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The Story of Gallipoli by Bill Gammage, based on the screenplay by David Williamson

June 1982, no. 41

People tell you one week that they liked Gallipoli, but the next they’re not so sure. Gone are the days of intuitive gut felt reaction – everyone wants to make sure their judgements are intellectually sound. They read every ‘expert’ on the subject and come back with another opinion. Reading the script gives you another variation. The skeleton is there, warts and all.

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Kathryn Cole’s book sets out by means of thirteen contributions to evaluate ‘two assertions about trade unions (which) are pervasive’. These are that they are very or too powerful, and that they are usually the aggressors in industrial disputes. Its conclusion is that unions are more sinned against than sinning, or, to paraphrase the words of Evelyn Waugh in Brideshead Revisited describing Lady Marchmain, ‘they are saintly without being saints’.

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There nine stories in this volume are rich in people, satire, compassion, and humour. And set like ambushes, unexpected and surprising, are several cameos. It is a captivating, ensnaring book, but to call it a book of short stories would be so inadequate as to be misleading. There is an uncommon coherence, slender but powerful enough to raise it above that easy classification.

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