James Walter

James Walter

James Walter is Emeritus Professor of Politics at Monash University, and has published widely on leadership, biography, and political ideas. Volume two of his history of the Australian prime ministership (with Paul Strangio and Paul ‘t Hart),The pivot of power: The Australian prime ministership 1950 –2016 (Miegunyah Press), was published in 2017.

James Walter reviews 'Keating' by Kerry O'Brien

January-February 2016, no. 378 17 December 2015
James Walter reviews 'Keating' by Kerry O'Brien
Paul Keating continues to fascinate. Influential commentators such as Paul Kelly and George Megalogenis now celebrate the golden age of policy reform in which he was central, while lamenting the policy desert of recent years. Still, it is not enough: Keating, the master storyteller, wants to control the narrative of his legacy. Yet he professes disdain for biography and memoir, and is niggardly wi ... (read more)

James Walter reviews 'The Menzies Era: The years that shaped modern Australia' by John Howard

March 2015, no. 369 01 March 2015
James Walter reviews 'The Menzies Era: The years that shaped modern Australia' by John Howard
John Howard has long been concerned with countering what he regards as the domination of Australian historical writing by the left. His project was initiated before he gained the prime ministership, most notably in his Menzies Lecture of 1996, in which he claimed that most of the distinctiveness and achievements of Australian politics were grounded in the liberal tradition. It continued during the ... (read more)

James Walter reviews 'Triumph and Demise: The broken promise of a Labor generation' by Paul Kelly

November 2014, no. 366 01 November 2014
James Walter reviews 'Triumph and Demise: The broken promise of a Labor generation' by Paul Kelly
Paul Kelly’s considerable research ability, enviable political knowledge, narrative skill, and indulgence in polemics all figure in his new book. The former qualities make it a must-read for the politically engaged; the latter is so pronounced that such readers may succumb to frustration and throw the book at the wall before reaching the valuable final chapter where at last we arrive at a cohere ... (read more)

James Walter reviews 'Not For Turning: The life of Margaret Thatcher' by Robin Harris and 'Margaret Thatcher: The authorized biography' by Charles Moore

November 2013, no. 356 30 October 2013
James Walter reviews 'Not For Turning: The life of Margaret Thatcher' by Robin Harris and 'Margaret Thatcher: The authorized biography' by Charles Moore
Our media treat leaders as personifying everything that matters, yet social scientists disdain leadership. Most of what we know about leaders comes from biographies. And biography, dominated by those wishing either to demonise, or to celebrate, their subject, is a craft monopolised by insiders, acolytes, and journalists. Regarding Margaret Thatcher, academics have discussed her premiership (1979 ... (read more)
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