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The Original Australians: Stories of the Aboriginal People [Paperback]

Josephine Flood
3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

1 Aug 2006
This fascinating and intelligent volume tells the remarkable story of Australian Aboriginal history from its distant beginnings in the age of Dreamtime, through the first contact with Europeans and other outsiders, right up to the present day. "The Original Australians" offers stunning insights into the life and experiences of one of the world's oldest cultures. This volume also looks at some of the most commonly asked questions, such as where did the Aboriginal people come from? And how did they survive in such a harsh environment? As well as debunking common myths. It also attempts to look at Aboriginal history and culture from both black and white perspectives, in order to better understand its place in today's global society.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Allen & Unwin (1 Aug 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1741148723
  • ISBN-13: 978-1741148725
  • Product Dimensions: 24.1 x 17 x 2.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,059,960 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Review

'...an intriguing and accessible history for anyone, from overseas visitors to Australians...'Sydney Morning Herald

About the Author

Josephine Flood is a prominent archaeologist, and recipient of the prestigious Centenary Medal from the Australian Heritage Commission. She is also the author of several books on the subject of Australian archaeology and history.

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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars not what I hoped for 19 Dec 2009
By D&D TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
Because the author is an archeologist and has worked closely with Aborigines, I hoped this book - in view of the title - would be about their origins, the Dreamtime myths, and their culture. This is the oldest still-living ancient culture (at least 60,000 years, it is now believed) and must have fascinating information to offer all of us. Traditional Aboriginal law, for instance, is an amazingly complex oral culture, rich in history and symbolism. Yet, because of the deliberate simplicity of their few tools and their choice not to settle in one place nor to develop metals, pottery or agriculture, these peoples were called primitive!

While there is a chapter (30 pages) on "origins: the last 50,000 years" and another (40 pages) on "tradition: indigenous life at first contact", the remaining 200 pages are about the last four hundred years, since Europeans discovered Australia and started to settle there.

The author explains that she asked many people, both in Australia and outside it, what questions they had about the Aborigines, and set out to write a book that would answer them. It is a neutral and well-researched account of known good and bad (mainly bad, unfortunately) accounts of the insults and injuries perpetrated on both sides since first contact. If this is your main interest, then the book should have 5 stars. For me, only 70 pages are of interest, so I have given the book 3 stars.

I guess I will need to wait for a book by an anthropologist in order to learn more about the Aborigines before European settlement. In the meantime, "Aboriginal Mythology" and "Aboriginal Dreaming" have supplied the strongest taste of these most ancient ways. They each offer a flavour of the many fascinating elements of Aboriginal culture: the song circles and stories, artefacts, landmarks, characters and customs. Also, "Australian Myths" shares some of their dreamtime stories and has great illustrations.
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Amazon.com: 3.7 out of 5 stars  11 reviews
18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars All You Ever Wanted to Know ... And More! 17 Jun 2008
By Philip W. Mclarty - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I bought this book to learn more about the primal religious practices of the Aboriginal people. I got more than I bargained for. What I found was a comprehensive study of "The Original Australians," from their migration to the continent 40,000-50,000 years ago, to the present.

Flood's work is thorough, analytical, well-researched and unbiased. She obviously loves the indigenous people of whom she writes, yet she does not patronize them or romanticize their history or their plight.

Neither does she condemn the English, who first colonized "New Holland," or the Australian government, who enacted laws that forever changed the course of Aboriginal life.

Flood proves to be both a scholar, who honestly reports the facts, and a compassionate human, who cares deeply for the objects of her research.

I recommend this book highly. Where other books on Aboriginals tend to be anecdotal in nature, Flood's book is meaty, yet digestible; objective, yet heartfelt. It'll stimulate your mind and touch your heart.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Title and content do not reconcile 5 May 2012
By Raymond - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
First I have to confess that I might have been too careless when I decided to buy this book.

The book is described as the story of the Aboriginal people. But what actually is in the book seems more like a modern history of European aggression against the Aboriginal people from the European perspective.

There are two chapters (out of eight) devoted to the Aboriginal traditions and culture. However, the descriptions are so superficial that even Wikipedia can easily beat it.

