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Bill Hayden

Writing a biography of any practising politician is a difficult task: you are more or less beholden to your subject, and the book can end up an exercise in diplomacy instead of perception. Writing a book about Bill Hayden, who has been called an enigma, a Hamlet, and a Cassandra, is double difficult. Writing about Hayden without Hayden’s help (he ‘was able to squeeze in only limited interviews’) is almost impossible.

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Hayden: An autobiography is a fine book – one of the best political memoirs written by an Australian. It’s also a valuable historical work by a former politician who, thank God, doesn’t take himself too seriously.

Bill Hayden clearly made good use of his time as governor–general (1989–96) to undertake extensive research. In the acknowledgments section, the author gives generous thanks to librarians and archivists who assisted his endeavours. But it is clear that much of the detailed work was undertaken by Hayden himself.

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