Gough Whitlam was fond of replying to requests for interviews from historians by saying that all the answers could be found in the archives. ‘Go to the documents, comrade’, was his refrain. However, official documents rarely tell the whole story, particularly those from the modern era, whose authors are conscious that their words could so easily be exposed to public scrutiny. In particular, they are usually bereft of the innermost thoughts and motivations of the politicians and public servants. By contrast, politicians’ diaries can be goldmines. Written contemporaneously, an unguarded diary entry can transform our understanding of people and events.
Diary of a confidant to Hawke and Keating
Inside the Hawke–Keating Government: A Cabinet Diary
by Gareth Evans
Melbourne University Press, $49.99 hb, 432 pp, 9780522866421
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David Day has been a junior research fellow at Clare College in Cambridge, a visiting professor at the University of Tokyo and University College Dublin, and a research fellow at La Trobe University, the Australian National University, Churchill College, and the University of Aberdeen. Among his many books, he has written prize-winning biographies of John Curtin, Ben Chifley, and Andrew Fisher; and is currently completing a biography of Paul Keating. His first book was Menzies and Churchill at War.
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