Dr David

Dr David Day


Honorary Research Associate

College of Arts, Social Sciences and Commerce

Humanities and Social Sciences

Department of Archaeology and History

Melbourne (Bundoora)


B.A. Hons (Melbourne); Ph.D. (Cambridge)



Membership of professional associations

Chair, Australian Society of Authors, Fellow, Academy of Social Sciences in Australia

Area of study

Australian Studies

Brief profile

Dr David Day has been a research fellow at Clare College in Cambridge, an Associate Professor at Bond University and an ARC Senior Research Fellow at La Trobe. He has twice been a visiting professor at the University of Tokyo and also served for three years as the Keith Cameron Professor of Australian History at University College Dublin and been a visiting professor at the University of Aberdeen. His many books include a study of Menzies and Churchill;  official histories of the Australian Customs Service and the Australian Bureau of Meteorology; biographies of Australian prime ministers Andrew Fisher, John Curtin, Ben Chifley and Paul Keating; a history of Australia (Claiming a Continent), which introduced the concept of 'supplanting societies' ; a thematic history of the world (Conquest: How societies overwhelm others), which set the notion of 'supplanting societies' into a global context; the first international history of Antarctica; a study of the Antarctic explorer, Douglas Mawson; and ground-breaking books on the Second World War. He has won or been short-listed for several literary prizes, including the South Australian Festival Prize for Literature, the National Biography Award, the NSW Premier's Literary Prize, NSW Premier's History Award, the Centre for Australian Cultural Studies National Awards, the Queensland Premier's Literary Award and the Fellowship of Australian Writers Book of the Year.

Research interests

Australian Government and Politics

- Prime Ministers

Australian History

- Second World War, Customs History, Meteorology, Exploration, Political Biography, Leadership

International Relations

- Antarctica, Genocide


Consultancy for official histories, biographies and television documentaries.

Recent publications

Major Books:

Paul Keating: The biography, HarperCollins, Sydney, 2015

Flaws in the Ice: In search of Douglas Mawson, Scribe, Melbourne, 2013

Antarctica: A biography, Random House, Sydney, 2012; Oxford University Press, New York and London, 2013

Andrew Fisher: A Life, HarperCollins, Sydney, 2008, Short-listed, National Biography Award; short-listed, Adelaide Festival Award for Literature.

Conquest: How societies overwhelm others, Oxford University Press, London and New York, 2008, HarperCollins, Sydney, 2005, published in Spanish by Crítica (2006), in Korean (2007) and Czech (2007). Short-listed, NSW Premier’s Literary Prize.

The Weather Watchers: A Centenary History of the Australian Bureau of Meteorology, Melbourne University Publishing, 2007

The Politics of War, HarperCollins, Sydney, 2003, paperback published August 2004.

Chifley, HarperCollins, Sydney 2001; paperback, 2002, Short-listed, NSW Premier’s History Award, Honourable Mention, Centre for Australian Cultural Studies National Awards for ‘An Outstanding Contribution to Australian Culture’, 2001

Older publications

Major Books:

John Curtin: A Life, (HarperCollins, Sydney, 1999; paperback, 2000. Won Queensland Premier’s Literary Award and short-listed for the NSW Premier’s Literary Award

Claiming a Continent: A New History of Australia, HarperCollins, Sydney 1996; 4th ed. 2005. Danish edition, Roskilde University Press, 2003. Awarded the South Australian Festival Prize for Literature, 1998

Contraband and Controversy: The Customs History of Australia from 1901, AGPS Press, Canberra, 1996

Smugglers and Sailors: The Customs History of Australia, AGPS Press, Canberra, 1992. Short-listed, Fellowship of Australian Writers for its Book of the Year 1992

Reluctant Nation: Australia and the Allied Defeat of Japan, 1942-45, Oxford University Press, 1992

The Great Betrayal: Britain, Australia and the Onset of the Pacific War, 1939-42, Angus and Robertson, Sydney, 1988, Norton, New York, 1988; OUP, 1993

Menzies and Churchill at War, Angus and Robertson, Sydney, 1986; Paragon Press, New York, 1987; Oxford University Press, 1993; Simon and Schuster, Sydney, 2001

Research projects

A biography of Bob Hawke

A history of genocide