Richard Broinowski

Melburnians above a certain age will remember Coles in Bourke Street. Unknown to most of them, it stood on the site of another Coles, Cole’s Book Arcade, for half a century probably the most famous shop in Australia. Its founder, Edward William Cole, is now the subject of an engaging biography by Richard Broinowski.

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North Korea always gets media attention for negative reasons: a border skirmish with its southern neighbour; a missile trial launch or nuclear test; vitriolic propaganda attacks on South Korea, Japan, or the United States; or the appalling findings of some human rights group like Michael Kirby’s recent UN Commission of Inquiry on North Korea’s human rights abuses. The picture that emerges is one of unrelenting misery within North Korea and unreasoned aggressiveness towards its enemies – a dangerous and unpredictable country which, if it cannot be reformed, is best either shunned or guarded against.

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In the 1890s the six Australian colonies were preoccupied not only with getting a fair deal over tariffs and customs – and maintaining the purity of the Anglo-Saxon race – but also with the location of the national capital. Denizens of Melbourne and Sydney felt that it should be one of them. The compromise was a capital in New South Wales, closer to Sydney ...

Sydney by Julia Horne and Geoffrey Sherington & From New Left to Factional Left by Alan Barcan

by
December 2012–January 2013, no. 347

When I became an adjunct professor at the University of Sydney in 2004, I knew nothing of its history, and little of the ideological battles that had taken place there. These two books provide a rich narrative of both, and made me appreciate the privilege I have, even as a marginal player, in belonging to such a significant institution.

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A current view among foreign policy academics is that the pursuit of Australia’s foreign interests is too important to be left to the diplomats. Here is a timely antidote from Philip Flood, an Australian diplomat who distinguished himself as a maker and shaper of foreign policy, particularly in South-East Asia.'

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No statues for critics

Dear Editor,

I am sorry that Judith Armstrong should have such difficulty following my point that criticism is in some sense bound to fail because it is a secondary exercise (October 2010). It was Bartók, I think, who remarked that no one ever erected a statue in honour of ...

From childhood on a dairy farm in the flats beneath Mount Egmont, in New Zealand, John McBeth rose to become a senior foreign correspondent with the Far Eastern Economic Review, one of Asia’s most influential English-language news magazines. Like other old-school journalists, he asserts at the beginning of his highly entertaining memoir that no one can be ‘taught’ journalism; you are either born one, or not. So it proved in his case. A liberal arts education might have made the younger John a more reflective autodidact, but possibly not a more successful journalist.

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To go on thinking of the Korean War as a ‘forgotten’ war in a ‘hermit’ country, as we too often do, ignores the many authoritative accounts of it. Cameron Forbes’s new book is the latest.

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Since the Federal Parliament moved to the house on the hill, the rose garden on the Senate side of the Old Parliament House has been neglected and uncared for. Escapism, from parliament, from Canberra, from the intensity and claustrophobia of being locked up in a remote building, has always been a secret ambition of most politicians during parliamentary sittings. The rose garden used to be a beautiful and tranquil place to enjoy a reflective half-hour. On special days, like the opening of parliament, a military band would play in a marquee, and politicians, parliamentary staff and invited guests would stroll on the lawns, enjoying the music, an atmosphere of easy-going irrelevance, and the roses. It was like a scene from the last days of the Raj, filmed by Bertolucci.

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In their introduction to this collection of essays, the editors state that Australia’s war experiences in Vietnam left some lasting legacies, but ones that were either unexpected or unintended: a loss of moral authority on the part of Australian conservative governments, a breakdown in the defence and foreign policy consensus about the ‘threat’ to Australia, the revival of populist politics and resistance to conscription, and increasing resistance to orthodox political views on other issues.

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