Glyn Davis

Glyn Davis

Glyn Davis is CEO of the Paul Ramsay Foundation, and Distinguished Professor of Political Science at ANU. Previously he was Vice-Chancellor of the University of Melbourne (2005–18). His publications include The Australian Policy Handbook (Allen & Unwin, 2007) The Future of Australian Governance (Allen & Unwin, 2000), and Are You Being Served?: State, Citizens and Governance (Allen & Unwin, 2001). He gave the 2010 Boyer Lectures and has most recently published On Life’s Lottery (2021).

Glyn Davis reviews 'Our Own Worst Enemy: The assault from within on modern democracy' by Tom Nichols

April 2022, no. 441 23 March 2022
Glyn Davis reviews 'Our Own Worst Enemy: The assault from within on modern democracy' by Tom Nichols
The reverberations from 6 January 2021 continue. On that day, two thousand or more protesters stormed the Capitol Building in Washington, DC, intending to overturn the formal ballot electing Joe Biden as president of the United States. Waving phones, livestreaming their moves, some called for the execution of politicians, notably Vice President Mike Pence and Speaker Nancy Pelosi. For the first ti ... (read more)

Glyn Davis reviews 'Mad World: Evelyn Waugh and the secrets of Brideshead' by Paula Byrne

March 2010, no. 319 01 March 2010
Glyn Davis reviews 'Mad World: Evelyn Waugh and the secrets of Brideshead' by Paula Byrne
Anthony Blanche stands on the high balcony with a megaphone. With practised stammer he recites The Waste Land to puzzled undergraduates walking below in Christ Church Meadow. ‘How I have surprised them!’ he assures the other Old Etonians gathered for languid lunch in Lord Sebastian Flyte’s rooms. In this single image, Evelyn Waugh fixes Blanche in our memories – privilege, aesthetes, the c ... (read more)

Glyn Davis reviews 'The Aristocracy of Talent: How meritocracy made the modern world' by Adrian Wooldridge

November 2021, no. 437 25 October 2021
Glyn Davis reviews 'The Aristocracy of Talent: How meritocracy made the modern world' by Adrian Wooldridge
The Taiping Rebellion was the most disastrous civil war in history. Over fourteen years from 1850, the upheaval claimed the lives of more than thirty million Chinese people – many to violence, more to famine, plague, and displacement as hundreds of cities across the Qing empire were destroyed. Leading the rebellion was Hong Xiuquan, a poor man trying to break into the ranks of the scholar–off ... (read more)

'The legacy of Hugh Stretton: A democratic thinker in the lottery of life' by Glyn Davis

May 2021, no. 431 26 April 2021
Hugh Stretton knew he was a lucky man – someone born well in the lottery of life. Born in 1924, he came into a thoughtful family with a strong record of public service. He was educated at fine private schools and excelled in his arts and legal studies at the University of Melbourne. When war intervened, Stretton served in the navy for three years without suffering injury and then won a Rhodes sc ... (read more)

Glyn Davis reviews 'The Tyranny of Merit: What’s become of the common good?' by Michael J. Sandel and 'Philanthropy: From Aristotle to Zuckerberg' by Paul Vallely

December 2020, no. 427 25 November 2020
Glyn Davis reviews 'The Tyranny of Merit: What’s become of the common good?' by Michael J. Sandel and 'Philanthropy: From Aristotle to Zuckerberg' by Paul Vallely
Save the Children in Stockholm wanted to highlight the unfair distribution of global wealth, so it invented an online game called The Lottery of Life. This invited Swedes to a website to spin the wheel of chance. If you were born again tomorrow, where would you appear? Not in Sweden, it turns out. The chances of being born into this safe, healthy nation, where most children grow to be healthy adu ... (read more)

Glyn Davis reviews 'The New Despotism' by John Keane

June–July 2020, no. 422 18 May 2020
Glyn Davis reviews 'The New Despotism' by John Keane
John Keane is Australia’s leading scholar of democracy, with work that demonstrates an impressive command of global sources. Keane’s most widely cited book, The Life and Death of Democracy (2009), included new research on the origins of public assemblies in India many centuries before the familiar democracy of Greek city-states. Keane located the origins of democracy in non-European traditions ... (read more)

Glyn Davis reviews 'Winds of Change: Britain in the early sixties' by Peter Hennessy

January–February 2020, no. 418 16 December 2019
Glyn Davis reviews 'Winds of Change: Britain in the early sixties' by Peter Hennessy
On 3 October 1962, Hugh Gaitskell rose to address the annual Labour Party Conference in Brighton. He had been Labour leader for nearly a decade and was widely tipped to win the next general election, due within two years. Gaitskell’s message was clear and vivid: Britain must never join the European Economic Community. To do so, he told delegates, would ‘mean the end of a thousand years of hist ... (read more)

Glyn Davis reviews 'Appeasing Hitler: Chamberlain, Churchill and the road to war' by Tim Bouverie

October 2019, no. 415 25 September 2019
Glyn Davis reviews 'Appeasing Hitler: Chamberlain, Churchill and the road to war' by Tim Bouverie
Speechless, Adolf Hitler sat glowering at Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop. Since 1933 the führer had gambled repeatedly that France and Britain would capitulate to his latest demands. Now he tried again, reassured by Ribbentrop (no aristocrat, a vain man who had purchased his title) that the feckless Allies would not intervene if Germany invaded Poland. Yet an ultimatum threatening war ha ... (read more)

Glyn Davis reviews 'American Journeys' by Don Watson

April 2008, no. 300 01 April 2008
Glyn Davis reviews 'American Journeys' by Don Watson
Travel in America is a journey crowded with literary acquaintances. For centuries visitors have striven to make sense of the United States, drawn by its energy, admiring or disturbed by its civic culture. Charles Dickens visited twice, in 1841 and 1867, capturing his observations in American Notes (1842). His experience of American democracy confirmed him a political radical. Novelist Frances Trol ... (read more)

Glyn Davis reviews 'Winners Take All: The elite charade of changing the world' by Anand Giridharadas

June–July 2019, no. 412 23 May 2019
Glyn Davis reviews 'Winners Take All: The elite charade of changing the world' by Anand Giridharadas
‘I’m a rich man, and wanted to give something back. Not the money, but something.’ The Simpsons Movie (2007) From McKinsey analyst to honoured author, New York Times correspondent, familiar face on MSNBC. Awarded a prestigious Henry Crown Fellowship at Aspen, invited onto private planes amid discussion of drinking-water projects in Kenya and improved farm supply chains in India. Not one bu ... (read more)
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