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Tom Bamforth

Tom Bamforth

Tom Bamforth is a writer and aid worker whose articles have appeared in Granta, Griffith Review, Island, and The Age. His website is

Tom Bamforth reviews 'Syria Betrayed: Atrocities, war, and the failure of international diplomacy' by Alex J. Bellamy

March 2023, no. 451 28 December 2022
As the war in Syria enters its second decade, the human scale of the catastrophe is difficult to comprehend. Shocked by the security service’s torture of children who had graffitied the words ‘Down with the regime’ on a wall in the city of Daraa in 2011, nationwide demonstrations rose up against Bashar al-Assad’s tyrannical government. When I ask my now-exiled Syrian colleagues what life w ... (read more)

Tom Bamforth reviews 'Where the Water Ends: Seeking refuge in fortress Europe' by Zoe Holman

April 2021, no. 430 23 March 2021
Facing the ‘global refugee crisis’, politicians in Europe and Australia claim they are protecting their countries from the arrival of untold multitudes. Yet the ‘crisis’ is not global but highly specific. In 2019, seventy-six per cent of refugees came from just three countries (Congo, Myanmar, and Ukraine), while eighty-six per cent of refugees are hosted in a handful of countries in what ... (read more)

Tom Bamforth reviews 'Future Proof: How to build resilience in an uncertain world' by Jon Coaffee

January–February 2020, no. 418 16 December 2019
In Future Proof, Jon Coaffee, professor in urban geography at the University of Warwick, asks readers to imagine ‘a typical day’: radio reports of an impending cyclone; public-transport posters encouraging the reporting of ‘suspicious activity’; the path to an office (especially in a CBD) protected by hostile-vehicle-mitigation bollards. At work, computer systems will be tested for securit ... (read more)

Tom Bamforth reviews 'Breaking Point: The future of Australian cities' by Peter Seamer

May 2019, no. 411 22 April 2019
In Breaking Point: The future of Australian cities, Peter Seamer quotes satirist H.L. Mencken: ‘There is always an easy solution to every human problem – neat, plausible, and wrong.’ Seamer, a former CEO of the Victorian Planning Authority, Federation Square, and the City of Sydney, has written a clear, pragmatic, and readable account of the complexity of Australia’s urban development. Thi ... (read more)

Tom Bamforth reviews 'No Place Like Home: Repairing Australia’s housing crisis' by Peter Mares

March 2019, no. 409 18 February 2019
In his analysis of Australia’s growing urban inequality, Peter Mares recounts a conversation with a homeless man outside a train station while Mares was walking his dog. The dog is well fed and has a warm place to sleep, but Mares can only give the man a few coins. These are implicit priorities we all share. Why, asks Mares, do Australians unhesitatingly spend $750 million annually on a ‘flutt ... (read more)