How many of us would really want to be prime minister? The road to The Lodge is littered with depressing tales of ambitious politicians abandoning their friends, principles, and even their own authentic voice in order to secure the Top Job. Then, once you’ve fulfilled your life’s ambitions, voters and your own supporters are liable to tire of you and seek a new political hero. Nevertheless, prime ministers become accustomed to the power, public attention, and perks of office; they find it difficult to choose the ‘right time’ to leave office.
Clinging to office is one of the major themes explored in Norman Abjorensen’s The Manner of Their Going, a study of the political and personal factors that have led to each and every prime ministerial exit since 1901. Originally published in 2015, the text has been updated to include Malcolm Turnbull’s defeat in 2018. As a distinguished political scientist, historian, and journalist, Norman Abjorensen brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to the project. The book is well researched and displays a strong awareness of the major works of scholarship on the federal political scene over several decades. However, more intense study of official and private papers at national institutions, such as the National Library of Australia, would have assisted in creating a more original contribution to Australian political history.