Politics

Billy Griffiths reviews 'Unholy Fury' by James Curran

Billy Griffiths

I have never met an Aussie I didn’t like.’ The half-compliment was the best President Richard Nixon could muster during a restrained exchange with Prime Minister Gough Whitlam in the Oval Office in July 1973. After the turbulent build-up to this meeting, rivetingly conveyed in James Curran’s history Unholy Fury: Whitlam and Nixon at War, one almost expe ... More

Julian Meyrick, Richard Maltby and Robert Phiddian on culture and cartooning in the age of Je Suis Charlie Hebdo

Julian Meyrick, Richard Maltby, Robert Phiddian

Eminent psychologist Steven Pinker once described art as ‘cheesecake for the mind’. Many people think of culture as a luxury good, high up – and therefore low down – on Mazslow’s hierarchy of needs in comparison with basic physical requirements. Most of the time they are right. When they aren’t, the necessity for a detailed understanding of cultural proc ... More

Ben Saul reviews 'In the Company of Cowards' by Michael Mori

Ben Saul

The unusual case of David Hicks is one of the most spectacular and politically supercharged miscarriages of justice in Australian history. Like the infamous Boer War case of Breaker Morant, Hicks was politically scapegoated and grossly denied a fair trial. Unlike Morant – a war criminal who murdered prisoners of war – even Hicks’s accuser, the United States, n ... More

Tim Colebatch reviews 'Paul Keating' by David Day

Tim Colebatch

Paul Keating has an enduring allure. He has been out of politics since 1996, yet in the past year or so we have seen the ABC screen an unprecedented series of four one-hour interviews with him by an unusually respectful Kerry O’Brien; a book of his sayings still sells well, his speeches and pronouncements receive wide publicity, and now historian David Day has giv ... More

David Donaldson reviews 'Revolution' by Russell Brand

David Donaldson

Russell Brand made headlines when he revealed in an animated interview with Jeremy Paxman that he had never voted. Fresh from guest-editing an issue of New Statesman, Brand had issued a call to overthrow the system responsible for the income disparities and environmental degradation in the world ... More

Dennis Altman reviews 'Northern Lights' by Andrew Scott

Dennis Altman

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

James Walter reviews 'The Menzies Era' by John Howard

James Walter

John Howard has long been concerned with countering what he regards as the domination of Australian historical writing by the left. His project was initiated before he gained the prime ministership, most notably in his Menzies Lecture of 1996, in which he claimed that most of the distinctiveness and achievements of Australian politics were grounded in the liberal tr ... More

Shane Carmody reviews 'Clivosaurus' Guy Rundle

Shane Carmody

Guy Rundle ends his engrossing account of Clive Palmer with a disclaimer: ‘Knowing Clive, he will contradict everything asserted in this essay in the two weeks between its going to press and hitting the bookstands.’ Since the publication of this essay, Palmer has not contradicted the assertions of the essay, but his party has been challenged. Senator Jacqui Lamb ... More

Lyndon Megarrity reviews 'Kevin Rudd' by Patrick Weller

Lyndon Megarrity

In modern Australia, politics and public policy appear to reflect a narrow range of managerial, political, and economic opinions. Even the much publicised ‘listening tours’ conducted by politicians seem designed to show that they are sensitive to community concerns, but not so sensitive as to want to change policy direction. What makes current discussion of poli ... More

Geoffrey Blainey reviews 'Dick Hamer' by Tim Colebatch

Geoffrey Blainey

Rupert (‘Dick’) Hamer proved to be one of Australia’s most innovative premiers. One sign of his unusual prestige is that this history of his life and times has perhaps been publicly praised more by Labor leaders than by his own Liberal colleagues.

Hamer’s family background was in the church, law, business, and politics. His paternal grandfather was t ... More

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