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 Howard Years' edited by Robert Manne

March 2004, no. 259 01 March 2004
Neal Blewett reviews 'The Howard Years' edited by Robert Manne
Do John and Janette choke on their cereal at the name of Robert Manne as they breakfast in their harbourside home-away-from-home? They have every reason to do so. No single individual has provided so comprehensive a challenge to Howard and his ideological claque in the culture wars now raging in this nation. Manne was early to denounce Howard: for his soft-shoe shuffle with Pauline Hanson; for the ... (read more)

Neal Blewett reviews 'Seeking A Role: The United Kingdom 1951–1970' by Brian Harrison

July-August 2009, no. 313 01 July 2009
Neal Blewett reviews 'Seeking A Role: The United Kingdom 1951–1970' by Brian Harrison
The sixteen volumes of The Oxford History of England provided the authoritative synthesis of English history for two generations of students. A few volumes of this reminder of my undergraduate days, some still in their austere pale blue dustcovers, sit on my bookshelves. The first volume, Roman Britain and the English Settlements, was published in 1936, and the series was completed thirty years la ... (read more)

Neal Blewett reviews 'Mungo: The Man Who Laughs' by Mungo MacCallum

December 2001–January 2002, no. 237 01 December 2001
Neal Blewett reviews 'Mungo: The Man Who Laughs' by Mungo MacCallum
By the time I arrived in Canberra in the late 1970s, Mungo MacCallum was already a legend in his own lunchtime, which, as he admits in this latest book, ‘frequently dragged on towards sunset’. He was famed for introducing a new style of political journalism into Australia: irreverent, opinionated, witty, at times scurrilous. He was impatient of cant, and punctured pomposity. These qualities ar ... (read more)

Neal Blewett reviews '51st State?' by Dennis Altman

March 2007, no. 289 01 March 2007
Neal Blewett reviews '51st State?' by Dennis Altman
That quintessential Australian–American, Rupert Murdoch, recently counselled Australians against ‘the facile, reflexive, unthinking anti-Americanism that has gripped much of Europe’. While I confess to a certain Schadenfreude when the chief propagandist for the second Iraqi war, which has contributed mightily to that European alienation, seeks to come to grips with the war’s consequences, ... (read more)

Neal Blewett reviews 'Kevin Rudd: The biography' by Robert Macklin and 'Kevin Rudd: An unauthorised political biography' by Nicholas Stuart

July–August 2007, no. 293 01 August 2007
Neal Blewett reviews 'Kevin Rudd: The biography' by Robert Macklin and 'Kevin Rudd: An unauthorised political biography' by Nicholas Stuart
One of the hazards of election years these days is the quickie biography of the latest Opposition leader. As Simon Crean missed out on an election, so he missed out on a quickie. On the other hand, in 2004 his successor Mark Latham scored two – or three if we include Michael Duffy’s comparative study of the two political bruisers Latham and Abbott. Not that it did Latham, or probably the reput ... (read more)

Neal Blewett reviews 'The Oxford Companion to Australian Politics' edited by Brian Galligan and Winsome Roberts

December 2007–January 2008, no. 297 01 December 2007
Neal Blewett reviews 'The Oxford Companion to Australian Politics' edited by Brian Galligan and Winsome Roberts
Quite when the figurative usage of ‘companion’ as ‘a work of reference ... that is presented as a friend to be consulted with whenever needed’ came into fashion is uncertain. I well remember my first companion, the third edition of the invaluable Oxford Companion to English Literature, from my student days in the 1950s. Oxford University Press now has a large stable of companions – some ... (read more)

Neal Blewett reviews 'Goodbye Babylon: Further journeys in time and politics' by Bob Ellis

December 2002-January 2003, no. 247 01 December 2002
Neal Blewett reviews 'Goodbye Babylon: Further journeys in time and politics' by Bob Ellis
Bob Ellis is the quintessential Labour groupie, and Goodbye Babylon the latest instalment in the saga of his love affair with the ALP, which began with The Things We Did Last Summer, a slim and evocative volume, published twenty years ago. By contrast, Goodbye Babylon is a fat book; rather like Ellis himself, it is sprawling, dishevelled, undisciplined but likeable, witty, and gregarious. His pros ... (read more)

Neal Blewett reviews 'Gough Whitlam: A moment in history (Volume One)' by Jenny Hocking

February 2009, no. 308 01 February 2009
Neal Blewett reviews 'Gough Whitlam: A moment in history (Volume One)' by Jenny Hocking
Edward Gough Whitlam bestrode the Australian political stage like a colossus for over a generation: first as federal Opposition leader, then as prime minister, and finally as martyr. A legend in his own lifetime, this last role threatens to turn him into myth. More books have been written on aspects of his short and turbulent government than on any other in Australian history. There are already th ... (read more)

Neal Blewett reviews 'Power Trip: The political journey of Kevin Rudd' (Quarterly Essay 38) by David Marr, 'Rudd’s way: November 2007–June 2010' by Nicholas Stuart, and 'Shitstorm: Inside Labor’s darkest days' by Lenore Taylor and David Uren

September 2010, no. 324 01 September 2010
Neal Blewett reviews 'Power Trip: The political journey of Kevin Rudd' (Quarterly Essay 38) by David Marr, 'Rudd’s way: November 2007–June 2010' by Nicholas Stuart, and 'Shitstorm: Inside Labor’s darkest days' by Lenore Taylor and David Uren
The political assassination of Kevin Rudd will fascinate for a long time to come. As with Duncan’s murder in Shakespeare’s play it was done, as Lady Macbeth cautioned, under ‘the blanket of the dark’, literally the night of 23–24 June 2010. The assassins heeded Macbeth’s advice: ‘if it were done when ’tis done, then ’twere well it were done quickly.’ And as in Macbeth, the assa ... (read more)

Neal Blewett reviews 'Thoughtlines: Reflections of a public man' by Bob Carr

August 2002, no. 243 01 August 2002
Neal Blewett reviews 'Thoughtlines: Reflections of a public man' by Bob Carr
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, and why they have left little imprint on th ... (read more)
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