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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.

Neal Blewett reviews 'The Killing Season Uncut' by Sarah Ferguson with Patricia Drum

August 2016, no. 383 21 July 2016
Books have long provided fodder for films and television. Now films and television series, particularly documentaries, spawn books. The Killing Season Uncut is a book version of the television documentary in which Sarah Ferguson dissected perhaps the most dramatic seven years in Australian political history. For personal drama, 2006–13 had it all: three defenestrations of Opposition leaders (Bre ... (read more)

Neal Blewett reviews 'Universal Man' by Richard Davenport-Hines

December 2015, no. 377 25 November 2015
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 Keynes, published over a period of twe ... (read more)

Neal Blewett reviews 'My Story' by Julia Gillard

December 2014, no. 367 01 December 2014
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 personal talents in handling the g ... (read more)

Neal Blewett reviews 'Diary of A Foreign Minister' by Bob Carr

June–July 2014, no. 362 26 May 2014
‘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 ... Against the background of the expectations of confidentiality with which you are familiar during your time as a mi ... (read more)

Neal Blewett reviews 'Perilous Question: The Drama of the Great Reform Bill 1832' by Antonia Fraser

July–August 2013, no. 353 25 June 2013
Over fifty years have passed since I wrote my first tutorial essay in Politics, Philosophy, and Economics (PPE), or Modern Greats, as it was known in Oxford. The subject was the Great Reform Bill of 1832, which for the first time in over a century expanded the right to vote and redrew the electoral map of Great Britain. I had planned to read history, but when I told my history don that I was inter ... (read more)

Neal Blewett reviews 'Gough Whitlam: His Time: The Biography, Volume II' by Jenny Hocking

November 2012, no. 346 28 October 2012
Jenny Hocking concluded the first volume of her Whitlam biography (2008) on the eve of her subject’s electoral victory in December 1972. Gough Whitlam had been the most effective and creative opposition leader in Australian history: since 1967 he had dragged a protesting Labor party into the second half of the twentieth century; provided the party with a contemporary social democratic agenda; br ... (read more)

Neal Blewett reviews 'Thinking the Twentieth Century', by Tony Judt, with Timothy Snyder

June 2012, no. 342 28 May 2012
This author, this book, and its composition are all extraordinary. Tony Judt, one of the most distinguished historians of his generation, made his name with studies of French intellectual history, then in 2005 he published his masterwork, Postwar: A History of Europe Since 1945. For me this is the finest historical study written this century. Empirically grounded, with a respect for facts, but con ... (read more)

Neal Blewett reviews 'After Words: The post-Prime Ministerial speeches' by P.J. Keating

February 2012, no. 338 23 January 2012
As of writing, Australia has six living ex-prime ministers – not quite a record. Of these, one, of course, is still in parliamentary harness, and may still aspire to the top job. Of the remaining five, all but one have provided us with voluminous accounts of their stewardship. The exception is our twenty-fourth prime minister, Paul Keating (1991–96). Not that he has not promised, or rather thr ... (read more)
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