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John Wanna

Professor Emeritus John Wanna is a Professor at Griffith University and also the ANZSOG National Director of Research in Public Administration located at the ANU in Canberra. 

John Wanna reviews ‘Curtin’s Gift: Reinterpreting Australia’s greatest prime minister’ by John Edwards

April 2005, no. 270 01 April 2005
John Curtin was recently voted Australia’s best prime minister by a panel of nine scholars of political leadership (The Age, 18 December 2004). He narrowly won over Robert Menzies (by one vote), but easily beat the likes of Bob Hawke, Ben Chifley and John Howard – in that order. Given that Curtin was prime minister for less than four years, while Menzies ruled for eighteen years, and given tha ... (read more)

John Wanna reviews ‘Making A Difference: Reflections on life, leadership and politics’ by Peter Beattie (with Angelo Loukakis)

September 2005, no. 274 27 May 2024
If we adopt a charitable view about political memoirs, it is generally preferable that serving or newly departed politicians should pen their reminiscences. If they are any good, it is a bonus. To have their particular ‘take’ on events and personalities is a valuable addition to the historical record, even if such products err on the side of self-indulgence and egocentricity. Most politicians, ... (read more)

John Wanna reviews 'Billy Hughes: Prime Minister and controversial founding father of the Australian Labor Party' by Aneurin Hughes

April 2006, no. 280 01 April 2006
Major historical figures generally attract multiple biographies. Napoleon and Nelson have, reputedly, amassed more than 200 biographies each – with successive waves of interest reflecting the constant need for reinterpretation. But at some point we must strike a declining marginal utility as we tally the titles – biography as running soap opera appears a postmodern accoutrement. In Australia, ... (read more)

John Wanna reviews 'The Wran Era' edited by Troy Bramston

April 2007, no. 290 01 April 2007
Neville Wran was nothing if not sartorial. He represented the new generation of politicians – dapper, immaculately tailored, effortlessly elegant – and stood out from his Labor colleagues in their crumpled suits and gaudy ties. His dress sense was not merely a matter of personal taste but also a political statement. He once appeared on the podium of a Labor party conference perspiring uncomfor ... (read more)