What is it about Paul Keating that so fascinated his retainers? Six years ago, John Edwards wrote a massive biography-cum-memoir taking Keating’s story to 1993. Now Don Watson has produced an even heftier tome. Narrower in chronological span – 1992 to 1996 – Watson is broader in his interests, more personal, more passionate. While not the masterpiece it might have been, Recollections of a Bleeding Heart remains the most compelling contemporary portrait of an Australian prime minister. Paul Keating has found his Boswell.
Recollections is really three books in one: a subtle and sympathetic analysis of the many facets of the twenty-fourth prime minister; a narrative of high – and low – politics in the Keating years; and a compendium of the political wit and wisdom of Don Watson.