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Democratic Adventurer: Graham Berry and the Making of Australian Politics

Sean Scalmer

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Monash University Publishing
01 May 2020
Biography; Biography: historical, political & military; Australasian & Pacific history; Economics
Graham Berry (1822-1904) was colonial Australia's most gifted, creative and controversial politician. A riveting speaker, a newspaper proprietor and editor, and the founder of Australia's first mass political party, he wielded these tools to launch an age of reform: spearheading the adoption of a 'protectionist' economic policy, the payment of parliamentarians, and the taxing of large landowners. He also sought the reform of the Constitution, precipitating a crisis that the London Times likened to a 'revolution'.

This book recovers Berry's forgotten and fascinating life. It explores his drives and aspirations, the scandals and defeats that nearly derailed his career, and his remarkable rise from linen-draper and grocer to adored popular leader. It establishes his formative influence on later Australian politics. And it also uses Berry's life to reflect on the possibilities and constraints of democractic politics, hoping thereby to enrich the contemporary political imagination.

'Democratic Adventurer is a valuable contribution to our knowledge of Berry and deftly demonstrates how the democratic battles of a nineteenth-century colony shaped a twentieth-century nation...

If Scalmer's admiration for his subject occasionally shines through, it is not to the detriment of this excellent book. This is a historian at the top of his game. Democratic Adventurer will be required reading for those who study colonial Australia, but its clear focus, accessible style, and the excitement of the tale will attract a popular audience also.' - Australian Book Review
By:   Sean Scalmer
Imprint:   Monash University Publishing
Country of Publication:   Australia
Dimensions:   Height: 234mm,  Width: 153mm, 
ISBN:   9781925835779
ISBN 10:   1925835774
Pages:   480
Publication Date:   01 May 2020
Audience:   General/trade ,  ELT Advanced
Format:   Hardback
Publisher's Status:   Active

Sean Scalmer teaches at the University of Melbourne, where he is a Professor of History. He is the author of several works of political history, including the prize-winning On the Stump (2017), Gandhi in the West (2011), The Little History of Australian Unionism (2006) and Dissent Events (2002).

Reviews for Democratic Adventurer: Graham Berry and the Making of Australian Politics

With his close attention to the repertoire of colonial politics, the language and rituals whereby statesmen gained and wielded power, Sean Scalmer has illuminated the history of settler democracy. Here he tackles that most audacious of all the democratic adventurers, David Berry, a self-made man who acquired an almost despotic authority on the condition, as he remarked, that I did not exercise it. But Berry used his popular following to plunge Victoria into its most profound constitutional crisis, and this book establishes his lasting legacy. -- Stuart Macintyre


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