Derek Parker rss

Tales to tell

14 March 2015
The Best Australian Stories 2014 Amanda Lohrey

Black Inc, pp.288, $29.99, ISBN: 9781863956963

The short story has long been a staple of Australian literature but has had something of a rough ride in the past few years. Many publishers, averse to risk in… Read more


24 January 2015
Quarterly Essay: Clivosaurus: The Politics of Clive Palmer Guy Rundle

Black Inc, pp.$19.95, 116, ISBN: 9781863957014

Not so much striding across the political landscape as huffing and puffing his way through the back rooms, Clive Palmer is an oddity even by the standards of Australian public… Read more

Under the bed

13 December 2014
Australia Under Surveillance Frank Moorhouse

Vintage, pp.298, $33, ISBN: 978085798972

The Spy Catchers: The Official History of ASIO 1949-1963 David Horner

Allen & Unwin, pp.736, $60, ISBN: 9781743319666

The bogeyman of the ASIO agent under the bed has long been an obsession of the Left, and judging from Australia Under Surveillance it will continue to be for a… Read more

Genocidal thoughts

15 November 2014
Blood & Guts: Dispatches from the Whale Wars Sam Vincent

Black Inc, pp.272, $30, ISBN: 978186395682

An Inconvenient Genocide: Who Now Remembers the Armenians? Geoffrey Robertson

Random, pp.294, $35, ISBN: 9780857986337

It takes a certain type of courage for a writer to complete a book and then admit that he does not really know what the conflict it describes is about.… Read more

In the big chair

11 October 2014
Triumph and Demise: The Broken Promise of a Labor Generation Paul Kelly

Melbourne University Press, pp.560, $50, ISBN: 9780522862102

My Story Julia Gillard

Random, pp.512, $50, ISBN: 9780857983909

Even those of us of a conservative bent hoped that the election of the Rudd government in 2007 would constitute a landmark, a welcome change, a new beginning. Looking back,… Read more

Racy reading

4 October 2014
Quarterly Essay: A Rightful Place: Race, Recognition and a More Complete Commonwealth Noel Pearson

Black Inc, pp.72, $19.95, ISBN: 9781863956819

In a field which is often characterised by polemics and hand-wringing, Noel Pearson has emerged as both a considered thinker and an active doer. So when he puts forward a… Read more

Head Beaters

27 September 2014
Not for Greens Ian Plimer

Connor Court, pp.275, $39.95, ISBN: 97819251138191

Optimism Bob Brown

Hardie Grant, pp.272, $39.95, ISBN: 9781742707662

Ah, democracy. The informed will of the majority. If only the practice was as simple as the theory. When it comes to issues such as climate change, one starts to… Read more

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

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

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

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

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

‘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

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

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

Andrew "Twiggy" Forrest (Photo: WILLIAM WEST/AFP/Getty)

Mining magnate paradox

16 November 2013
Twiggy: the High-Stakes Life of Andrew Forrest Andrew Burrell

Black Inc, pp.233, $29.99, ISBN: 9781863956208

In many ways, Andrew ‘Twiggy’ Forrest has become the likeable face of the Australian mining boom, a self-made billionaire without the haughtiness of Gina Rinehart or the swagger of Clive… Read more


The world according to Bob

19 October 2013
The Year It All Fell Down Bob Ellis

Penguin, pp.264, $29.99, ISBN: 978067077410

Apparently, Ellis believes that the year 2011 was as important as 1848. He never explains why, exactly. He seems to think that we should just take his word for it,… Read more


Sour mixture

12 October 2013
The Mad Marathon Mungo MacCallum

Black Inc, pp.288, $29.99, ISBN: 978186356185

This book purports to be the story of the 2013 election. It is not clear why it makes that claim, since less than a quarter of the book deals with… Read more

Born to rule

17 August 2013
Party Time: Who Runs China and How Rowan Callick

Black Inc, pp.272, $29.99, ISBN: 978186395591

Depending on how you look at it, the Chinese Communist Party is either the last non-ridiculous bastion of Marxism, an increasingly peculiar anachronism, or a remarkable example of Darwinian adaptability.… Read more

In the bunker

3 August 2013
Downfall: How the Labor Party ripped itself apart Aaron Patrick

ABC Books, pp.328, $29.99, ISBN: 97807333317

The rusted-on supporters of the ALP must wonder how it came to this. Six years ago, the ALP was on top of the world, looking as if it was entrenched… Read more

Hunting for bogeymen

20 July 2013
The Misogyny Factor Anne Summers

NewSouth, pp.182, $19.95, ISBN: 9781742233840

The Stalking of Julia Gillard: How Team Rudd and the media contrived to bring down the Prime Minister Kerry-Anne Walsh

Allen and Unwin, pp.305, $29.99, ISBN: 9781742379227

Here is how you make a conspiracy theory: take a couple of facts, stir in a few assumptions, then add a heroic victim and plenty of villains. And — this… Read more

Tony Abbott

One-sided story

25 May 2013

Political Animal: The Making of Tony Abbott By David Marr Black Inc, $19.95, pp 208 ISBN 978186355980 If there is anything the Left love more than talking lovingly about itself,… Read more