A Cohort of Pioneers
Australian Postgraduate Students and American Postgraduate Degrees, 1949-1964
Connor Court Publishing 2011
Despite its focus on education, Sally Ninham‘s recent book, A Cohort of Pioneers: Australian Postgraduate Students and American PostgraduateDegrees, 1949-1964 (Connor Court Publishing, 2011), covers a lot of ground: the waning of Australian-British ties, the rise of Australian identity, post-war Australian-US relations, and much more. The book is also personal: it details her own family’s experiences as young professionals studying in the United States after the Second World War. The discovery of a cache of family letters led her to consider how and why Australians went to study in the United States, and how the experience transformed Australia’s own higher education system and politics in subsequent decades. For the Australian students, American education opened the prospect of an Australia less dependent upon the United Kingdom. For the United States, then fighting the Cold War, Australian students opened the prospect of closer ties to Australia, an important ally. The book, which is built on an impressive body of oral history interviews, personal letters, and memoirs, is both an important cultural document and a very readable intellectual history.