THE RIBBON AND THE RAGGED SQUARE: An Australian Journey by Linda Christmas


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A thoughtful survey of the Aussies--Where they came from? What they do? Where they're going? Exuberant, energetic and likable, they are not without serious problems as they try to become a leading Pacific power. The author spent 9 months digging the diggers and combines a sensitive portrayal with a solid analysis of their history and political life. She has talked to a wide range of people from fishermen to politicians, right-wingers to socialists, and draws a far more complex picture than the stereotypes of the brave and desperate pioneers, prison ships, exotic animals, enigmatic Aborigines and the untamed beauty of the land. It's not that these pictures weren't true or complimentary--they simply weren't enough. It is a tribute to the author's thoroughness that she captures Australia's realities. Much is attractive and ebullient. Sure, it's the land of the three-day weekend, endless beaches and frank, down-to-earth people. But its problems are real and pressing. Unemployment is one, immigration policy is another. Though the nation is no longer panicked by the yellow peril fears, its ethnic and racial composition remains a ticklish issue. Yet a nation that loves and encourages its painters, and where everyone seems to be a closet artist, cannot be all bad. Most Australians live in a ribbon of green around the edge of a land shaped like a ragged square, hence the title. Christmas has sought many out and has written about them with understanding and sympathy. Astute and lively this book will help the reader fathom what's up down under.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1986
Publisher: Viking