Designed as an 'ideal city' and emblem of the nation, Canberra has long been a source of ambivalence for many Australians. In this charming and concise book, Nicholas Brown challenges these ideas and looks beyond the clichés to illuminate the unique, layered and often colourful history of Australia's capital. Brown covers Canberra's selection as the site of the national capital, the turbulent path of Walter Burley Griffin's plan for the city and the many phases of its construction. He surveys citizens' diverse experiences of the city, the impact of the Second World War on Canberra's growth and explores the city's political history with insight and wit. A History of Canberra is informed by the interplay of three themes central to Canberra's identity: government, community and environment. Canberra's distinctive social and cultural history as a centre for the public service and national institutions is vividly rendered.