About the book

Out of relentless research, Monteath and Munt present an engrossing portrait of Fred Rose. His life takes us through rip-roaring tales from Australia's northern frontier to enthralling intellectual tussles over kinship systems and political dramas as he runs rings around his Petrov inquisitors.

More than any other injustices, the abuse of Aboriginal people leads him into the Communist Party in 1942. His move to academic life in what he insisted on calling the German Democratic Republic made him a dissident against anthropological orthodoxies in the Soviet Bloc as he had been in Australia.

Red professor—book—Australian history—PMLA 2016
Published by: 
Wakefield Press

About the authors


Peter Monteath teaches History in the School of International Studies at Flinders University in Adelaide. He is also a Fellow of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. He is the author of POW: Australian Prisoners of War in Hitler's Reich (Pan Macmillan 2011) and Interned: Torrens Island 1914–1915 (Wakefield Press 2014).

Peter Monteath—author—Australian history—PMLA 2016


Valerie Munt is an Adjunct Lecturer in History in the School of International Studies at Flinders University. She was born and educated in Adelaide, graduating with an Honours Degree in History and a PhD from Flinders University and a Masters degree in Education from the University of South Australia.

Valerie Munt—author—Australian history—PMLA 2016

Judges’ comments

As a result of thorough and relentless research, including access to ASIO files and the Stasi files of East Germany's notorious secret police, Peter Monteath and Valerie Munt have produced an engrossing biography of radical anthropologist and communist Fred Rose.

Red Professor traces Rose's life from his birth in South London during the Great Depression to his death in East Berlin shortly after the Wall came down. This biography is an extremely revealing portrait of much of the 20th century as seen through communist eyes. It also uncovers gripping details about a political and scientific activist from the time he joined the Communist Party of Australia in 1942, largely because of what he perceived as the gross abuse of Aboriginals.

While the authorial voice is often pro-Rose, the actual information uncovered by Monteath and Munt is impressive. For example, during his life in East Germany, Rose not only passed on to his Stasi handlers information about his university colleagues and his visitors from Australia, including Gough Whitlam, but he also informed them about his wife and children.

In terms of new information revealed, Red Professor is an important book.