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Glyn Davis

Glyn Davis

Glyn Davis is Secretary, Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet. He is a former 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 '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
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
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
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
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
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
‘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)

Glyn Davis reviews 'Prime Movers: From Pericles to Gandhi: Twelve great political thinkers and what’s wrong with each of them' by Ferdinand Mount

April 2019, no. 410 25 March 2019
Describe the twelve most influential thinkers who shaped Western political traditions. Chaos must ensue. Your list will be outrageous, but mine also. Consider whom you leave off the roll-call. Just one woman. No one from Africa or Asia. Only Jesus to represent millennia of Jewish thought. Yet books of lists appeal to publishers. Controversy sells. To call a book Prime Movers with the subtitle From ... (read more)

Glyn Davis reviews 'My Country' by David Marr

December 2018, no. 407 12 November 2018
There was excitement. David Marr, newly appointed editor of the National Times at just thirty-three, had agreed to speak with politics students on campus. Volunteers were dispatched to buy the obligatory felafel and cheese, plastic cups, and cask wine, and at 3 pm the famous journalist arrived to address a small but enthusiastic group of undergraduates. ... (read more)

Glyn Davis launches 'The PM Years' by Kevin Rudd

Online Exclusives 24 October 2018
On 23 October 2018, at Parliament House Canberra, Professor Glyn Davis launched the second volume of former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s memoirs, The PM Years. Here is a transcript. ABR is grateful to Professor Davis for allowing us to reproduce his speech. Our review of The PM Years will follow. Neal Blewett reviewed the first volume for ABR.   A decade on … G’day. My name is Glyn Da ... (read more)

Glyn Davis reviews 'The Best Australian Essays 2016' edited by Geordie Williamson

March 2017, no. 389 24 February 2017
An annual challenge: how to select essays which capture the moment but live beyond the immediate? For some, rigour matters. The series editor for The Best American Essays invites magazine editors and writers to submit contributions to a Boston postal address. The rules are strict: an essay is a literary work that shows ‘an awareness of craft and forcefulness of thought’. It must be printed du ... (read more)
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