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David Day

David Day

David Day has been a junior research fellow at Clare College in Cambridge, a visiting professor at the University of Tokyo and University College Dublin, and a research fellow at La Trobe University, the Australian National University, Churchill College, and the University of Aberdeen. Among his many books, he has written prize-winning biographies of John Curtin, Ben Chifley, and Andrew Fisher; and is currently completing a biography of Paul Keating. His first book was Menzies and Churchill at War.

David Day reviews 'Saving Australia: Curtin’s secret peace with Japan' by Bob Wurth

October 2006, no. 285 01 October 2006
As a middling country far from the centre of major world events, Australia has usually bobbed about in the wake of greater Pacific powers. After being a dependency of Britain for nearly two centuries, the country was accustomed to having its fate decided by distant power brokers. Yet Australian leaders occasionally attempted to strike out on their own in pursuit of what they saw as distinctively A ... (read more)

David Day reviews 'John Gorton: He did it his way' by Ian Hancock

May 2002, no. 241 01 May 2002
Robert Menzies cast such a large shadow that the contribution of his immediate successors has tended to be belittled, if not forgotten altogether. Each of the three is remembered mostly for things unconnected with their prime ministerships: Harold Holt for the manner of his death; John Gorton for his drinking and rumoured philandering; and William McMahon for the shapeliness of his wife’s legs. ... (read more)

David Day reviews 'Inside the Hawke–Keating Government: A cabinet diary' by Gareth Evans

December 2014, no. 367 25 November 2014
Gough Whitlam was fond of replying to requests for interviews from historians by saying that all the answers could be found in the archives. ‘Go to the documents, comrade’, was his refrain. However, official documents rarely tell the whole story, particularly those from the modern era, whose authors are conscious that their words could so easily be exposed to public scrutiny. In particular, th ... (read more)

David Day reviews 'Menzies at War' by Anne Henderson

August 2014, no. 363 01 August 2014
Prime ministers seem to value longevity, whether it is Bob Hawke relishing the fact that he served longer than John Curtin and Ben Chifley combined, or John Howard relishing that he served longer than Hawke. But no prime minister is likely to serve as long as Robert Menzies’ sixteen years as prime minister from 1949 to 1966. His record is even more impressive when his earlier term (1939–1941) ... (read more)

David Day reviews 'The Penguin Book of Australian War Writing' edited by Mark Dapin

February 2012, no. 338 20 January 2012
War is one of the great paradoxes of Australia. Why should a people occupying a continent so far from the world’s trouble spots have spent so much of their history dying in often distant wars? It is one of the questions that drew me to the study of Australian history. I am little the wiser after reading this collection of Australian war writing. This is partly because editor Mark Dapin is intent ... (read more)

David Day reviews 'Joseph Lyons: The people’s Prime Minister' by Anne Henderson

December 2011–January 2012, no. 337 24 November 2011
This book is long overdue. It is eighty years since affable Joseph Lyons, often depicted by cartoonists as a koala, was elected as Australia’s tenth prime minister. He would be re-elected twice before dying in office in April 1939. During his seven years as prime minister, Lyons had to grapple with the Depression, the decline of the British Empire, and the threat of Germany and Japan. Yet no his ... (read more)