Derek Parker rss

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

Terra nullius

11 May 2013
Flinders: The Man Who Mapped Australia Rob Mundle

Hachette, pp.386, $49.99, ISBN: 9780733628504

For many people these days, exploration means peeking into some of the more unusual corners of the internet. This massive book goes some way to correcting that idea, reminding us… Read more

Hunting for bogeymen

20 April 2013
Earthmasters: Playing God with the climate Clive Hamilton

Allen & Unwin, pp.247, $24.99, ISBN: 9781743312933

Somewhere along the line, belief in climate change became something like a religion, complete with high priests and searches for heretics. Clive Hamilton, although a senior academic, appears to be… Read more

Talk is cheap

30 March 2013

The Rise of the Fifth Estate: Social Media and Blogging in Australian Politics By Greg Jericho Scribe, $29.95, pp 313 ISBN 9781921844935 The amount of virtual ink spilled by Australia’s… Read more

The bland leading the bland

16 February 2013

A Premier’s State By Steve Bracks with Ellen Whinnett MUP, $34.99, pp 296 ISBN 9780522860795 One always approaches the memoir of a retired politician with a certain trepidation: such books… Read more

Unreal city

2 February 2013
Canberra Paul Daley

NewSouth Press, pp.288, $29.99, ISBN: 9781742233185

It would be nice to say that most Australians have a love-hate relationship with Canberra, both as a place and a concept, but that is only half right. Outside the… Read more

The difference one man can make

19 January 2013
Good Morning, Mr Sarra: My Life Working for a Stronger, Smarter Future for Our Children Chris Sarra

UQP, pp.372, $34.95, ISBN: 9780702238888

When good intentions meet hard facts on the ground, good intentions usually lose. This is essentially the truth of the long and sad story of Aboriginal politics and policy in… Read more

Invisible man

29 December 2012

Gaysia: Adventures in the Queer East By Benjamin Law Black Inc, $29.95, pp 288 ISBN 9781863955768 Given the tight-lipped sanctimoniousness of some advocates of same-sex marriage in Australia, one could… Read more

The good fight

1 December 2012

Uncommon Soldier By Chris Masters Allen & Unwin, $49.99, pp. 400 ISBN 9781741759716 In military matters, separating fact from fiction and reality from legend is a difficult task. These days,… Read more

The best of intentions

20 October 2012
1835: The Founding of Melbourne and the Conquest of Australia James Boyce

Black Inc, pp.256, $29.95, ISBN: 9781863955683

Despite the importance of Melbourne in Australia’s politics, commerce and development, there has been surprisingly little written about its early history. Most people who live in Melbourne have probably never… Read more

Woman trouble - The Spectator Australia

13 October 2012

A couple of minutes on Google is enough to disprove the allegations that Tony Abbott is a misogynist. So why haven’t the journalists of the Press Gallery done it? As… Read more

Blast from the past

11 August 2012
An Incredible Race of People By Bob Katter

Murdoch Books, pp.458, $39.99, ISBN: 97817426658818

Not many men wear three-piece suits anymore; they look distinctly old-fashioned. But Bob Katter does, and there he is, on the front of this book, complete with the famous hat,… Read more

Heading for the abyss

21 July 2012

After years of being outplayed and outmanoeuvred, those in the ALP who think of themselves as electoral tacticians have finally realised what has been clear for a long time: that… Read more

The odd couple

7 July 2012
Madlands: A Journey To Change The Mind Of A Climate Sceptic By Anna Rose

Melbourne University Press, pp.354, $29.99, ISBN: 9780522861693

This book is based on a good idea: climate change activist Anna Rose, in the making of an ABC television program, takes Nick Minchin, former Finance Minister in the Howard… Read more

Life without Labor?

5 May 2012

Under pressure on every front, Australia’s oldest party is on its last legs The dust from the Queensland election might have settled, but there is a lingering sense that something… Read more