24th - 26th August 2018
Power, Politics, Passion

Frank Bongiorno

Frank Bongiorno is professor of history at the Australian National University and author of the award-winning The Sex Lives of Australians. He has written for the Monthly, the Australian and Inside Story.


Canberra Writers Festival events

The Past Isn't Past

The past is a foreign country and writers of all kinds have been our guides and interpreters. Ranging from fact to fiction, primary sources to satire, award-winning historian Frank Bongiorno, International fiction bestseller Tracy Chevalier and tongue-in-cheek yarn-spinner David Hunt will tell us how they approach the past – as inspiration, lost story or just a good laugh.

Saturday 26th August 2017, 10.45am. Visions Theatre, National Museum of Australia.
Tickets: Adult $24.00; Concession $21.95; Junior $11.75


True Blue & Shades of Grey

While Australia is proudly proclaiming its status as a globalised economy and a social melting pot, our “traditional” ideas about national identity as an extension of sporting achievement, military heroism and our labour and cultural history are frequently called into question.

Sunday 27th August 2017, 11.30am. Members Dining Room 2, Museum of Australian Democracy at Old Parliament House.
Tickets: Adult $24.00; Concession $21.95; Junior $11.75


About the book

It was perhaps the most controversial decade in Australian history, with high-flying entrepreneurs booming and busting, torrid debates over land rights and immigration, the advent of AIDS, a harsh recession and the rise of the New Right.

It was a time when Australians fought for social change – on union picket lines, at rallies for women’s rights and against nuclear weapons, and as part of a new environmental movement.

And then there were the events that left many scratching their heads: Joh for Canberra . . . the Australia Card . . . Cliff Young.

In The Eighties, Frank Bongiorno brings all this and more to life. He uncovers forgotten stories – of factory workers proud of their skills who found themselves surplus to requirements; of Vietnamese families battling to make new lives for themselves in the suburbs. He sheds new light on ‘both the ordinary and extraordinary things that happened to Australia and Australians during this liveliest of decades'.

The Eighties is contemporary history at its best.

The Eighties: The Decade That Transformed Australia is published by Black Inc.

Buy this book from the festival's bookshop partner Dymocks.


More reading

Lessons from history in how to run a good election campaign - or how to avoid a really bad one, The Conversation, May 2016.

The Eighties review: Frank Bongiorno's dance through a decade of characters, The Sydney Morning Herald, November 2015.

Frank Bongiorno: revisiting 1980s Australia, Conversations with Richard Fidler, ABC, November 2015. [podcast]




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