Across the Seas by Klaus Neumann | Black Inc.

Across the Seas: Australia's Response to Refugees: A History

Awards for Across the Seas

  • Winner, 2016 CHASS Australia Book Prize
  • Winner, 2017 Frank Broeze Maritime History Book Prize

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About the author

Klaus Neumann

Klaus Neumann is working for the Hamburg Foundation for the Advancement of Research and Culture. His 2006 book In the Interest of National Security won the John and Patricia Ward History Prize, while his Refuge Australia: Australia’s …

More about Klaus Neumann

Praise for Across the Seas

‘Klaus Neumann has written a humane, engrossing book imbued with the awareness that in telling the history of Australia, one tells the story of immigration. Immigrants – always resisted, always blasted by invective and ever essential to our society and polity – show us ourselves through the heroic journeys of ancestors, the recurrent frenzies of resistance, right up to our present parlous state as the most supposedly tolerant intolerant society on earth. But if you think you’ve read all this before, you should know Neumann has brought to this book a novelty of approach, a freshness of perception, that means all the others have been mere preparation.’ —Tom Keneally

‘A riveting book, vast in scope and timely.’ —Arnold Zable

Across the Seas’ strongest point is a lack of dudgeon. Rather than condemn or mock historical players with thunderous prose and stylistic eye-rolling, Neumann plays it cool … Neumann gives us a mature and measured consideration of an issue that will never cease to be complex.’ —Saturday Paper


Across the Seas is a call to remember, to rethink, and regenerate. And to overcome our culture of forgetting … it’s a fine and vital book – a work of highly accessible and gripping historical scholarship, which must be read by as many people in this country, and abroad, as possible.’ —David Manne

‘... I worked my way through Neumann’s wealth of archival research, watching as he placed piece together with piece, teased out the hidden innuendo and the often unhidden prejudice that has formed a symmetry of hope and shame for a hundred years.’ —Sydney Review of Books


Across the Seas is most impressive: judicious, sane, insightful and well researched. It is also an extremely important contribution to an understanding of the contemporary debate over what is to my mind the disgraceful treatment of asylum seekers.’ —Andrew Riemer


Across the Seas is essential reading at a time when poisonous rhetoric in the asylum-seeker debate, on the margins of Australia’s generous “orderly” intake of refugees, is muddying our past.’ —Weekend Australian


‘Neumann avoids the constantly changing arguments of the modern debate and, instead, offers a well-informed and insightful history of Australia’s immigration policies during the 20th century … An important book.’ —Herald Sun

Across the Seas is a useful addition to the [refugee] movement’s armoury. We need to use it to make a very different kind of history.’ —Solidarity


‘This book give us a sturdy historical context for a debate that continues to engulf Australia. Neumann demolishes old misconceptions and shows us there’s nothing new when it comes to the refugee debate. He’s sharp, brilliant, well informed.’ —the Age


Across the Seas’ is an impressive and insightful work. Its fastidious research and calmly crafted scholarship makes it an important contribution to a crucial contemporary debate.’ —Ames News


‘Neumann crafts a complex history of discontinuities and congruities between the past and present. Across the Seas manages to tie together many threads in what is a complicated and fraught history.’ —Labour History