The Somme – it is a name that still strikes dread in the ears for its carnage, ineptitude and sheer waste of life. For the English-speaking world at least, the battle of the Somme has come to symbolise all that was bad about the Great War in general, and the Western Front in particular. The 141-day battle cost the British Army alone more than 400,000 casualties, including 150,000 men killed. The first day (1 July 1916) saw the death of 20,000 soldiers – the single bloodiest day in the history of the British Army. It wasn’t quite as bad as the savage slaughter at Towton on 29 March 1461, where about 30,000 Englishmen perished in the vicious quarrel between York and Lancaster, but on the Somme the bloodshed kept going, day after day for four and a half months, and no one seemed to know how to stop it.... (read more)
When the Bill that became the Modern Slavery Act 2018 (Cth) was introduced into the federal parliament, it was accompanied by a grim message: two centuries after the abolition of the slave trade in the United Kingdom, it is estimated that there are twenty-five million victims of modern slavery worldwide. It also came with a bracing if Panglossian promise: t ...
This is an unusual book. It is, so the title indicates, about guns and firearm regulations in Australia, with some comparison to the United States. But, as a prefatory note to readers cautions, ‘this book is less about guns and more about the continuing tension between the authority and power of the state and the responsibilities and entitlements of citizens ...... (read more)
Lyndon Megarrity reviews 'Back from the Brink, 1997–2001: The Howard Government Volume II' edited by Tom Frame
Back from the Brink is the second volume of a projected four-volume series that investigates the performance of the four Howard governments (1996–2007). The first dealt with the Liberal– National Party coalition’s election in 1996 and their first year in power. The work under review focuses on the period from ...... (read more)
Terry Lane reviews 'Liberty: A History of Civil Liberties in Australia' by James Waghorne and Stuart Macintyre
In 1988 the Hawke government put a constitutional amendment to a referendum. On the recommendation of the government’s Constitution Commission, we were invited to vote to enshrine guarantees of trial by jury, property rights, and freedom of religion. The proposition was rejected by all states. There is nothing surprising in that. We almost always do vote against c ...
Since the mid 1990s, when Robert Putnam lionised the concept in his famous essay ‘Bowling Alone’, writing on ‘social capital’ has proliferated. It caught the eye of politicians, including then United States President Bill Clinton, and for a while it seemed that everyone was lamenting its decline ...... (read more)