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Cambridge University Press

Paul D. Kenny’s impressive and engaging book is a corrective to the well-established body of work on populism. This corpus grew in tandem with the most recent successes of populism that have been a feature of contemporary liberal democracies in the past decade, and are a source of anxiety to many who care about democracy and value pluralism.

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Two of my favourite images in Stuart Ward’s important new book reproduce black-and-white photographs. One captures the life-sized butter sculpture of the prince of Wales and his favourite Canadian horse, the star exhibit of the 1924 Empire Exhibition at Wembley. The other shows a group of protesters in London in 1973 contesting European Economic Community restrictions on imports of Commonwealth cane sugar from the West Indies and Queensland. Most of the faces in the picture are obscured, but the body language of a man to the left of the frame, slumped over his hand-rendered ‘Beat Beet. Keep Cane’ placard, communicates depression and dejection.

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Professor Joy Damousi was the ARC Kathleen Fitzpatrick Laureate Fellow at the University of Melbourne between 2014 and 2019. The ARC Fellowship made possible the scale of the now published book, enabling research not only in Australia but also the United States, Britain, and Europe. The book evidences the potential of richly funded historical research.

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More than thirty years after the last helicopters left the roof of the American embassy in Saigon, the flow of new books on the Vietnam war shows no sign of abating. Among them are some intended for a limited, scholarly market, some for a wider general readership; some for Americans, some for Australians. These three books exemplify some of the trends in both the substance and the style of Vietnam war histories, and illustrate both the virtues and the faults of differing approaches to the most controversial conflict of the twentieth century.

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In this week’s ABR podcast, listen to Ronan McDonald discuss one hundred years of James Joyce’s Ulysses, among the most famous books of the twentieth century.

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The Cambridge Companion to Travel Writing edited by Peter Hulme and Tim Youngs & Venus in Transit by Douglas R.G. Sellick

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May 2003, no. 251

In our postmodern age, when everything travels and travel is a metaphor for everything, travel and travel writing have become the subject of intense scholarly interest and debate. Travel, once largely the domain of geographers, and travel writing, previously relegated to the status of a sub-literary genre, now engage attention from literary studies, history, anthropology, ethnography, and, most fruitfully, from gender and postcolonial studies. Conferences and publications abound.

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Earlier this year, I took a group of students to the State Library of Victoria (SLV) to see its impressive Joyce collection. We examined some special books, including lavish editions of Ulysses: the 1935 Limited Editions Club edition, with Matisse’s accompanying etchings; the 1988 Arion Press edition, with illustrations by Robert Motherwell – and various others. But the one that had lured us down Swanston Street was the iconic first edition, with its famous blue cover, fortuitously acquired by the SLV in 1922.

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Family and Social Policy in Japan edited by Roger Goodman & Feminism in Modern Japan by Vera Mackie

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April 2003, no. 250

In the latest offerings in Cambridge University Press’s ‘Contemporary Japanese Society’ series, Vera Mackie outlines 130 years of Japanese feminism, while Roger Goodman’s collection explores a decade of policy interventions in that country that challenge a society still based largely on a strict gendered division of labour. Men’s primary role is to be the overworked salaryman warrior, while women’s is to care for dependents, both children and grandparents, in a society that ‘is rapidly becoming the world’s oldest ever human population’. Perhaps the shock of 1989, when women’s birth strike reduced the fertility rate to 1.57, should have been expected.

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A suitable motto for any prospective compiler of a large-scale history of a national literature might be ‘No Place for a Nervous Editor’ (to adapt the title of Lucy Frost’s study of nineteenth-century women’s journals). A few of the portentous questions for this imagined figure include: how is ‘literature’ to be conceptualised at the beginning of the twenty-first century (witness the Balkan culture war that followed the publication of the estimably inclusive Macquarie PEN Anthology of Australian Literature, 2009); how to balance the different needs and competencies of readers – students at tertiary and secondary level, academic specialists from various disciplines, a diverse non-Australian audience; how to choose contributors who combine scholarly authority with an ability to write jargon-free language for a diverse readership; how to construct a book that will satisfy both the searcher for information about a particular book or topic and the (probably rare) reader who wants to proceed from cover to cover? 

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Towards the end of the fourth century BCE, the Athenian orator Hyperides found himself in a difficult predicament. His client, the notorious courtesan Phryne, was on trial for her life. Facing accusations of lewd impiety, should she be convicted, death almost certainly would follow. The case was going badly. The jurors were refusing to listen to his pleas. Their minds were made up. They couldn’t wait to convict. In one last desperate roll of the dice, Hyperides called up Phryne to the front of the courtroom and, with a sudden lunge, stripped her naked. The jury were shocked, stunned into silence. Seizing the moment, Hyperides renewed his pleas on her behalf. Overcome by her beauty, the jury acquitted her.

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