If you are looking for a book describing how life was like in precolonial Australia and their myths and culture, this is NOT the right book.
15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars superbly honest account 30 April 2007
By westwind - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Ms Flood has set herself the challenge of avoiding the political diktat of our times and trying to give an honest and thorough account of what aboriginal culture and life was like at the time of first contact with whites and following. my own interest is to look at a 50,000 year old culture - the oldest on earth - as the human roots of us all, and learn more about the basics of being human. it should come as no surprise to any sensible and honest person, that the picture is one of violence, mistreatment of all who are physically weaker, especially women. there is also a harsh lesson on the fruits of supernatural belief insisting on no change, no innovation, no learning, no progress. isolation and stasis bear terrible fruits.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Mostly excellent, with some reservations 6 April 2012
By Makana Risser Chai - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I was leery about this book after reading the one-star review and comments about it being revisionist. However, it was free at the local library so I decided to give it a go. Most of the book is an excellent introduction to Aboriginal people, including chapters on their origins, traditions and culture. In every chapter, it seems if there is any dispute among researchers, the author presents the various views, the facts supporting those views, and ultimately takes a position one way or the other. Perhaps her acceptance of a particular view on genetics or archaeology might be questionable to a few academics, but for a general audience her positions seem to be reasonable.

The criticism of the book as revisionist comes into some areas that are more controversial, such as the reports of white massacres of Aboriginal people, the equal pay law, and the story of the stolen generation. As in the scientific chapters, the author presents various points of view, and then takes a position. She presents facts to support her point of view that massacres did happen, but not as many as claimed, and Aboriginal people killed white people too. She outlines facts to show that the equal pay law hurt the people because the pastoralists could no longer afford to keep them on and they were forced on to the dole. And though she reports that children were stolen from their parents, with horrible results, she also reports that many of those children grew up to be healthy happy adults who looked back on their schooling as a very good time.

Maybe all of those conclusions are true. But the feeling that came over me was that she was beyond objective -- she was aloof and distant from the pain. I imagine it would be heart-wrenching for many Aboriginal people to read parts of this book. They could well feel their experience was being denied.

I was also rather shocked that the last chapter, "Resilience," which I expected to cover contemporary art, music, and so on, was virtually mute on those topics. Instead, it repeated many of the grim socio-economic statistics already given, rather than presenting information about the revival and expansion of cultural traditions.

All in all, I'm glad I read the book as I did get some good information from it and can follow the footnotes to other sources. But there is much more to be learned, especially from Aboriginal authors. I do recommend Yorro Yorro: Aboriginal Creation and the Renewal of Nature. This author mentioned Born under the Paperbark Tree: A Man's Life and Moon and Rainbow: Autobiography of an Aboriginal neither of which I've read yet.
4.0 out of 5 stars A springboard to more reading 3 Aug 2014
By Edward J. Kanze - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Josephine Flood's "The Original Australians" isn't the only book you'll want to read about Australia's Aboriginal peoples, but it's an earnest effort by a scientist whose work is grounded in the archeological record and in firsthand observations in the field. Flood attempts to steer a middle course between two extreme campss: those who would simplifiy and ultimately patronize the original Australians by portraying them as a saintly raise of ecologists (see Tim Flannery's excellent "The Future Eaters" for a corrective about notions that the Aborigines, or any other race of human beings for that matter, ever lived in blissful harmony with nature), and those who would dismiss them as a crude, cruel, technologically backward race of savages. At times it seems Flood works a bit too hard to convince the reader that European-descended Australians weren't as cruel to their predecessors on the continent as has often been portrayed in recent decades, yet to her credit, she is careful to round up an honest range of viewpoints and treats them all with respect. This is a calm book, perhaps too calm at times. The author neither romanticizes her subjects (as in "Mutant Message Down Under" and other works in its vein) nor demonizes them. Still, there's much to be learned from it. Without question, the author has worked hard to present what she thinks is the middle ground on all things Aboriginal. After reading it I find myself hungry to read more about Australia and its first peoples.
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