The prize is awarded annually to “the book judged to be the most distinguished contribution to the history of Australia or New Zealand or to the history of colonisation published in the previous year”.
This is a wonderful achievement as evidenced by the judges’ comments below. Well done Jamie!
Chair, Department of History
James Dunk, Bedlam at Botany Bay, New South, 2019
It’s the history of New South Wales, but not as we know it. The names are familiar, as are the events – Macarthurs, Wentworths, Blaxland, Bligh, rebellion, inquiries, select committees – but by paying close attention to the ‘strong personalities’, ‘eccentricities’ and ‘unfortunate endings’, Dunk puts us in the mirror house, where all that was familiar now feels strange and illuminating of quite a different colony. This is more than a collective biography, a history of whitefella madness, or the bureaucratic and jurisdictional journey to self-government. Dunk’s book reminds us that there is nothing inevitable about how things turn out: this is a rare feat in history-writing.