Monash contributor

The Australian Archaeologist’s Book of Quotations is a veritable time-traveller’s guide for making sense of a continent, a nation, and its people. The editors, archaeologist Mike Smith and historian Billy Griffiths, have served up a smorgasbord of archaeological appetisers, with a feast of pithy insights into how Australians are coming to terms with ancie ...

Although the mantra ‘Don’t panic, but get prepared’ guides Jane Rawson and James Whitmore’s handbook for Surviving and Living with Climate Change, they certainly do not paint a pretty picture of climate-change Australia. The scenarios are alarming: Australia will be hotter, drier in some parts, wetter in others, with more frequent bushfires, floods, a ...

John Arnold reviews 'Blockbuster' by Lucy Sussex

John Arnold
Wednesday, 26 August 2015

In Blockbuster! Lucy Sussex deftly relates the story of Fergus Hume and his great Melbourne detective novel, The Mystery of a Hansom Cab. First published in 1886, it has never been out of print and has been translated into many languages and a ...

Why Acting Matters has on its cover the face of an ape; well, actually it’s Andy Serkis playing Caesar, ‘the top ape’ in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014). The point of this rather unexpected image from a movie not discussed in the book is, the blurb tells us, that ‘acting is baked into our primate DNA’. These two books, however, by elder ...

Since the loss of Lake Pedder, the Apple Isle has been the site of some of Australia’s most famous environmental battles: Franklin River, Farmhouse Creek, Wesley Vale, Styx Valley. In the Tamar Valley near Launceston, tensions continue to simmer over the future of the Gunns Pulp Mill – even in the wake of the collapse of its original proponent, Gunns Ltd, in Sep ...

The Great War produced its own idiom and slang. Many of the new words and phrases created during the long conflict, such as ‘tank’ and ‘barrage’, became part of standard English, although often with a different nuance of meaning.

The recording of Australian soldier slang was seen as important at the end of the war. It was recognised as being integral ...

James Walter reviews 'The Menzies Era' by John Howard

James Walter
Thursday, 26 February 2015

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 tr ...

James Walter reviews Paul Kelly's 'Triumph and Demise'

James Walter
Thursday, 30 October 2014

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 whe ...

Wolf Hall on Stage

Brian McFarlane
Thursday, 22 May 2014

Hilary Mantel’s Booker Prize-winning novel Wolf Hall has now been dramatised, along with its sequel, Bring up the Bodies. Brian McFarlane, a regular ABR film and theatre critic, caught the new Royal Shakespeare Company production in London.

If, like me, you were not a fan of Hilary Mantel’s historical doorstops, Wolf Hall (2009) ...

Brian McFarlane reviews 'Stage Blood'

Brian McFarlane
Sunday, 19 January 2014

Anyone lucky enough to have read Arguments with England (2004), the first volume of Michael Blakemore’s memoirs, will be eager to read the second, Stage Blood, in which he traces the tumultuous history of his years at London’s National Theatre. Further, anyone as lucky as I was to see such productions of his as Long Day’s Journey into Ni ...