Book Notes

Members of the Labour History Society have been wielding their pens to good effect of late. John Merritt’s The Making of the AWU has just been published by Oxford University Press at the steepish price of $35.00. John will be known to many members as the long serving editor of Labour History; his devotion to the journal and the Society has meant he has put his broader scholarly interests on the back burner. This book, however, will establish what many have known for a long time – he is a first rate scholar. The book is far more than a blow by blow account of the institutional history of the ‘grand old union’ – it incorporates, for instance, a valuable account of the general economic setting of the pastoral industry 1860-1911 and the labour process of shearing in its opening chapters. More than everything you have ever wanted to know about yolk boils is on p.62.

Another of Eric Fry’s judiciously edited collections, Common Cause: Essays on Australian and New Zealand Labour History appears at the somewhat less breathtaking price of $12.95 from the Allen & Unwin stable. Contributors include Eric 01ssen on the Red Federation of Labour, 1909-1913 and Ellen McEwen on Newcastle coalminers.

Audrey Johnson’s biography of Bill Morrow, Fly a Rebel Flag, is a valuable account of a rare avis, a socialist within the ALP. While it larks the sophistication of Macintyre on Paddy Troy it has some splendid pieces on important issue like railway unionism in the early 1900s. which not even the SRA’s high priced historian could afford to ignore.