The Art of Time Travel by Tom Griffiths

Historians and their Craft

A rare feat of imagination and generosity.
No other historian has so eloquently and
powerfully conveyed history’s allure.

Mark McKenna
author of An Eye for Eternity: The Life of Manning Clark((Learn More about Mark McKenna at Melbourne University Publishing’s website))

My GoodReads’ Star Rating: 5 stars out of 5, which means: It was amazing!

A little about the book

The Art of Time Travel is a quirky, serious and personal exploration of the art and craft of history in Australia since the Second World War. The author, Tom Griffiths, introduces us to some of his favourite historians and describes how they work.

The Art of Time Travel describes how different Australian historians have approached history, how and why they’ve written down what they know, sharing it with those of us who care to know.  The book explains the different inspirations that led the various historians down the path they chose, and it also gives the reader an understanding of the difficulties of stepping-out of the “politically correct” square, and that historical truth can only be told from a personal perspective.

The book is interesting, easily accessible, and very important, assisting those interested in history to get a better well rounded understanding of how history is shared with us, and it also tells us to take-care, and not believe everything we read, taking notice of what is missing from the historical narrative. 

Inspiration for an amateur historian

Mr Griffiths’ book has proved to be every bit as interesting as I had hoped.

Source: Diane Challenor, Book Blogger at Artuccino, and Amateur Historian

The Art of Time Travel has proved to be a source of inspiration for my amateur historian aspirations which I demonstrate the best way I can within Artuccino’s Allan Cunningham Project.

The minute I saw Tom Griffith‘s book description on Amazon.com.au I knew his book was a one I must read.  If you combine my interest in the craft of writing to my enthusiasm for collecting fragments of early Australian colonial history, a book about Historians, especially Australian Historians, would be one that I would gobble up.

Skills required to make an intuitive Historian are the ability to retain massive amount of facts, analyse and consider them, and then communicate by writing eloquent prose. They need to be passionate and tenacious about their subject, and be tough enough to debate their interpretation of historical moments, similar to scientists. Not an easy path to choose. The truth about an historical matter is always subject to the bias of, not only the historian, but the influences of current day politics and cultural appropriateness.  

We depend on historians to ensure our true history is recorded accurately. They have the responsibility of showing us what happened to previous generations and why. If we know what happened and why, we may be able to find solutions for our future to ensure we don’t make the same mistakes again. Much of our knowledge is built on the mistakes of the past, and on solutions that worked and those that did not.

My first experience of reading the truth about Australian History, in particular, about the aboriginal experience, was John Pilger’s ground breaking book The Secret Country. It opened my eyes to something I needed to know.

Tom Griffith’s book reinforces my understanding that studying history helps us interpret the world around us and the “why” of things. Comprehending the passions and biases of the people who write history can help us read between the lines and form an opinion about what to believe and what not to believe, which in turns anchors my understanding that when I write about history I must take on the responsibility of being accurate and respectful.

A little about the author

Tom Griffiths is the W K Hancock Professor of History at the Australian National University. His books and essays have won prizes in literature, history, science, politics and journalism, including the Prime Mister’s Prize for Australian History, the Alfred Deakin Prize for an Essay Advancing Public Debate, and the Douglas Steward and Nettie Palmer Prizes for Non-Fiction.

Genre – Non Fiction

Non-Fiction, History, Australian History, Historiography

First Published

2016