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Joshua Black

Joshua Black is a political historian based at ANU. His PhD thesis was a history of political memoirs in Australia. He is the administrative officer of the Australian Historical Association.

'Nemesis: A morbidly fascinating ABC docuseries' by Joshua Black

ABR Arts 15 February 2024
Each episode of Nemesis, the ABC’s morbidly fascinating three-part retrospective series on the Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison governments of 2013-22, begins with a word association game. The ensemble of parliamentarians and former ministers is asked to describe the three featured prime ministers in a single word. Tony Abbott is called, among other things, ‘strong’, ‘negative’, ‘clever’, ... (read more)

Joshua Black reviews 'I Am Tim: Life, politics and beyond' by Peter Rees

November 2023, no. 459 27 August 2023
Journalist Peter Rees’s biography of Tim Fischer was originally published by Allen & Unwin in 2001 with the title The Boy from Boree Creek. Reviewing the volume in this magazine, fellow journalist Shaun Carney had many kind words for Fischer, but said that the book was ‘either a lesson in the wonders of our democracy or a cautionary tale demonstrating the mediocrity of our public figures ... (read more)

'John Farnham: Finding the voice: Beyond ‘Sadie the Cleaning Lady’' by Joshua Black

ABR Arts 05 June 2023
John Farnham nearly missed the launch party for his most successful album, Whispering Jack (1986) – he was stuck on a couch in a foetal position. He was under immense pressure. His three-year stint as lead singer of Little River Band (LRB) had left him saddled with some of LRB's existing debt. Whispering Jack was clearly his last chance to show the world the kind of artist he thought he could be ... (read more)

Joshua Black reviews 'Plagued: Australia’s two years of hell – the inside story' by Simon Benson and Geoff Chambers

November 2022, no. 448 09 September 2022
Scott Morrison needn’t waste time writing a political memoir: the work of self-vindication has already been attempted on his behalf by Simon Benson and Geoff Chambers, both columnists at The Australian, in their now highly controversial book Plagued: Australia’s two years of hell – the inside story. Theirs is a largely heroic story about Morrison’s leadership, which ‘served the nation we ... (read more)

Joshua Black reviews 'Cathy Goes to Canberra: Doing politics differently' by Cathy McGowan

January–February 2021, no. 428 16 December 2020
‘Orange balloons. Orange streamers. Orange shirts.’ Cathy McGowan’s memoir is saturated and literally wrapped in the colour. Cathy Goes to Canberra begins with an account of the election of her independent successor as Member for Indi, Dr Helen Haines, in May 2019 – ‘with orange everywhere’. For McGowan, this hue was a symbolic way of differentiating herself and her model of politics ... (read more)

'After the waves: A tribute to a pioneering Labor feminist' by Joshua Black

November 2020, no. 426 22 October 2020
Susan Ryan was a formidable storyteller. Her stories communicated her values and her world view, her commitment to the pursuit of a more egalitarian society. Hers was a powerful form of communication, capable of questioning and challenging the inadequacies of the masculinist, class-exclusive ‘fair go’ of postwar Australian society. Two weeks before her death on September 27, I spoke to Ryan v ... (read more)

Josh Black reviews 'Ten Doors Down: The story of an extraordinary adoption reunion' by Robert Tickner

April 2020, no. 420 20 March 2020
Twenty years ago, Robert Tickner tried his hand at the nuanced art of political memoir. Taking a Stand (2001) was, he said, ‘an insider’s account of momentous initiatives’ in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs portfolio in the 1990s. A portrait of the politician as a young man, son, father, and husband was not in the offing. Cabinet diarist Neal Blewett, a man not renowned for ... (read more)