Neal Blewett reviews 'Recollections of a Bleeding Heart: A portrait of Paul Keating PM' by Don Watson

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.

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Neal Blewett

Neal Blewett

Neal Blewett has had a varied career as academic, politician, and diplomat. A Tasmanian Rhodes scholar, he taught successively at the Universities of Oxford and Adelaide and became Professor of Political Theory and Institutions at Flinders University. He has written books and articles on British and Australian history and politics. As Health Minister in the Hawke government he was responsible for the introduction of Medicare and Australia’s Aids policy. His diary of the Keating government was published in 1999. From 1994 to 1998 he was Australian High Commissioner in London as well as a member of the Executive Board of the World Health Organization. He now writes, gardens, and walks in the Blue Mountains.

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