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Books Australiarss

Thought bubbles

30 August 2014
The Political Bubble: Why Australians Don’t Trust Politics Mark Latham

Macmillan Australia, pp.291, $33, ISBN: 9781742614076

The Professionals: Strategy, Money & The Rise of the Political Campaigner in Australia Stephen Mills

Black Inc, pp.310, $30, ISBN: 9781863956710

It is not really a surprise that political parties produce a certain number of oddballs; the scary thing is that they often rise to senior positions. It is hard to… Read more

Guilt trip

9 August 2014
Beloved Land: Stories, Struggles and Secrets from Timor-Leste Gordon Peake

Scribe, pp.256, $29.95, ISBN: 9781922070685

If you had to pick one emotion to characterise Australia’s attitude towards East Timor, it would be guilt. We are right to feel guilty about 1942, when Australian troops retreated… Read more

Oz Islam: Eid 2014, Lakemba Mosque, Sydney

Muslim integration

2 August 2014
Coming of Age: Growing Up Muslim in Australia Amra Pajalic and Demet Divaroren

Allen & Unwin, pp.189, $18.99, ISBN: 9781743312926

Growing up is hard enough at any time; coping with additional cross-currents of race and religion is a whole new world of hurt. The autobiographical essays in this book provide… Read more

Battered and beaten down

26 July 2014
Stop the Presses: How Greed, Incompetence (and the Internet) Wrecked Fairfax Ben Hills

ABC Books, pp.400, $39.99, ISBN: 9780733331930

It’s surely a fancy, the conviction that my first memory of newspapering came as a three-year-old, but I swear the smell of the business has been in my nostrils ever… Read more

Bronwyn Bishop: personal attack

Unfair and unbalanced

19 July 2014
The Rise and Fall of Australia: How a Great Nation Lost Its Way Nick Bryant

Random, pp.320, $35, ISBN: 9780857983787

The thesis of this book is that there is something wrong with politics in Australia. Bryant is right, but not in the way he thinks, and his book is more… Read more

Labor partisan’s economic tale

12 July 2014
Quarterly Essay: Dragon’s Tail: The Lucky Country After the China Boom Andrew Charlton

Black Inc, pp.74, $19.99, ISBN: 9781863956567

The old saw about economics being a dismal science turns out, on the evidence of this short but interesting piece of work, to be half-right. The field is pretty dismal:… Read more

socretes

Perils of activist judges

5 July 2014
Democracy in Decline: Steps in the Wrong Direction James Allan

Connor Court, pp.198, $24.95, ISBN: 9781925138184

Democracy in ancient Athens was often criticised by the aristocracy for not showing significant respect for them and their superior qualities. However, it was Socrates who came up with the… Read more

Labor renewal?

28 June 2014
Rudd, Gillard and Beyond Troy Bramston

Penguin, pp.165, $9.99, ISBN: 9780143571797

Ben Chifley once spoke about a shining light on the hill. By the time that Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard arrived, the light was that of a fast-food outlet by… Read more

2016… will she or won’t she?

Hawkish Hillary

21 June 2014
Hard Choices: A Memoir Hillary Rodham Clinton

Simon & Schuster, pp.688, $49.99, ISBN: 9781471131509

If you were contemplating running for President of the United States, a national book tour would be a handy pointer to what lies ahead: towns that blur into one, set… Read more

Out of his depth

14 June 2014
The Independent Member for Lyne Rob Oakeshott

Allen & Unwin, pp.380, $32.99, ISBN: 9781743319314

There are individuals who, when fate hands them the opportunity for greatness, have risen to the challenge. Rob Oakeshott was not one of them. On the evidence of this book,… Read more

Rupert Murdoch: a newspaperman at heart

With enemies like these…

17 May 2014
Rupert Murdoch: A Reassessment Rodney Tiffen

New South, pp.384, $34.99, ISBN: 9781742233567

Rupert Murdoch is not simply a great newspaperman; he is also one of the greatest businessmen of the second half of the 20th century. For 50 years he has taken… Read more

Australia: a land with news

Bold history

17 May 2014
The Cambridge History of Australia Ed. by Alison Bashford & Stuart Macintyre

Cambridge University Press, pp.636/644, $325, ISBN: 9781107011557

This is a bold attempt to write the history of Australia in 1,200 pages of narrative. A huge team of almost 70 authors come forward, mostly armed with fresh research… Read more

