After education at Canterbury Boys' High School (where he was a contemporary of former Liberal Australian prime minister John Howard), Windschuttle was a journalist on newspapers and magazines in Sydney. He completed a BA (first class honours in history) at the University of Sydney in 1969, and an MA (honours in politics) at Macquarie University in 1978. He enrolled in a PhD but did not complete it. In 1973, he became a tutor in Australian history at the University of New South Wales (UNSW). Between 1977 and 1981, Windschuttle was lecturer in Australian history and in journalism at the New South Wales Institute of Technology, now University of Technology, Sydney before returning to UNSW in 1983 as lecturer/senior lecturer in social policy. He resigned from UNSW in 1993 and since then he has been publisher of Macleay Press, owner of Macleay College and a regular visiting and guest lecturer on history and historiography at American universities. In June 2006 he was appointed to the Board of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), Australia's non-commercial public broadcaster.
This political evolution has continued since the early 1990s. In The Killing of History, Windschuttle defended the practices and methods of traditional empirical history against postmodernism, and praised historians such as Henry Reynolds. He currently argues that although at the time he believed that those historians he praised relied on traditional empirically-oriented approaches, he has subsequently discovered by checking their primary sources that some did not.
In the The Killing of History, Windschuttle argued that historians on the left and right of the political spectrum have misrepresented and distorted history to support various political causes or ideological positions.
In The Fabrication of Aboriginal History and other recent writings on Australian Aboriginal history, Windschuttle has exclusively criticised left-wing historians who, he claims, have extensively misrepresented and fabricated historical evidence to support a political agenda. He argues that Aboriginal rights, including land rights and the need for reparations for past abuses of Aboriginal people, has been adopted as a left-wing 'cause' and that left-wing historians have manipulated the historical evidence to increase support for that cause.
Windschuttle claims that the task of the historian is to attempt to provide the reader with an empirical history as near to the objective truth as possible, based on analysis of all the available evidence. The political implications of an objective, empirical history are not the empirical historian's responsibility. A historian may have his or her own political beliefs but this should never lead them to falsify historical evidence.
However, critics such as the contributors to Whitewash, have argued that Windschuttle does not follow his own criteria as, in their view, his work invariably produces findings consistent with his political views. The contributors to Whitewash include historians whom Windschuttle has directly criticised for "fabricating" history. The key issue is whether the historical evidence, viewed objectively, supports the historical arguments made by Windschuttle or those of the historians he has criticised.
A frequent contributor to conservative magazines Quadrant and The New Criterion, Windschuttle's recent research disputes whether the colonial settlers of Australia committed widespread genocide against the Indigenous Australians and denies the claims by some left-wing historians that there was a campaign of guerrilla warfare against British settlement. Extensive debate on his claims has come to be called the History Wars. He argues against assertions, which he imputes to the current generation of academic historians, that there was any resemblance between racial attitudes in Australia and those of South Africa under apartheid and Germany under the Nazis.
Windschuttle's claims and research have been the subject of a series of rebuttals and counter-rebuttals. The best known is Whitewash. On Keith Windschuttle's Fabrication of Aboriginal History, an anthology edited and introduced by Robert Manne, professor of politics at La Trobe University, with contributions from other Australian historians. Another book, Washout: On the academic response to The Fabrication of Aboriginal History by Melbourne freelance writer John Dawson, argues that Whitewash leaves Windschuttle's claims and research unrefuted.
At the time of the publication of Volume One it was announced that a second volume, to be published in 2003, would cover claims of frontier violence in New South Wales and Queensland, and a third, in 2004, would cover Western Australia.. On 20 January 2006, Windschuttle was reported as saying that the second volume would be published "within twelve months". [ On 9 February 2008, however, it was announced that the second volume, to be published later in 2008. would be entitled The Fabrication of Australian History, Volume 2: The "Stolen Generations" and would address the issue of the removal of Aboriginal children (the "stolen generation") from their families in the 20th century. . No recent reference has been made to the previously projected second and third volumes.