Australian History, Universal Issues and Priorities Shared in New Book

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Author Geoffrey Partington helps people understand the past in his newly published book, titled “Making Sense of History”.

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With the recent Boston Marathon bombings, America and the rest of the world are examining if people have really learned from history. New York Representative Peter King said of the recent terrorist strike, “The Boston Marathon bombing ‘is the fifth case’ in which U.S. government officials examined individuals potentially involved in terrorism ‘and felt they were no threat and they went on to carry out terrorist murders.’” Author Geoffrey Partington helps people learn from Australian history and universal issues in order to shape a better future through his newly published book titled Making Sense of History.

The book examines the difficult relationship between freedom and security and the problem of how far to tolerate the intolerant. It is not the illiterate or beggars who become terrorists by and large, but young people who have had a full secondary education and often university education as well. This ought to concern all who value the arts and humanities.

It proposes Five Priorities to help people select the more important rather than the less important when studying history. The Five Priorities are Livelihoods, Security from violence, Freedom(s), Relationships, and Ideas. Despite external constraints, human beings make choices rather than respond automatically to events. That is why history does not provide laws or lessons as physics or mathematics may do, but is best conceived as proverbial wisdom writ large.

“Knowledge of times before we were born is a gift, so far as we know, that only human beings possess and flourishes best in open societies in which there is a reasonable balance between freedom and security,” states Partington. That balance will never be perfect, but we can ensure that it is better rather than worse. “We should help everyone to understand the past better but strongly resist those who misuse it in classrooms and lecture theatres to pursue destructive ends.”

Partington’s book is relevant today because there has never been a time when better understanding was needed of different traditions and values, but also of threats to some of those most fully developed in western societies. Most of his readers will gain instruction and often amusement from his selection from the past, but many will also be disturbed by his exposure of history teaching that deepens prejudices and hatred rather than helping to reduce them. It is doubly disturbing that the main distortions are perpetrated, not in the schools, but in the universities that ought to be beacons of light rather than purveyors of distortion.

Through its proposals for priorities in the study of Australian and world history, together with telling examples, Making Sense of History shows that individuals make a difference and are not puppets of fate, economic forces or the gods, so that with extra knowledge and energy we may play a more effective part in protecting the heritage bequeathed to us by earlier generations.”

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About the Author

Geoffrey Partington was examiner in history for the Associated Examining Board and the East Anglican Examining Board. In 1976, his first major academic work Women Teachers in England and Wales in the Twentieth Century was published by the National Foundation for Educational Research, which also published in 1980 The Idea of a Historical Education. He married Dawn Carter, an Australian, and they emigrated to Australia with their two children. He taught for 19 years in the Flinders University of South Australia and then for two years in the University of the South Pacific in Fiji. In Australia, Geoffrey has written seven books, just under a hundred articles in refereed journals and chapters in scholarly books, as well as well over a hundred other articles. He was awarded Ph.D. in political sciences by University of Adelaide. He was selected to attend the 2006 History Summit in Canberra and to be a member of the Panel of Experts which in 2005 advised the Parliament of South Australia on possible reforms to that State’s Constitution. He has been a lead speaker at numerous national conferences and was commissioned to report on teacher education in Britain and New Zealand. Some of his works are listed in the appendix.

Making Sense of History * by Geoffrey Partington
Publication Date: July 20, 2013
Trade Paperback; AU$29.99; 325 pages; 978-1-4836-2919-3
Trade Hardback; AU$49.99; 325 pages; 978-1-4836-2920-9
Ebook; AU$3.99; 978-1-4836-2921-6

Members of the media who wish to review this book may request a complimentary paperback copy by contacting the publisher at 1-800-618-969. To purchase copies of the book for resale, please fax Xlibris at (02) 8088 6078 or call 1-800-618-969.

Xlibris books can be purchased at Xlibris bookstore. For more information, contact Xlibris at 1-800-618-969 or on the web at

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