Volume 2 of The Cambridge History of Australia covers the period 1901 to the present day. It begins with the first day of the twentieth century, which saw the birth of the Commonwealth of Australia. In Part I the fortunes of the nation-state are traced over time: a narrative of national policies, from the initial endeavours to protect Australian living standards to the dismantling of protection, and from maintenance of the integrity of a white settler society to fashioning a diverse, multicultural one. These chapters relate how Australia responded to external challenges and adapted to changing expectations. In Part II some distinctive features of modern Australia are clarified: its enduring democracy and political stability, engagement with a unique environment, the means whereby Australians maintained prosperity, the treatment and aspirations of its Indigenous inhabitants. The changing patterns of social relations are examined, along with the forms of knowledge, religion, communication and creativity.