Bernard Whimpress

Family histories have their limitations. One compensation is to discover famous or infamous ancestors. In most Australian states, disinterring a convict becomes a badge of honour. In South Australia, having a nineteenth-century premier and a noted pastoralist in one’s lineage advances a claim to fame ...

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Novelist Janette Turner Hospital’s recent essay in praise of New York’s Central Park remarked on its visibility from outer space. No doubt Adelaide’s Park Lands, an integral part of the 1837 vision of founding surveyor Colonel William Light’s plan for the city, can also be seen from outer space.

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A book’s title should indicate its subject and, even better, its approach to its subject. Basic dictionaries define a companion as one who ‘accompanies another’, is an ‘associate in’, or a ‘sharer of’. A secondary definition is a ‘handbook or reference book’; a thing that ‘matches another’. I anticipate that a book called a ‘Companion’ will be company, will allow me to associate, to share, refer, and be matched as though with a real-life companion; a partner. Given that the book is published by a major university press, it is expected that the companion may be more of a mentor than a guide, but still present information in a lively, accessible style.

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In the early 1990s the cricket tour book, like the western movie, seemed dead and buried. The formulas played themselves out around 1970, though the genre had a strong structure which allowed for fitful new interpretations. Direct telecasts of Test cricket and video highlights of series appeared likely to kill the tour book. Who needed to read about it when, having witnessed the games ball by ball, judgement could be passed again with the aid of electronic recording equipment? Yet a Test series offered a strong structure on which a skilful author could make interesting variations.

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