As Andrew Scott points out, Australians have a limited and very clichéd knowledge of the Nordic countries. Recently, we have come to appreciate Scandinavia for its bleak police dramas, of which The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is probably the best known. For the right, Scandinavia has long represented socialist excess, which merges with vague notions of unlim ... More
There is a built-in paradox for the Greens: they need to both persuade people that we face major ecological disasters and at the same time hold out hope that we can respond meaningfully to them. To do this requires the sort of corny and touching optimism that gives Bob Brown’s book its title.
Optimism is neither a conventional memoir nor a political ... More
All writers mine their lives, some most clearly through combining the autobiographical and the fictional, so that, as with Christopher Isherwood, their works become a mixture of the self-revelatory and observations of the worlds in which they have lived. In more recent times, no one has more closely followed Isherwood than Edmund White, now the author of more than t ... More
Michael Fullilove, head of the Lowy Institute, has written about President Roosevelt and the men who helped him to guide the US so reluctantly into World War II. Dennis Altman reviews this model of academic research.< More
Why do you write?
I think we all write out of a mixture of egoism and a need to work out how we understand the world – ‘writing as therapy’. Luckily, I have only rarely felt the need to write to fulfil the demands of academia, which are producing vast amounts of ‘writing’ that benefits no one and is a strain o ... More
During World War II the Australian government constructed a number of internment camps for ‘enemy aliens’, including ones at Tatura (Rushworth) in Victoria, Hay and Cowra in New South Wales, Loveday in South Australia, and Harvey in Western Australia. Most of those interned were German nationals, and the most famous stories are those connected with Jewish refuge ... More
Mark Latham rose to the leadership of the Labor Party unexpectedly, lost the 2004 federal election, retired to sulk from the sidelines, and has done so ever since. Whether he or Graham Richardson has done more damage to the party that nurtured them is a question I leave to the blogosphere. Before Latham became leader in 2003, he published considerably more abo ... More