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Don Watson

Don Watson is an author, historian and former political speechwriter. He has written more than a dozen books, the most recent of which is The Passion of Private White (Scribner, 2022). 

Don Watson reviews 'The Australian Dictionary of Biography Vol 7 1891–1939, A–Ch' edited by Bede Nairn and Geoffrey Serle

April 1980, no. 19 01 April 1980
In his uncommonly long life, Mahomet Allum, a native of Afghanistan, combined the vocations of camel driving, herbalism and philanthropy – not in Kabul, but in Adelaide. Allum believed himself ‘God’s messenger’, but a Crown Prosecutor described him as a particularly deceitful and cunning ‘quack’ and brought about his conviction under the Medical Practitioners Act. The Afghan had the l ... (read more)

Don Watson reviews 'The Scots Abroad: Labour, capital, enterprise, 1750–1914' edited by R.A. Cage

February–March 1986, no. 78 01 February 1986
The editor of The Scots Abroad took one big hoary fact, stuffed it in a cannon and fired it. Indeed he fired it to several parts of the world. Then he wrote letters to the provincial experts, asking them to survey the effects his missile had on landing. The results of course were fairly predictable and roughly the same in each case – it was the same fact after all. A lot of gravel and some large ... (read more)

Don Watson reviews 'The Blainey View' by Geoffrey Blainey

December 1982–January 1983, no. 47 01 December 1982
Geoffrey Blainey must be Australia’s bestselling historian by a very long way. His audience is far wider than Manning Clark’s for instance: and far less critical. Clark is periodically savaged by packs so frenzied they often seem unable to recognise the nature of the quarry. The difference of course is a matter of both style and substance. Clark, as an early critic once said, is ‘full of gre ... (read more)

Don Watson reviews 'Tubbo' by Paul de Serville, 'The Homestead' by Peter Freeman, and 'Homesteads of Southern New South Wales 1830–1900' by Maurice Canton

September 1982, no. 44 01 September 1982
If nowadays felicity and tranquillity were not the states induced by visions of the Australian frontier, this memoir of an Australian frontierman might be unsettling: I thought him the personification of everything noble and loveable and this opinion was shared by all at Livingstone Gully. He used to take me on his horse and gallop past the house cracking his stock whip. He played leapfrog, mar ... (read more)