This text is long established as a standard introduction to the development of modern Australian society. It begins with the centuries of Aboriginal habitation before the coming of the Europeans, and takes us through to the present. However, unusually, it is strongly weighted towards the twentieth century. It is arranged chronologically and a broad "political" narrative emerges, but the book is not a chronicle, still less a laborious detailing of governors and governments; rather, it focuses throughout on the transmission of values, beliefs and customs amongst the diverse mix of peoples who are today's Australians.
For this welcome Second Edition, John Rickard has completely revised his text and added an entirely new chapter on the contemporary scene, which surveys the dramatic cultural shifts in Australian society as it approaches the centenary of Federation in the year 2001. The entire book has been reset and redesigned in a larger, more handsome format, and has numerous new illustrations.