WE ARE THE REBELS | CLARE WRIGHT

Kernel Kate reviews an important book for . WE ARE THE REBELS by historian is being hailed for its thorough look into the role women played in Eureka. Wright’s previous book, THE FORGOTTEN REBELS OF EUREKA, is one of the most talked about books in recent Australian history and WE ARE THE REBELS is more of an abridged version of the same book with probably a target audience of students and younger generations. WE ARE THE REBELS is out now from the peeps at Text Publishing. It should be available from most bookstores or you can purchase it from HERE. Enjoy Kate’s review……all the best……JK.

 

we are rebels book cover image
WE ARE REBELS | CLARE WRIGHT | SALTY POPCORN | BOOK COVER IMAGE

 

BY

WE ARE THE REBELS from award winning historian Clare Wright brings us some of the forgotten stories of the men, women and children who left everything behind in their quest for gold and along the way made history in this newly abridged version of her Stella award winning THE FORGOTTEN REBELS OF EUREKA.

The story of the and the events surrounding it is one which is part of Australian history and legend but Wright fairly accurately sums up my experience when she says in her introduction “This was the way I learned about the when I was in high school: a bunch of soldiers in red coats with gold buttons fought against a bunch of miners in blue shirts with cabbage-tree hats. The diggers staged an uprising because they didn’t want to pay the unfair license tax” and in the end all white Australian men got the right to vote. It may just be that I wasn’t paying close enough attention in history class but Wright’s WE ARE THE REBELS goes to show there was far more to it than this.

Taking us through the history of the people of Eureka rather than just the events themselves lends this history far more character than you may remember from textbooks and while Wright has written extensively on the topic in her other works this volume is perhaps the most accessible making it perfect for teenagers or readers, like myself, who are interested in learning more about this period of Australian history without being too weighed down in detail. Wright’s use of source material focusing on people, mostly women, whose stories, diaries and writings can take us through the entire journey from immigration to rebellion allows readers to connect with these characters in a way that isn’t often found in history books.

 

we are rebels book cover image
WE ARE REBELS | CLARE WRIGHT | SALTY POPCORN BOOK REVIEW | AUTHOR IMAGE PHOTO CREDIT: VIRGINIA CUMMINS

 

In tracing the entire journey of settlers and prospectors who followed the gold rush from their perilous sea journey, arrival in the camp, living conditions and community feeling we also get a great sense of the political and cultural landscape in Australia at the time as well as in the goldfields. Touching on politics, medicine, taxation, religion and personal histories the text is littered with additional text boxes providing us with additional details and background information without drawing away from the main text.

Focusing largely on women also gives us an often overlooked insight into the lives and status of women in Australian society at this point in time throughout the country. Looking at letters and diaries as well as news articles and public records lets us into the domestic lives, thoughts and feelings of these women many of whom were running business, politics, communities and homes in the goldfields, well and truly dispelling the long held belief “all the participants were men, of course. That went without saying.” which history has handed down to us.

Wright’s extensive research on the topic is evident throughout, she tells readers “it took me ten years to do this historical detective work” and throughout the text not only are there extended passages quoted from primary sources but almost every paragraph contains italicised quotations supporting its point whether just a few words or a whole sentence. This lends the work an air of authority throughout and left me with a feeling I was getting the story straight from the goldfields despite being removed by over 150 years.

Without a doubt the historical legacy of the Eureka Stockade is one which will never be forgotten but thanks in large part to the work of Clare Wright the stories of the women who almost were can stay with us.

 

4 Pops

 

Having always loved stories one of Kernel Kate’s most frequent childhood memories was her parents telling her in the early hours that it was way too late to still be reading and to go to sleep, but she would always sneak in the end of the chapter. Her love of stories led to a career in movies as well as remaining an avid reader of everything from novels to academic papers and junk mail. She makes a perfect reading machine fit to the Salty Cob.