"This book is our alternative history.
"What sort of self-doubt leaves Australians so late in the twentieth century swearing oaths to an institution on the other side of the world?
"With empathy for Australians of former generations, whether Monarchist or Republican, Tom Keneally argues that earlier in this century there were cogent - if deluded - reasons for Australians to retain the Monarchy. No such reasons exist anymore, and the tide of history has left Monarchists abandoned on their own continually eroding ground.
"Part personal memoir, part call to arms, Our Republic covers the experience of this passionate Australian from a naively Republican childhood through the Forties to the present. It is also a memoir of the Australian soul since 1788. The unacknowledged spirit of Australia's independence was always present, if only as a ghost, at the banquet of Australia's loyalty to the British Crown.
"We encounter the xenophobic Republicanism of the 1890s, the conservatism of those who opposed Federation, and the intrusion of the British government in the making of the Federal Constitution. Neither Britons nor Australians, argues Tom Keneally, saw Australia's Constitution as the birth certificate of a sovereign nation.
"An account of both a personal and national quest, Our Republic is a blueprint for Australia's future."
This is an account of
(1) Things experienced in a Republican lifetime;
(2) Things discovered which make up a sort of Republican history of Australia, and which turn a lot of the normal propositions about Australia and its long passion for the Monarchy on their heads.
Much has been forgotten, many glib statements have been made about earlier Australians, how they felt about Australia and the Empire, and what their motives were. My account tries not to take anyone glibly, not even the shrinking cohorts of modern Australian Monarchists.
Part of this history is what has befallen me in the past two years of my life as a writer and as chair of the Australian Republican Movement. I claim no special significance for ARM, although I think we had the good fortune to speak at the right time and shape the debate - before any significant politician had spoken - in the direction of an inevitable Republic.
This is above all just a tale, that's all, an ordinary pilgrimage.
Its bias is - without apology - that the Republic is not a side issue for resolution at some future, happier date. The Republic is part of the mechanism of our national deliverance.
If that idea offends you, you won't like this book.
From the William Heinemann Australia hardback edition, 1993.
This page and its contents are copyright © 1998-2001 by Perry Middlemiss, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.Return to Thomas Keneally page.
Last modified: March 26, 2001.