A political history of Australia also won ACT Book of the Year and the Australian Political Studies Association’s Henry Mayer Book Prize. Frank recently collaborated in an updated edition of the late Mungo MacCallum’s The Good, the Bad and the Unlikely: Australia’s Prime Ministers: From Barton to Albanese and he is a regular contributor to media on Australian history and politics. He is President of the Australian Historical Association and the Council for the Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences, and a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia and the Australian Academy of Humanities.

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