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Nick Hordern

Nick Hordern

Nick Hordern is a former diplomat and journalist. He is the co-author of two histories of crime in Sydney: Sydney Noir: The Golden Years (NewSouth, 2017) and World War Noir: Sydney’s Unpatriotic War (NewSouth, 2019). He edited, and wrote the introduction to, the first English translation of Liu Yichang’s classic 1963 novel of Hong Kong, The Drunkard (Chinese University of Hong Kong Press, 2020). His latest book, Shanghai Demimondaine (Earnshaw Books), the biography of an Australian sex worker in China in the 1930s, was published in October 2023.

Nick Hordern reviews 'Australia’s Asia' edited by David Walker and Agnieszka Sobocinska

September 2013, no. 354 27 August 2013
The launch last October of the Gillard government’s White Paper Australia in the Asian Century was quite a show; in Pakistan it would have been called a tamasha – to use the lovely Urdu word for a song and dance. A flock of officials, business figures, commentators, and consultants looked grave and prophetic as they preached the importance of Asia – as if it were a new idea (their own). But ... (read more)

Nick Hordern reviews 'Moscow, the Fourth Rome: Stalinism, Cosmopolitanism, and the Evolution of Soviet Culture, 1931–1941' by Katerina Clark

March 2013, no. 349 07 March 2013
In Ernest Hemingway’s novel For Whom the Bell Tolls, the hero Robert Jordan, an American fighting on the Republican side in the Spanish Civil War, receives some advice from Karkov, a Russian ‘journalist’ at the unofficial Soviet headquarters in Madrid. Jordan has been pressing Karkov on whether the Soviets consider the assassination of political opponents a legitimate technique. Musing iron ... (read more)

Nick Hordern reviews 'Exit Wounds: One Australian's War On Terror' by John Cantwell with Greg Bearup

December 2012–January 2013, no. 347 28 November 2012
To go into any bookshop, if you can still find one, is to be amazed at the space devoted to militaria: endless shelves of books not just about the two world wars and Vietnam, but all wars in all times. This vicarious fascination with war echoes another phenomenon of our time: the rise of overt public respect for soldiers. ... (read more)

Nick Hordern reviews 'Burma: A Nation at the Crossroads' by Benedict Rogers

October 2012, no. 345 26 September 2012
Too often foreign affairs seem the realm of tedious diplomacy, impenetrable acronyms, and cynical realpolitik. So it comes as a relief to Western governments and voters if they can from time to time adopt a stance that places them on the side of the angels. Helping transform bad régimes into good, as in Burma, offers such an opportunity, and activist and author Benedict Rogers’ book is very muc ... (read more)

Nick Hordern reviews 'Class Act: A life of Creighton Burns' by John Tidey

May 2012, no. 341 24 April 2012
Newspapers, they say, are in the throes of ‘far-reaching structural change’, a euphemism for ‘extinction’ that arouses complacency in the breasts of the e-literate; fury in those of the technophobes. But one only has to take a slightly longer view to realise that the golden age of newspapers, over which Creighton Burns presided as editor of The Age, may have only ever been a transitor ... (read more)
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