Dark Emu takes double honours 

Dark Emu has won Book of the year, and the Indigenous Writing Prize jointly with Ellen van Neerven, at the NSW Premier’s Literary Awards. The awards were announced at the State Library in Sydney last night.

Read the ABC story.



Did you catch Bruce at the Sydney Writer’s Festival?

If you want to see Bruce  talking about Dark Emu and the research behind it, check out this video recorded at last year’s Sydney Writer’s Festival in a panel session titled A Coloured History.

It was broadcast on the ABC’s Big Ideas programme.


Dark Emu “an important and well argued book”

The latest academic review of Dark Emu has described it as “an important and well argued book”.

The review by Dr Michael Davis, honorary research fellow at the University of Sydney, appears in the latest issue of  the ANU Press journal Aboriginal History.

Himself an author and scholar of Indigenous history and culture, Dr Davis  assesses Dark Emu in the context of other works on the subject of Aboriginal land and agricultural practices.

He concludes:

“This is an important book that advances a powerful argument for re-evaluating the sophistication of Aboriginal peoples’ economic and socio-political livelihoods, and calls for Australia to embrace the complexity, sophistication and innovative skills of Indigenous people into its concept of itself as a nation.”

Read the full review here.


Dark Emu in the wine column of the Weekend Oz!

Bruce’s views about the nature and history of Aboriginal settlement is not the only theme in Dark Emu to be drawing attention.

Detailed information about crops that were cultivated, harvested and stored, and how they were prepared and eaten, has also attracted a lot of interest.  In October, Bruce participated in the What a Wonderful World Gathering in Melbourne – a “weekend of food and fun” organised by restaurateur Ben Shewry of Attica fame.

Some of the world’s highest-profile chefs rocked into Melbourne to talk all things food… and kindness.  There were a few non-chefs on the  bill as well, including Bruce, talking on the food and kindness theme.

Bruce has managed to stir up quite a bit of interest among both foodies and journalists, including The Australian’s wine writer Max Allen.  His column over the Australia Day weekend asked whether there were any truly Australian drinks that predated wine and beer.  In coming to conclusion that the answer is a definite yes, he recounts a recent conversation on the subject with Bruce and describes Dark Emu as “a remarkable book”.

Thanks for the plug, Max!   You can download his full column here 150124 Weekend Australian Max Allen column.

History academic endorses Dark Emu

A review published in Agora, the magazine of the History Teachers Association of Victoria, has described Dark Emu’s premise as “profound”.

The association’s patron, Emeritus Professor Richard Broome of La Trobe University, said Bruce Pascoe “has done a great service by bringing this material to students and general readers, and in such a lively and engaging fashion”.

Professor Broome has himself researched and written extensively about the Indigenous history of Australia and in his review, which appears in the latest issue of Agora, he heartily recommends the book to teachers.

Read the full review here 150119 Agora Book Review.



Books back in stock!

If you’ve been waiting for a copy of Dark Emu, your wait is finally over.

The new reprint has arrived and can be ordered through your local bookshop or direct from Magabala Books, (click on Buy the Book in the menu at the top of this page and it will take you to our website.)  You can also call as on 08 9192 1991 and Anahera will gladly take your order.

Spread the word.  We know lots of people have been waiting.

Dark Emu finalist in Qld awards

Dark Emu is continuing to garner plaudits, with last week being named a finalist in the 2014 Queensland Literary Awards.

It has been shortlisted in the history category, with winners announced in Brisbane on December 8.

The book, which is continuing to attract acclaim from historians, academics and educators across the country, sets out to uncover the true nature of Aboriginal civilisation at the time of European colonisation. Pascoe rejects the ‘hunter-gatherer’ tag for pre-colonial Aboriginal Australians and attempts to rebut the colonial myths that have worked to justify dispossession.

A review by historian and blogger Yvonne Perkins noted that “on every page is yet another example of pre-colonial Aboriginal life that will shake the reader’s previous understanding. He rails against the tag “hunter-gatherer”. The evidence he produces suggests that this label should be discarded. What is the point of such classifications after all? Pascoe observes that tests of the degree of civilisation ‘simply test how similar a group is to European and Asian civilisations and may not reflect their success in other areas such as social cohesion, resistance to warfare or sustainable use of resources’.’

This is the second shortlisting for Dark Emu. In September it was a finalist in the Victorian Premier’s Award for Indigenous Writing.

Dark Emu essential reading for teachers, says blogger and educator Lisa Hill

The reviews keep coming, and the message is getting stronger and more widely heard:  Dark Emu has turned on its head what we thought we knew about pre-colonial Australia.

Today, well-respected blogger Lisa Hill reviews Dark Emu from an educator’s point view on her ANZ Lit Lovers blog http://anzlitlovers.com/2014/10/21/dark-emu-black-seeds-agriculture-or-accident-by-bruce-pascoe/

“In 156 pages, Pascoe has inverted almost everything I thought I knew about pre-colonial Australia. Importantly, he’s not relying on oral history, which runs the risk of being too easily debunked, his sources are the journals of notable explorers and surveyors, of pastoralists and protectors. He quotes them verbatim, describing all the signs of a complex civilisation but viewed through the blinkered lens of appropriation and White superiority.”

“As a teacher  …  I recommend it as essential reading for any educator.”

Lisa Hill

Watch Bruce Pascoe at the Mildura Writer’s Festival!


Bruce Pascoe talks Dark Emu at the Mildura Writer's Festival 2014

Bruce Pascoe talks Dark Emu at the Mildura Writer’s Festival 2014


Bruce Pascoe joined the recent Mildura Writer’s Festival to talk about Dark Emu and what he has uncovered about the true nature of Aboriginal life and agriculture at the time Europeans arrived in Australia.

Click on the photo above to link to the audio of his presentation, or click here.


Dark Emu by Bruce Pascoe

Another great, thoughtful review and commentary on Dark Emu. Keep the momentum building!

Adventures in Biography

Dark Emu Black Seeds: agriculture or accident?  is a short, sharp challenging book.  Not challenging because it is difficult to read – far from it – but challenging in the way it undermines everything we thought we ‘knew’ about Aboriginal land management before white settlement.

dark_emu_coverDark Emu is an evocative title but the text is in fact illuminating, both for the light it sheds upon Aboriginal labour, agriculture and ingenuity and for its exposure of white people’s willful blindness.  Pascoe builds on the work of Bill Gammage’s Greatest Estate on Earth (another text I highly recommend) but goes much further.

Over and again, the early colonists recorded the existence of Aboriginal crops, food stores, houses, wells, irrigation systems and fisheries.  Then, almost in the next breath, those same colonists exclaimed how the land was just there for the taking.

Major Thomas Mitchell, as he crossed the frontier, describes what…

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