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Malcolm Turnbull

When out of government, the Coalition parties resemble nothing so much as an ill-disciplined horde, by turns bombastic and bilious, riven with discord, forever tearing down putative leaders and searching for scapegoats to explain their losses and lot. The blame almost always falls on the departed. In the 1980s, it was Malcolm Fraser’s unwillingness to undertake proper economic reform that they most decried; after 2007, it was John Howard’s refusal to relinquish the leadership to Peter Costello. In Aaron Patrick’s new book, Ego, the blame is laid not at the feet of Scott Morrison, as might have been expected, but at those of Malcolm Turnbull.

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Malcolm Turnbull looks us straight in the eye from the cover of this handsome book, with just a hint of a smile. He looks calm, healthy, and confident; if there are scars from his loss of the prime ministership in August 2018, they don’t show. The book’s voice is the engaging one we heard when Turnbull challenged Tony Abbott in July 2015 and promised a style of leadership that respected people’s intelligence. He takes us from his childhood in a very unhappy marriage, through school and university, his astonishing successes in media, business, and the law, his entry into politics as the member for Wentworth, and ends with his exit from parliament.

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It’s a challenge to navigate the maze of books published after an election as winners and losers pore over the entrails of victory and defeat. It’s even more challenging when that election delivers a result almost nobody expected. Who’s telling the truth? Who’s lying to protect their legacy?

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The Turnbull Gamble by Wayne Errington and Peter van Onselen

January–February 2017, no. 388

After he crossed the Rubicon, Julius Caesar marched on Rome and imposed an authoritarian rule that would alter history. The way in which Australia embraced ...

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Since deposing Tony Abbott on 14 September 2015, Malcolm Turnbull has dominated Australian politics like a colossus. Turnbull's triumph, though long expected, happened quickly. The sense of national relief that followed was profound. The preceding eight years of Australian politics – scarcely the apotheosis of democratic governance – had produced intense public ...