Nick Hordern

The idea that the world faces a second Cold War started out as hyperbole, but by 2016 it was sounding increasingly plausible. For more than a decade, Moscow, under the leadership of Vladimir Putin, had been waging a diplomatic, political, and military campaign to restore Russian power – in the Caucasus, in Ukraine, and in Syria. In the West this has usually been p ...

For countries, and none so important to Australia, have a political system as opaque as that of China. This is deliberate; since the turmoil of the Cultural Revolution, the Communist Party of China (CPC) has striven to make turnovers in its leadership as bland as possible. But the elevation of the country’s current ‘Fifth Generation’ Leadership was actually full of drama. The New Emperors, written by Kerry Brown, director of the China Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, tells us why.

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Kicking the Kremlin by Marc Bennetts & Putin and the Oligarch by Richard Sakwa

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August 2014, no. 363

Nick Hordern – long-time journalist and political staffer – reviews two books on Russia’s controversial leader, Vladimir Putin.

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Celebrity knows no borders, so the Australian visitor to Xi’an, capital of China’s north-western province of Shaanxi, shouldn’t be too surprised to come across images of compatriots like Hugh ‘Wolverine’ Jackman and Nicole ‘Face of Chanel’ Kidman adorning the city’s retail centre. But if they look around in Xi’an’s museums and historical di ...

On 18 July 2013the Russian opposition figure Alexei Navalny was sentenced to a five-year jail term on corruption charges. Navalny, in a speech to the court castigating the dispensation which has emerged in Russia since Vladimir Putin first became president in 2000, attacked a ‘system of power in which 83 percent of the country’s w ...

The launch last October of the Gillard government’s White Paper Australia in the Asian Century was quite a show; in Pakistan it would have been called a tamasha – to use the lovely Urdu word for a song and dance. A flock of officials, business figures, commentators, and consultants looked grave and prophetic as they preached the importance of ...

In Ernest Hemingway’s novel For Whom the Bell Tolls, the hero Robert Jordan, an American fighting on the Republican side in the Spanish Civil War, receives some advice from Karkov, a Russian ‘journalist’ at the unofficial Soviet headquarters in Madrid.

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To go into any bookshop, if you can still find one, is to be amazed at the space devoted to militaria: endless shelves of books not just about the two world wars and Vietnam, but all wars in all times. This vicarious fascination with war echoes another phenomenon of our time: the rise of overt public respect for soldiers.

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Too often foreign affairs seem the realm of tedious diplomacy, impenetrable acronyms, and cynical realpolitik. So it comes as a relief to Western governments and voters if they can from time to time adopt a stance that places them on the side of the angels. Helping transform bad régimes into good, as in Burma, offers such an opportunity, and activist and author Benedict Rogers’ book is very much a tract for these times – explicitly informed, he tells us, by a moral framework.

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Newspapers, they say, are in the throes of ‘far-reaching structural change’, a euphemism for ‘extinction’ that arouses complacency in the breasts of the e-literate; fury in those of the technophobes. But one only has to take a slightly longer view to realise that the golden age of newspapers, over which Creighton Burns presided as editor of The Age, may have only ever been a transitory phase.

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