Long goodbye: Malcolm Fraser with Jimmy Carter

Radical nationalist

17 May 2014
Dangerous Allies Malcolm Fraser (with Cain Roberts)

Melbourne University Press, pp.360, $65, ISBN: 9780522862652

Many of Australia’s former prime ministers have been content to spend their political afterlife stoking the embers of their own legacy or feathering their own fiscal nests. Not Malcolm Fraser.… Read more

Incoming: anti-Vietnam war protests during President Johnson’s visit, Sydney, 22 October 1966

A noble cause

10 May 2014
Australia and the Vietnam War Peter Edwards

New South, pp.304, $49.99, ISBN: 9781742232744

I supported Australia’s Vietnam commitment in the decade between 1965 (when the Menzies Coalition government deployed combat forces to South Vietnam) and 1975 (when Saigon fell to the North Vietnamese… Read more

‘Qui, moi?’

26 April 2014
Diary of a Foreign Minister Bob Carr

NewSouth, pp.502, $49.99, ISBN: 9781742234175

In 2008, Bob Carr was on an ABC panel show, pontificating about the wisdom of decisions of the US Supreme Court on racial issues. Another panellist, Christopher Hitchens, a guest… Read more

Letting go

19 April 2014
Anzac’s Long Shadow: The Cost of Our National Obsession James Brown

Redback, pp.160, $19.99, ISBN: 9781863956390

We are not, by our nature, a militaristic people, and it is significant that our most well-known military venture was a defeat. But somehow or other, the Gallipoli story and… Read more

A sober critic

12 April 2014
Quarterly Essay: That Sinking Feeling: Asylum Seekers and the Search for the Indonesian Solution Paul Toohey

Black Inc, pp.94, $19.95, ISBN: 97818634956468

Let’s get one thing straight: gullibility is not a virtue. This simple principle appears to be difficult to grasp for many who support those who claim to be refugees seeking… Read more

Gough Whitlam: moderniser and reformer

Hero and villain

29 March 2014
The Whitlam Legacy Troy Bramston

Federation Press, pp.544, $59.95, ISBN: 9781862879034

There is a story told of Gough Whitlam as Prime Minister speaking with his Treasurer, Bill Hayden. It is late 1975 and Hayden has just been informed by the Treasury,… Read more

The new Garnaut Report

8 February 2014
Dog Days: Australia After the Boom Ross Garnaut

Redback, pp.304, $19.99, ISBN: 9781863956222

Yes, economics really is a dismal science, if this book is to be believed. Even when things are going right, they’re just setting up you up for disasters down the… Read more

Arthur Phillip: high-minded idealism

Our founding father

25 January 2014
Arthur Phillip: Sailor, Mercenary, Governor, Spy Michael Pembroke

Hardie Bank Books, pp.354, $45, ISBN: 9781742705088

Founding fathers of proud nations are venerated. From an early age, children learn about their achievements and sacrifices. A King Kong-sized statue will often abound the founding city. The nation… Read more

Sound military history

18 January 2014
First Victory — 1914 — HMAS Sydney’s Hunt for the German Raider Emden Mike Carlton

William Heinemann Australia, pp.467, ISBN: 9781742757636

Scott Fitzgerald once made the famous observation that there are no second acts in American life. Perhaps. But Mike Carlton disproves this thesis as the journalist now emerges as a… Read more

The persecution of Cory

11 January 2014
The Conservative Revolution Cory Bernardi

Connor Court, pp.180, $29.95, ISBN: 9781922168962

Cory Bernardi’s book is a reminder of the traditional values that made Australia and inspired earlier generations to fight for its very existence. Which perhaps explains why The Conservative Revolution… Read more

The Founding of Australia by Algernon Talmadge (Photo: Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Our colourful stories

4 January 2014
Girt David Hunt

Black Inc, pp.286, $29.99, ISBN: 9781863956116

That’s girt by sea, as in the national anthem. As a title, it fits the overall tone of the book, which revels in its unauthorisedness and genial silliness. Hunt lists… Read more

Books of the Year

14 December 2013

George Brandis In a year which saw a seemingly endless stream of books of the ‘where the Labor party went wrong’ variety — admittedly a vein rich with material —… Read more

The way it was

30 November 2013
Remarkable Times: Australian Politics 2010-13: What Really Happened Laurie Oakes

Hachette Australia, pp.352, $32.99, ISBN: 9780733631979

There is a test in Canberra which applies to the quality of political commentary. It is called the ‘Blue Poles’ test. People may recall the uproar which greeted the Whitlam… Read more