In 1901 the separate Australian colonies came together in a Commonwealth. Institutions were fashioned to meet the needs and aspirations of a nation, markets extended, industries enlarged. Over the next forty years Australians pursued schemes of material and social progress through war andeconomic crisis. This book locates these events within their international and imperial context. Like other regions of white settlement, Australia prospered as a pastoral and agricultural producer - yet it aspired to industrial self-sufficiency. It drew its financial and human capital fromBritain and was bound to the parent country by bonds of trade, culture and sentiment - yet it yearned for autonomous nationhood. Four decades of endeavour merely demonstrated the extent of its dependence. This is a narrative history. It draws on the experience of diverse individuals to illustrate larger patterns, and it traces links between social, economic and political processes. But above all, it proceeds from the conviction that the historian must tell a story with purpose.