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James Dunk

James Dunk

James Dunk is a historian and writer living in Sydney, on Wangal country. His latest book, Bedlam at Botany Bay, was published by NewSouth in June.

James Dunk reviews 'The Profilist' by Adrian Mitchell

January-February 2016, no. 378 21 December 2015
'Everything is so sedate you could weep for vexation.' The first novel of literary academic Adrian Mitchell is a strange one. It is a fictional memoir that aims to inhabit the imagined world of the colonial artist S.T. Gill. This is a conceit that should free the narrative from the mundane, but The Profilist is a study in the ordinary. The novel is narrated by Ethan Dibble, an imaginary artist st ... (read more)


ABR Arts 19 May 2015
Gregori stares at the camera, his eyes hard and sure as he watches five babies being wheeled through the corridors of a maternity ward, selects a mother with a split lip and no flowers, and charms her. When he strokes the face of her child, Alexander, his eyes are tender. The range between these expressions is the heart of Partisan. Through an unmarked gate and a winding tunnel, some Soviet city ... (read more)

James Dunk reviews 'Seasons of War' by Christopher Lee

April 2015, no. 370 30 March 2015
Seasons of War is a fictional firsthand account of the Allied invasion of Gallipoli. Opposite the title page, the blurb suggests that it offers ‘the kind of truth that only fiction can’: what it felt like to be there, and how being there transformed the Australian nation (a contention which belongs, truly, to fiction). ... (read more)

James Dunk reviews 'The Man Who Thought He was Napoleon: Toward a political history of madness' by Laure Murat

March 2015, no. 369 02 March 2015
In 1798, during the revolutionary wars on the European mainland, the Irish rebelled. Though they were supported militarily by the French Republic, it was the ideas heralded by the Revolution that gave real strength to their cause. A decade later, in Dublin, William Hallaran argued in his An Enquiry Into the Causes Producing the Extraordinary Addition to the Number of Insane that much of the i ... (read more)
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