Thirty: The Lucky Country

Introduction

The head office in London had said the book I had written about Australia wasn’t the kind of thing Australians wanted to read. But it’s 40 years ago this month since Penguin Australia decided it would go ahead and publish it anyway. We decided to call the book The Lucky Country and, three months later, its first print (of 18,000) sold out in nine days. Its new angles had caught the mood of a growing market of educated readers looking for more relevant ways of seeing a changed Australia. It provoked immediate discussion — sharpening, sorting out new things to think about (and was to be voted by Herald readers as one of 20th-century Australia’s most influential books). It became a publishing phenomenon, and a household phrase. But the 1960s was itself a phenomenal decade. It was the decade of a public opening out of new ways of seeing Australia, all of them still with us, that offered the greatest renovation of perceptions Australians had known. One can’t understand contemporary Australia without going back to the Australian ‘60s and comparing then with now.

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