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The editors of this book boldly proclaim that Eureka is Australia’s ‘greatest story’, and they have gathered together some of our country’s finest historians to prosecute the case. Collectively, they compile a strong argument.
In the late 19th century that acute American observer, Mark Twain, called the Ballarat rebellion ‘the finest thing in Australasian history’ and, like all such milestone moments in any country’s expanding tale, Eureka challenges because of the sheer number of interpretations that have been imposed upon it, both before Twain and after.
During the sesquicentenary year of Eureka, 2004, one journalist rightly observed that Eureka ‘is not so much history as many versions of history’. The question of who ‘owns’ the Eureka story is destined never to be answered, but one thing is certain: the superb Charter of Bakery Hill, an irresistible sequence of goldfield events leading to tragedy, a cast of characters drawn straight from a classic novel, violence and murder on an early Sabbath morning in December 1854, and a never-ending aftermath that arguably has had more energy within it in the 20th and 21st centuries than it had in the 19th – these extraordinary elements of a grand narrative will forever stimulate the Australian imagination.
Eureka: Australia’s Greatest Story is certain to stoke the fires.