Having read a couple of pieces by the author in Australian newspapers, I was very curious to see how he'd come across in a more extensive work. I certainly wasn't disappointed. The author captures succinctly the difficulties that Australian left/liberals have had with patriotism over the years, despite making the running on some of the most profound nation-building issues to affect Australia - macroeconomic reform, multiculturalism, aboriginal rights, the republic, and climate change. Each of these issues are covered in turn, interspersed with analysis of early (and in some cases, enduring) defining features of Australian patriotism, such as the Anzac legend, and the White Australia Policy. The light and the dark places of Australia's history are deftly presented, through the prism of patriotism, and patriotism emerges much the better for it - with the author quoting the 19th century US senator, Carl Schurz to good affect: "My country, right or wrong: if right, to be kept right; if wrong, to be set right". Soutphommasane offers a persuasive thesis that left/liberals cannot, and should not, leave the field to conservatives when it comes to patriotism and, moreover, that Australia needs progressive patriotism if its citizens are to fully realise their individual and social potential in the 21st century.
Like Tim Soutphommasane, I've spent the last few years studying and working in the UK, far from my Australian birthplace, and so I was especially pleased to find that someone like this had taken the time and effort to commit to paper their thoughts on what Australia could, and should, look like in the post-conservative government era. Nation-building is a key, and oft used term in Australian political discourse at the moment, making Soutphommasane's book a timely, valuable and critically constructive contribution to this discourse. In sum, it appears that expatriotism has helped to inspire a truly patriotic text.