Who, we wondered, gets the largest Public Lending Right cheque each year – Manning Clark or Geoffrey Blainey? Probably still Manning, and he’ll still be ahead in the royalties stakes too, but the younger colt must be closing fast, and he shows no signs of tiring. Even if he did, his publishers, like Manning’s for that matter, can always do, as they have here, a recycling and packaging job.
On the basis of what Macmillans admit is ‘limited alterations of syntax and style’, together with ‘one fresh note on p.58 ff.’, Triumph of the Nomads is presented as a revised edition. The Tyranny of Distance is also a revised edition. It’s ‘only a small new paragraph’ on page 11, and a six page Chapter 15 which ‘looks at the developments in all areas of life in the last 15–20 years that have lessened the distance between us and the world’ (a marvel of compression one might think) that have been added but sufficient unto the day … A Land Half Won is called on the verso of the title page a revised edition, but the publishers comment gnomically that ‘a blind man would be pleased to see any changes here’. What can they mean?