It’s a provocative title. Forty-two years ago, Phillip Knightley’s The First Casualty: From the Crimea to Vietnam: The war correspondent as hero, propagandist, and myth-maker (1975) kick-started a new field of media history. Knightley’s rollicking account of journalistic connivance with political and military power from the Crimean to the Gulf Wars spared ...... (read more)
Kathrin Bartha reviews 'Facing Gaia: Eight lectures on the new climatic regime' by Bruno Latour, translated by Catherine Porter
Have you heard of the Anthropocene, the so-called Age of Humans? Our geological epoch has been renamed because human influences on Earth are so profound that not only is our climate changing, but so are our soils, water, and social order. Bruno Latour, prolific French philosopher and historian of science, dedicates his book ...... (read more)
Brian McFarlane reviews 'Balancing Acts: Behind the scenes at the National Theatre' by Nicholas Hytner
One of the most appropriate titles since Pride and Prejudice, Balancing Acts adroitly captures the drama and appeal of Nicholas Hytner’s account of his twelve years as director of London’s National Theatre. There have been several different takes on this often-controversial site of some of the world’s most riveting theatrical fare ...... (read more)
The blue painted wall and the blue painted pipe
with its throat jagged out
is the first thing I photograph ...
Within the last decade, a new wave of writers has emerged whose work is indebted to W.G. Sebald. Sebald’s name, become an adjective (‘Sebaldian’), is often used as shorthand for describing a writer’s approach to history and memory, or his or her use of images alongside word-text, or the presence of a peripatetic narrator, or the rejection of conventional gen ...
Gareth Evans is one of the more interesting figures from the Hawke–Keating governments, not alone as a high achiever in a talented team, nor in the tenacity that saw him remain so long in the inner circle, but unusual in forging a cosmopolitan career of such substance thereafter. His political memoir demonstrates the continuity ...... (read more)
Ilana Snyder reviews 'Required Reading: Literature in Australian schools since 1945' edited by Tim Dolin, Joanne Jones, and Patricia Dowsett
At the heart of Required Reading is a database called ALIAS (Analysis of Literature in Australian Schools). It includes all the reading material prescribed for senior secondary English and Literature courses in most of the states from 1945 to 2005. Like all electronic databases, ALIAS comprises a structured collection of items ...... (read more)
How do people cope with drought, not as an abstraction or singular event but as a lifelong trial? In a bid to answer this question, historian Rebecca Jones elevates an understated, if underrated, historical source for understanding human responses to drought: the humble farm diary. Publishers’ enthusiasm for diaries as authentic ...... (read more)
Two recent collections by two very different voices have both been ‘blurbed’ as works of fragmentation. In her début collection, Cassie Lewis is described as speaking for ‘a generation whose ambitions and emotions have become very fractured and fragmented’. Eddie Paterson’s new book is full of redacted texts of digital trash and treasure; it is a blacked- ...
Seumas Spark reviews 'The Shadow Men: The leaders who shaped the Australian Army from the Veldt to Vietnam' edited by Craig Stockings and John Connor
First, a quibble. In the first paragraph of his introduction, John Connor writes that few Australians could ‘name a significant figure of the Australian Army’, John Monash and Simpson (and his donkey) aside. I am less sure. A generation after his death, Edward ‘Weary’ Dunlop remains a familiar name. Two of the past three governors-general, including the incu ...