Alan was in brother David's class at school. Later I met him again when I was living back Armidale and he was in the University of New England's History Department.
Jason Steger, the literary editor of the Melbourne Age, wrote:
Atkinson said he was very relieved to have finished the final instalment, which covers the period from the 1870s to the aftermath of World War I. "The last volume was an enormous effort."
He started work on the project more than 20 years ago, never thought it would take so long, and admitted he was glad he had finished it.
The establishment of democracy had been crucial to Australia, he said. "The problems and challenges of democracy are in the end more important and challenging because the nation is built on democracy."
And in the week of Australia Day, Atkinson said the date was an appropriate one on which to celebrate. "Not because it's an absolutely perfect day but because it's an imperfect day in a way. It raises all sorts of problems that we can rethink every year, very deep moral problems and that's probably probably the way it should be."