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?
Plots and Prayers, by The Australian journalist Niki Savva, offers insight into how and why Liberal leader Scott Morrison won an ‘unwinnable’ election, but psephology is not her core mission. Instead, Savva walks us through the Byzantine labyrinth that led to arguably the most traumatic leadership spill in modern Australian politics, which, on 24 August 2018, installed Scott Morrison as Australia’s third prime minister in three years, and the seventh in just over a decade.
Savva offers up fifteen chapters across 400 pages in which she canvasses different versions of events through the eyes of competing protagonists. Knowing how fickle history can be, with both victors and vanquished scrambling to write it – she prepared for this book early. She spoke to key players immediately after Malcolm Turnbull’s demise; she wanted interviews to be ‘fresh’ and ‘raw’. The result is a forensically researched and brutally revealing chronicle of the days and weeks before and after the August coup – one told with the precision of an investigative journalist but in the elegant narrative style that always makes Savva a great read.