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Across the Seas


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In this eloquent and informative book, historian Klaus Neumann examines both government policy and public attitudes towards refugees and asylum seekers since Federation. He places the Australian story in the context of global refugee movements, and international responses to them.

About the Author

Klaus Neumann is a historian based at Swinburne University's Institute for Social Research. His 2006 book In the Interest of National Security won the John and Patricia Ward History Prize, while his Refuge Australia- Australia's Humanitarian Record (2004) won the Australian Human Rights Commission's 2004 Human Rights Award for Non-Fiction.


'Klaus Neumann has written a humane, engrossing book imbued with the awareness that in telling the history of Australia, one tells the story of immigration. Immigrants - always resisted, always blasted by invective and ever essential to our society and polity - show us ourselves through the heroic journeys of ancestors, the recurrent frenzies of resistance, right up to our present parlous state as the most supposedly tolerant intolerant society on earth. But if you think you've read all this before, you should know Neumann has brought to this book a novelty of approach, a freshness of perception, that means all the others have been mere preparation.' --Tom Keneally

'... I worked my way through Neumann's wealth of archival research, watching as he placed piece together with piece, teased out the hidden innuendo and the often unhidden prejudice that has formed a symmetry of hope and shame for a hundred years.' --Sydney Review of Books

'Neumann avoids the constantly changing arguments of the modern debate and, instead, offers a well-informed and insightful history of Australia's immigration policies during the 20th century ... An important book.' --Herald Sun

'Across the Seas' is an impressive and insightful work. Its fastidious research and calmly crafted scholarship makes it an important contribution to a crucial contemporary debate.' --Ames News

'A riveting book, vast in scope and timely.' --Arnold Zable

'Across the Seas' strongest point is a lack of dudgeon. Rather than condemn or mock historical players with thunderous prose and stylistic eye-rolling, Neumann plays it cool ... Neumann gives us a mature and measured consideration of an issue that will never cease to be complex.' --Saturday Paper

'Across the Seas is a call to remember, to rethink, and regenerate. And to overcome our culture of forgetting ... it's a fine and vital book - a work of highly accessible and gripping historical scholarship, which must be read by as many people in this country, and abroad, as possible.' --David Manne

'Across the Seas is most impressive: judicious, sane, insightful and well researched. It is also an extremely important contribution to an understanding of the contemporary debate over what is to my mind the disgraceful treatment of asylum seekers.' --Andrew Riemer

'Across the Seas is essential reading at a time when poisonous rhetoric in the asylum-seeker debate, on the margins of Australia's generous "orderly" intake of refugees, is muddying our past.' --Weekend Australian

'Across the Seas is a useful addition to the [refugee] movement's armoury. We need to use it to make a very different kind of history.' --Solidarity

'This book give us a sturdy historical context for a debate that continues to engulf Australia. Neumann demolishes old misconceptions and shows us there's nothing new when it comes to the refugee debate. He's sharp, brilliant, well informed.' --the Age

'Neumann crafts a complex history of discontinuities and congruities between the past and present. Across the Seas manages to tie together many threads in what is a complicated and fraught history.' --Labour History

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