Monash University Publishing: Advancing knowledge

Geoffrey Blainey

Writer, Historian, Controversialist

By Richard Allsop


Geoffrey Blainey is often described as Australia’s ‘greatest living historian’, a writer whose prolific output includes such iconic books about the country’s past as The Tyranny of Distance and Triumph of the Nomads.

However, Blainey has also been a controversial figure. His 1984 comments about Asian immigration triggered a major political controversy. In turn, the reaction of his critics raised fundamental questions about freedom of speech and set the scene for the ‘history wars’ fought out in Australia over the past three decades.

Many academic historians were amongst Blainey’s critics. After 1984, Blainey became stereotyped as a ‘conservative historian’ and thus outside the bounds of academic history, yet much of Blainey’s historical writing, both in method and outlook, has been far from conservative.

Geoffrey Blainey: Writer, Historian, Controversialist challenges simplistic descriptions of Blainey’s work. It sheds an important light not just on Blainey’s career, but also on the past and present practice of history in Australia.

About the Author

Richard Allsop was previously an adviser in state and federal politics and currently works for a government-relations firm. He has written extensively on Australian history and politics and co-authored two football history books.

Media Inquiries

For media inquiries, please contact our Marketing Coordinator, Sarah Cannon.