John Curtin and Great Britain



22 March 2011

James Curran's new book Curtin's Empire is about former Australian Prime Minister John Curtin. Curtin's role as Labor's wartime supremo is etched deep into the national psyche: the man who put Australia first, locked horns with Churchill, forged the alliance with the United States and became the saviour of the nation in its darkest hour. Drawing on new archival material including sensitive and private correspondence from Curtin never before seen or quoted, Curtin's Empire shows that this British world vision was not imposed on him from abroad, rather it animated Curtin from deep within. Since entering politics Curtin had fought a bitter battle with his opponents - both inside and outside his party - over loyalty, identity and national security. At stake was how he and his party related to the defining idea of Australian politics for their times: Britishness.

This was a Sydney Institute event.


  • Professor James Curran
    Professor James Curran
    Professor of Modern History, University of Sydney

    James Curran was previously a Non-resident Senior Fellow at the United States Studies Centre. He is a Professor of Modern History at the University of Sydney, specialising in the history of Australian and American foreign relations. His most recent book, Unholy Fury: Whitlam and Nixon at War, is a study of the Australia-US Alliance from the signing of the ANZUS treaty in 1951 to the early days of the Hawke government.