Blog Archives

Revisiting the 1930s, Tony Simpson

The Broken Decade: Prosperity, Depression and Recovery in New Zealand 1928–1939
Malcolm McKinnon
Otago University Press, $50.00,
ISBN 9781927322260

In 1968, I left my home town of Christchurch and came to Wellington to work as a producer in radio in what was then the NZBC. I mostly spent the next three years writing and producing talks and historical radio documentaries. One thing that struck me as curious in retrospect was that, although I had spent six years at Canterbury University studying history (among other things), no-one had ever mentioned the 1930s Depression or WWII. It was only when I began talking to older New Zealanders that these two sets of events came into focus as the principal markers by which they measured the significance of their own lives. I therefore began collecting both written and oral recollections of the 1930s (mostly the latter); in 1974, these were published as The Sugarbag Years. I then waited for someone to follow my lead and publish a narrative history of the same events which placed the lives I had recorded in their economic and political context, but no-one did and so I did it myself, as The Slump in 1990. This second book made little impact, the world moved on, and those with personal experience of the 1930s have now almost all passed away.

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With the Second Division, Tony Simpson

A Bloody Road Home: World War Two and New Zealand’s Heroic Second Division Christopher Pugsley Penguin, $70.00 ISBN 9780143571896 It might seem strange that we have had to wait seven decades from the conclusion of WWII for a comprehensive history

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Putting the Treaty in a discursive context, Jim McAloon

Before Hobson
Tony Simpson
Blythswood Press, $38.00,
ISBN 9780473312848

Tony Simpson has been writing history for a general, rather than academic, readership for a long time and to good effect. His aim in this book is to situate the Treaty of Waitangi in a long-run context. Most studies of the Treaty deal with the first four decades of the 19th century as a prelude, to be got through as quickly as possible; conversely, many studies of New Zealand in the Tasman/Pacific context after 1769 or 1788 have the Treaty as a postscript. Simpson explores the period in considerable, and sometimes discursive, detail and his perspective is welcome.

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War means stories, David Hill

Ambiguity and Innocence: The New Zealand Division and the Occupation of Trieste, May 1945  Tony Simpson Silver Owl Press, $35.00, ISBN 9780986451980 The Battles of Monte Cassino: The Campaign and its Consequences Glyn Harper and John Tonkin-Covell Allen and Unwin,

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Gentleman’s agreement, Tony Simpson

Other People’s Wars: New Zealand in Afghanistan, Iraq and the War on Terror Nicky Hager  Craig Potton Publishing, $45.00, ISBN 9781877517693 About a year ago, shortly after this book was published, I heard Nicky Hager in an interview deploring the

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Coming here, Tony Simpson

No Simple Passage  Jenny Robin Jones Random House, $45.00, ISBN 9781869795108   We are all increasingly fascinated by our origins. And as recollection turns into memory and then into family anecdote, we go looking for these origins in documentation. This,

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Like granny used to, Tony Simpson

New Zealand Food and Cookery   David Burton David Bateman, $59.99, ISBN 9781860537289 Over the last two or three years it has been almost impossible to turn on the television in the early evening or to go into a bookshop

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English spoken here, Tony Simpson

Replenishing the Earth: The Settler Revolution and Rise of the Anglo World 1783-1939 James Belich Oxford University Press, $50.00, ISBN 9780199297276 In an interview with The New Zealand Listener shortly after this book was published, the author posed an interesting

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Less English than the English, Tony Simpson

Settlers: New Zealand Immigrants From England, Ireland and Scotland 1800 to 1945  Jock Phillips and Terry Hearn  Auckland University Press, $39.99,  ISBN 9781869404017  Over the next few years, our official historians have announced, they will concentrate attention on our immigrant

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