As W.H. Auden observed more than forty years ago: ‘To the man-in-the-street, who, I’m sorry to say, / Is a keen observer of life, / The word ‘Intellectual’ suggests straight away / A man who’s untrue to his wife.’ Perhaps such popular attitudes explain why intellectuals as politicians are rare in the bear pit of modern Australian parliaments ...... (read more)
Gough Whitlam is idolised, Bob Hawke respected, and Paul Keating admired, but Barry Jones is undoubtedly the most loved by the Labor party rank and file, a lovability which puzzled many of his colleagues in the Hawke government (1983–91). Insofar as they recognised it, they qualified it – labelling him ‘a loveable eccentric’ – a characterisation of ...... (read more)
Neal Blewett reviews 'Losing It' by Annabel Crabb, 'Loner: Inside a Labor tragedy' by Bernard Lagan, and 'The Latham Diaries' by Mark Latham
Although you might not guess it from media comment, The Latham Diaries (MUP, $39.95 hb, 429 pp, 0522852157) is the most important book yet published on Labor’s wilderness years. It provides a pungent characterisation of Labor’s post-1996 history; conveys a profound understanding of the challenges facing a social democratic party in contemporary Australia ...... (read more)
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 ...... (read more)
It has already become a cliché: Kevin Rudd’s memoir, 'Not for the Faint-Hearted', is not for the faint-hearted. More than 600 densely packed pages long, it contains some 230,000 words and over 1,000 footnotes, but by the end of the volume Rudd is yet to be sworn in as the twenty-sixth prime minister of Australia ...... (read more)
John Murphy opens his magisterial study of Herbert Vere Evatt – the fourth major biography of the good doctor – with an essay on the challenge of writing biography in general, and of ...... (read more)
Books have long provided fodder for films and television. Now films and television series, particularly documentaries, spawn books. The Killing Season Uncut is a ...... (read more)
John Maynard Keynes has not lacked for biographers – about a dozen at last count. His first, his student Roy Harrod, established the framework of the public life, though providing only a sanitised version of the private Keynes. Donald Moggridge wrote the definitive account of the economic man, while Robert Skidelsky, with his three-volume work, John Maynard Ke ...
Much like her government, Julia Gillard’s memoir resembles the proverbial curate’s egg. Where her passions are involved, as with education (‘Our Children’) or the fair work laws, we are provided with a compelling policy read. Where they are not, as in large slabs of foreign policy, the insightful competes with the pedestrian, enlivened admittedly with her pe ...
‘Dear Dr Blewett, I am writing to you ... concerning your intention to publish the diary you kept during the first Keating Government ... Whether any legal action, criminal or civil, is initiated would be entirely a matter for the Commonwealth government and relevant authorities ...... (read more)