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A history of Australia, measured by the gun. From bushrangers and soldiers to the many farmers and recreational shooters, the firearm is an inescapable part of Australia’s story and its characters.



About the book

From Captain Cook’s first landing to colonisation and settlement, firearms have played an inescapable role in Australian culture.

Just as guns have been a part of Australia’s modern identity, so too has gun control. After the 1996 Port Arthur massacre, Australia became a world-leader in firearms regulation. Yet even before this tragedy, questions had long been brewing: questions over who could shoot what, where, and when.

In Under Fire historian Nick Brodie documents how gun ownership was brought to heel and Australia became the nation leading the world on gun control.

Be it for the control of convicts, the government-sanctioned arming of settlers, for recreational hunting, or for wars, Australians have carried arms. But the image of a gun-toting nation foundered as guns became more lethal.

Brodie has set out to show how, unlike America, we have gradually and painfully learned that no individual right to bear firearms should trump community safety.

Under Fire nonetheless carries this salutary warning for all of us, a potent reminder that there are powerful forces who disagree with our laws.


About the author

Nick Brodie is a professional history nerd and acclaimed popular author. Appearing regularly on ABC television, Nick is among the most recognisable of Australia’s historians. He is known for bringing fresh insights to old tales and new light to forgotten stories. Following his broad sweep of Australian history in 1787: The Lost Chapters of Australia’s Beginnings and Kin: A Real People’s History of Our Nation, charting bloody war in The Vandemonian War, and revisiting iconic wilderness in Kosciuszko, Nick now delves into one of Australia’s longest battles in Under Fire.


Note from the author

Writing Under Fire felt very different from any other story I’ve researched. By looking into the deep history of Australia’s relationship with firearms I entered a world of imminent, political consequence. Recent years have seen petitions to repeal the National Firearms Agreement, reached after the Port Arthur tragedy of 1996. Various federal politicians speak of gun control as if it were totalitarian governmental overreach and overreaction. Certain party operatives have sought opportunities abroad for alliance with America’s odious National Rifle Association. And worst of all, while working on this project, New Zealand’s Christchurch massacre was perpetrated by an Australian. Then, as if to underline a growing amnesia about the danger posed by guns, the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party had its greatest electoral success in New South Wales only weeks after that horror.

I started writing this book because I thought we need reminding that the gun was an important part of our history. Much like America and other colonial nations, we often bore arms. But I also set out to show how, unlike America, we gradually and painfully learned that no individual right to bear firearms should trump community safety. I grew up in a small country town in the tail end of the age of the firearm, learning to shoot before being allowed to drive. Guns were part of my story, just as they were part of Australia’s, and I think it is important to acknowledge this. But it is even more important to see how we came to live in a country where shooters have to be licenced, guns have to be registered, especially dangerous weapons are banned, and active shooter drills are not part of our school curricula.


Sample chapter

For a preview of Under Fire, download the first few pages here.


Reading copy giveaway

We have 30 finished copies to give away. If you’d like to receive a copy of Under Fire, send an email with the subject line ‘Under Fire’ and your postal address in the body of the email to Kirstie Grant.


More information

Nick is available for events. For more information about the book, please contact Kirstie Grant.




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Matthia Dempsey

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