Frank Bongiorno, professor of history at the Australian National University (ANU), has won the 2023 ACT Book of the Year award for his book Dreamers and Schemers: A Political History of Australia. The book, published by La Trobe University Press, is a sweeping and engaging account of the people, events, and ideas that have shaped Australian politics from the colonial era to the present day.
The ACT Arts Minister, Tara Cheyne, announced the winner on Friday, praising the book’s 'perceptive honesty and contemporary sensibility' that 'shine throughout the narrative, providing readers with a fresh perspective on the subject'. She also commended Bongiorno for achieving 'the difficult task of synthesising a large volume of material in a coherent and accessible manner, and his fluid style allows deep insight into the complex dynamics of politics'.
Bongiorno’s book has also received other prestigious awards, such as the Australian Political Studies Association Henry Mayer Book Prize for Australian Politics, which is awarded biennially for the best book on Australian politics published during the previous two years, and the Canberra Critics’ Circle Award for Non-Fiction, which recognises the best works of literature, theatre, music, dance, and visual arts in the ACT.
Bongiorno’s book is not only a scholarly contribution to the field of Australian history, but also a timely and relevant exploration of the political challenges and opportunities facing the nation in the 21st century. As the book’s blurb states, “Dreamers and Schemers is a book for anyone who wants to understand how this country came to be what it is, and what it might become”.