Book Review: Dark Emu by Bruce Pascoe

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Dark Emu by Bruce Pascoe

My Review

“A truer history”

A truer history of Australian agriculture. Dark Emu by Bruce Pascoe should be essential reading for all Australians!

Pascoe argues that what we learned in school about what Aboriginal Australians were like before the First Fleet arrived in Australia is wrong. He presents robust evidence from early settler accounts and archaeological evidence which strongly suggest that many Aboriginal people all over Australia were engaging in farming, building, storing, irrigating, governing, and making activities that mean that they were not hunter-gatherers at all.

Pascoe also argues that evidence of pre-colonial Aboriginal societies and structure was deliberately erased by early settlers. I suspect this may be the case as history is always written by the victor!

I found the evidence in Dark Emu to be very well and modestly presented. Pascoe meticulously cites many diaries and original sources from early settler first hand accounts, including some accounts from very familiar names such as Charles Sturt and Thomas Mitchell.    These citations are all listed within the book and have been independently checked by Rick Morton for the Saturday Paper.

The evidence Pascoe has unearthed about the ways Aboriginal Australians managed the land through controlled fire burns and the way the soil was then compared to how it is now after more than 200 years of Western farming practices are more important than ever now. I am also very curious about the native plants that were used to make flour because they sound delicious and I suspect they might be beneficial for people with wheat or gluten intolerances.

I strongly urge all Australians to read Dark Emu. It will certainly make you think differently about things. It has made me think differently about what I was taught about colonial times and even more determined to be a better ally. I have also heard great things about Young Dark Emu, the adaptation of Dark Emu designed for children.

Synopsis

Dark Emu puts forward an argument for a reconsideration of the hunter-gatherer tag for precolonial Aboriginal Australians. The evidence insists that Aboriginal people right across the continent were using domesticated plants, sowing, harvesting, irrigating and storing – behaviours inconsistent with the hunter-gatherer tag. Gerritsen and Gammage in their latest books support this premise but Pascoe takes this further and challenges the hunter-gatherer tag as a convenient lie. Almost all the evidence comes from the records and diaries of the Australian explorers, impeccable sources

Details 

Author: Bruce Pascoe

Published: 2014 by Magabala Books

Source: Own Copy

Read: Paperback, 176 pages, January-February 2020

Goodreads

Amazon AU

Amazon US

Amazon UK

8 thoughts on “Book Review: Dark Emu by Bruce Pascoe

  1. This sounds like a book I would really appreciate so it’s gone straight on to my TBR. It would be interesting to learn how many of those native plants are still in existence and whether traditional Aboriginal ways of cultivating them could be reestablished.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You will definitely enjoy this book! Bruce Pascoe has tried as many recipes as possible and writes about them.

      I am concerned about whether the plants that have been grown were affected by the fires though. He lives in Mallacoota and I believe his property was damaged, and there were quite a few sites in around Gippsland mentioned as well.

      Like

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