Future generations of readers will invariably look back in awe at the second decade of twenty-first-century Australian politics for its ridiculous revolving door of prime ministers. Personal and journalistic accounts of this rare instability – Australia had six prime ministers between 2010 and 2018 – have certainly proved a publishing bonanza. Defeated prime ministers publish memoirs as rapidly as journalists and commentators write their chronicles.
Journalist Paddy Manning’s first edition of Born to Rule – written during Tony Abbott’s failing prime ministership and released just weeks after Malcolm Turnbull’s accession in late 2015 – is clearly one of the better accounts. Given that no one from outside the parliament (except perhaps Bob Hawke) had been (for years) more frequently labelled a prime minister-in-waiting than Malcolm Turnbull, the release of a balanced portrait of the brilliant but seemingly irascible Turnbull was perfectly timed with Abbott’s exit.