McGregor offers a holistic interpretation of the complex relationship between Indigenous and settler Australians during the middle four decades of the twentieth century. Combining the perspectives of political, social and cultural history in a coherent narrative, he provides a cogent analysis of how the relationship changed, and the impediments to change.
McGregor’s focus is on the quest for Aboriginal inclusion in the Australia nation; a task which dominated the Aboriginal agenda at the time. He challenges existing scholarship and assumptions, particularly around assimilation. In doing so he provides an understanding of why assimilation once held the approval of many reformers, including Indigenous activists.
He reveals that the inclusion of Aboriginal people in the Australian nation was not a function of political lobbying and parliamentary decision making. Rather, it depended at least as much on Aboriginal people’s public profile, and the way their demonstrated abilities partially wore down the apathy and indifference of settler Australians.
Winner of the 2012 NSW Premier’s Prize for Australian History Shortlisted for the 2012 Prime Minister's Literary Award Prize for Australian History