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Tanya Plibersek

In early March 2023, Tanya Plibersek fronted an audience at the Australian National University to question historian Chris Wallace about her newly released account of twentieth-century prime ministers and their biographers. Coming shortly before the publication of Margaret Simons’s biography of her, Plibersek’s interest in the dynamics of writing about a living, breathing, vote-seeking politician seemed prompted by more than mere professional courtesy. ‘It’s like building a golem, in the shape of a person, in a way, isn’t it?’ she remarked. ‘And then you’re putting magic into it and animating it. It comes out of the mud.’

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What Happens Next? edited by Emma Dawson and Janet McCalman & Upturn by Tanya Plibersek

December 2020, no. 427

What is to be done? The question is asked whenever humankind confronts a new crisis. And the answers, whether from biblical sources, Tolstoy, or Lenin (or indeed Barry Jones in his imminent book, What Is To Be Done?), must confront universal moral quandaries at the same time as they address local needs, hopes, and aspirations.

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