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Miriam Cosic

Miriam Cosic

Miriam Cosic is a Sydney-based journalist and critic. She is the author of two books.

Miriam Cosic reviews 'The Unwomanly Face of War' by Svetlana Alexievich, translated by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky

November 2017, no. 396 27 October 2017
When Svetlana Alexievich won the Nobel Prize in 2015, the response in the Anglophone world was general bewilderment. Who was she? The response in Russia was the opposite: intense, personal, targeted. Alexievich wasn’t a real writer, detractors said; she had only won the Nobel because the West loves critics of Putin. Alexievich is kind of a journalist, kind of a social historian. What makes her ... (read more)

Miriam Cosic reviews 'On the Java Ridge' by Jock Serong

August 2017, no. 393 25 July 2017
A rich vein of political writing runs through Australian fiction. From the early days of socialist realism, through the anti-colonialism of both black and white writers, to tough explorations of identity politics today, we have struggled with concepts of justice and equality since Federation. The rejection of asylum seekers who arrive by a certain means of transport is the latest topic to galvani ... (read more)

Miriam Cosic reviews 'A Perfidious Distortion of History: The Versailles Peace Treaty and the success of the Nazis' by Jürgen Tampke

June-July 2017, no. 392 29 May 2017
It has been widely accepted that the harshness of the Treaty of Versailles led directly to the rise of National Socialism in Germany and to the horrors of World War II. The punitive effects on the German economy, the affront to German honour, and the unleashing of decadence and nihilism in its wake led to the appeal of extreme nationalism and the call for revenge. From the end of World War I, pow ... (read more)

Miriam Cosic reviews 'The Art of Rivalry: Four friendships, betrayals, and breakthroughs in modern art' by Sebastian Smee

November 2016, no. 386 26 October 2016
It seems a particularly masculine take on the processes of art to examine the way rivalry spurs on creativity and conceptual development. Yet this is not the book the Boston Globe’s art critic, Sebastian Smee, has set out to write. ‘[The] idea of rivalry it presents is not the macho cliché of sworn enemies, bitter competitors, and stubborn grudge-holders slugging it out for artistic and world ... (read more)

Miriam Cosic reviews 'Hitler: A biography, volume I: Ascent, 1889–1939' by Volker Ullrich and translated by Jefferson Chase

October 2016, no. 385 23 September 2016
There is a point of view that says we shouldn't humanise a tyrant such as Adolf Hitler since that reduces the symbolism, the power of his name as a synonym for pure evil, and can lead to excuses and to relativism. Another argument holds that we must understand the psychology and sociology of the individual's rise to power if we are to recognise, and prevent, such developments in the future. The fo ... (read more)

Reading Australia: 'The Female Eunuch' by Germaine Greer

April 2016, no. 380 24 June 2015
When Germaine Greer’s The Female Eunuch was published in 1970, it created a sensation. Within six months, it had almost sold out its second print run and had been translated into eight languages. Simone de Beauvoir’s The Second Sex, the influence of which critics see in Greer’s book, had come out in France in 1949. The Feminine Mystique, by American psychologist Betty Friedan, had been publi ... (read more)

Miriam Cosic reviews 'The Invisible History of the Human Race: How DNA and history shape our identities and our futures' by Christine Kenneally

December 2014, no. 367 01 December 2014
In the current fad for omnibus histories of absolutely everything, designed to replace ancient metaphysics, perhaps, or answer some marketing brainwave, no one has succeeded in quite the way Christine Kenneally has. She approaches her task with a very specific enquiry: what is the interplay between genetics and human history? Searching for an answer, she uncovers worlds within worlds. Kenneally b ... (read more)

Miriam Cosic reviews 'Wilhelm II: Into the abyss of war and exile, 1900–1941' by John C.G. Rohl

August 2014, no. 363 01 August 2014
Wilhelm II, German Kaiser and King of Prussia, may be a shadowy figure for Australian readers, better known as the butt of funny-scary caricatures in British World War I propaganda or of black humour in popular soldiers’ songs, than as a political player in his own right. He remains enigmatic even for scholars. Some hand him the burden of responsibility for World War I, despite the immediate tri ... (read more)

Miriam Cosic reviews 'Empathy: A handbook for revolution' by Roman Krznaric

April 2014, no. 360 31 March 2014
When I was a child, comparing the behaviour of two people in my circle was formative. One would turn out to help in any situation, from raking dirt on the local school oval in a working bee to stopping the car late at night to check on an old man hanging over the rail at a city tram stop. He never talked much about these actions, nor dramatised the recipients’ needs, beyond saying, if asked, tha ... (read more)
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