Convincing ground is a wide-ranging, personal and powerful work which resonates with historical and contemporary Australian debates about identity, dispossession, memory and community.
Pascoe ranges across the national contemporary political stage, critiquing the great Australian silence when it comes to dealing respectfully with the construction of the nation’s Indigenous past.
Forget the history wars. Pascoe has written a book for all Australians. He believes early colonial behaviour on Gunditchmurra lands, near Portland, Victoria, shaped us then and shapes us still — physically and intellectually. Through a close, critical examination of the major historical works and witness accounts, Pascoe draws uncanny parallels between the techniques, language and results of the invasion to contemporary times.
For Pascoe, the Australian character was not forged at Gallipoli, Eureka and the back of Bourke, but in the more satanic furnace of Murdering Flat, Convincing Ground and Werribee. He knows we can’t reverse the past, but we can bring our soul in from the fog of delusion. He proposes a way forward, beyond shady intellectual argument and immature nationalism: strengths intact; weaknesses acknowledged and addressed.
Bruce Pascoe is a widely published and award-winning writer, editor and anthologist. With Lyn Harwood, he edited and published Australian Short Stories for sixteen years. He is currently compiling a dictionary of the Wathaurong language.
Reviews and endorsements
'The author’s greatest strength is his construction of a narrative comparing contemporary Australian politics, culture and identity with the formative years of contact histories.'
— Steve Kinnane
'This beautifully written book, with its fierce determination to recognise and right the wrongs of history, is essential reading for anyone who wants to understand where Aboriginal people are coming from. Some passages may unduly perturb university-trained historians like myself, or mightily disturb the general reader. That is partly the author’s intention. But it is sometimes a good thing to have one’s ideas so shaken up that one is forced to rethink them.'
— Paul Burns, Reviews in Australian Studies, Vol. 2, No. 7, 2007
'It gives its reader the rare chance to understand hundreds of years of harm and a million longings...Here the sense of place is real and convincing as well as refreshingly penned. It feels that the creator of this healing work of gorgeous words in several languages no longer languishes between Heaven and Hell, but as a Wathaurong man is the first poet of his people.'
— Barry Dickins, Overland 189, Summer 2007
'History depends on who writes it and the writing of it creates that history. On that basis, much of the history of this country is still missing. Bruce Pascoe has gone some way to correcting this...This book should be compulsory reading for all teachers and should be on the syllabus of all schools.'
— Daan Spijer, Thinking Allowed, 16 November 2009