Tearing the Fabric examines the impact of sectarianism on Australian society between 1910 and 1925 – a period of intense ethnic and religious conflict as well as industrial and political turmoil, made worse by the dislocation of the Great War and adjustment to peace at war’s end. Issues and events such as the Irish struggle for independence, the quest for a distinctly Australian national identity, conscription, working class radicalism, the Labor Party split, state aid for Catholic schools, the deportation of Father Charles Jerger and the Sister Liguori affair made the period one of the most turbulent in Australian history. The book examines the period from the Irish Catholic perspective by tracing the history of the Catholic Federation of New South Wales, a mass organisation that was part of a worldwide movement for Catholic defence, which at its peak claimed a membership of 100,000 out of the 400,000 Catholics living in the State. To present-day Australians, for whom social harmony is the accepted norm, punctuated only occasionally by discord, this book will be a revelation of a very different Australia, one characterised by deep divisions and social conflict that at times threatened the social fabric of the nation.
Citadel Books, 2002, pp. 379, AUD $30.00, Paperback, ISBN: 9780958101905