James Belich was born in Wellington, New Zealand, in 1956. After completing his masters in Wellington, he studied as a Rhodes Scholar at Nuffield College, Oxford, where he completed the doctorate which would become his first book, »The New Zealand Wars«. He is the author of five books and many articles on New Zealand and global history, and is a speaker at international academic and literary conferences. He has also written and presented for television and created museum exhibitions. »The Oxford Companion to New Zealand Literature« notes that Belich »is recognised as a writer of merit as well as for significantly reinterpreting nineteenth-century New Zealand history«.
Indigenous peoples’ responses to the trauma of Europe’s expansion, and the associated white mythologies, are an abiding presence in Belich’s writing. »The New Zealand Wars« (1986) explored Maori/Pakeha conflicts in the 19th century and helped to reshape New Zealanders views of their history and themselves. The book won the Trevor Reece Memorial Prize (UK) and was later turned into a highly popular television documentary series. His second book, »I Shall Not Die« (1989) won the Adam Literature Prize and explored the human dimensions of conflicts. The two-volume »History of the New Zealanders« consists of »Making Peoples« (1996) and »Paradise Reforged« (2001). »Replenishing the Earth, The Settler Revolution and the Rise of the Anglo-world, 1783–1939« (2009) took these themes global. The »BBC History Magazine« thought it »a superb work of history: deeply considered, wise, beautifully written and genuinely enlightening. It has about it the ring of a newly perceived historical truth, of the sort that every so often opens our eyes to what really happened«. Belich’s writing is »confident in its broad sweep and vigorous in its detail, whether he writes about Maori techniques of trench warfare or the courting rituals of the society elite of Tauranga in the late nineteenth century« (»The Oxford Companion to New Zealand Literature«).
James Belich received the Prime Minister’s Award for Literature (non-fiction) in 2011 and is an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit. He has held professorships at the Universities of Auckland and Wellington, and is now Beit Professor of Commonwealth and Imperial History at Oxford University and a Fellow of Balliol College. He will be the Director of the Oxford Centre for Global History in October 2012, and is currently writing a book on the roots of European expansion. He lives in Oxford and Wellington, New Zealand.
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