Review of the Month

After a succession of dramatic political events across the Western world in 2016, all eyes were on the French presidential election when it took place in the first half of 2017. Would the French resist the sirens of populism? Would the surprise campaign of the youngest candidate ever, Emmanuel Macron, offer a ...

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In Alexis Wright’s novel Carpentaria (2006), Girlie claims, ‘If you ever want to find out about anything in your vicinity, you have to talk to the mad people.’ There are a lot of mad people in Wright’s biography of Aboriginal activist, thinker, and provocateur ‘Tracker’ Tilmouth. He is probably the maddest of all, in the ...

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More than any other political party in Australia, One Nation represents a puzzle for commentators. When trying to explain its support – which has hovered around ten per cent since its revival in 2016 – the temptation is to look for subtext, something deeper, beneath the surface. Could the party’s cultural pitch really be a code for ...

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Australia’s politicians may be too mired in power skirmishes to notice that 31 October 2017 marked the five-hundredth anniversary of Martin Luther’s trumpet blast of the Reformation: the posting of the Ninety-Five Theses, his ‘Disputation on the Power of Indulgences’, on the bulletin board of a castle church in the ...

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‘What about Lenin do you admire most?’ Catherine Merridale, author of Lenin on the Train (2016), answered as most historians would: ‘I can’t think of anything much to admire.’  That this question could be asked at all in 2017 shows that the Russian Revolution continues to fascinate. Such continuities with the mental world of ...

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There has been an argument going on in the Liberal Party about the nature of the Menzies heritage – was Robert Menzies, the founder of the modern party, a liberal or a conservative? Notably absent from this discussion has been the national figure who was the first leader of a united anti-Labor party and who also happens to have been a father of Federation, Alfred ...

The planet is alive, says Indian novelist Amitav Ghosh, and only for the last three centuries have we forgotten that. This is because humans are suffering from ‘The Great Derangement’, a disturbing condition which this book analyses with wisdom and grace. Ghosh foresees that future citizens of a world transformed by climate change will look back at our time and perceive that ‘most forms of art and literature were drawn into the modes of concealment that prevented people from recognising the realities of their plight’ ...

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Beneath a frantic veneer of normalcy, American politics is not okay. It is as if Punch and Judy have careened out of a dive bar, tripped down the rabbit hole, smashed head-first through the looking glass, and found themselves running all three branches of government. Core to this is that unlikely combination of words, President Donald Trump.

As I write in Ap ...

A History of New Zealand Literature is a rewarding collection replete with the pleasure of new information that is both strange and strangely familiar. I commend it for both its intrinsic interest and, for Australian readers in particular, as one means of redressing Australia and New Zealand’s mutual ignorance of each other’s literary histories and cult ...

Neal Blewett reviews 'Evatt: A life' by John Murphy

Neal Blewett
Monday, 24 October 2016

John Murphy opens his magisterial study of Herbert Vere Evatt – the fourth major biography of the good doctor – with an essay on the challenge of writing biography in general, and of ...

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