Biography and Memoirs

Simon Caterson reviews 'Truth’s Fool: Derek Freeman and the war over cultural anthropology' by Peter Hempenstall

Simon Caterson
26 March 2018

‘It is hard to reach the truth of these islands,’ observed Robert Louis Stevenson of Samoa in a letter written to a close friend in 1892, two years after the author had moved to an est More

Ian Donaldson reviews 'Simon Leys: Navigator between worlds' by Philippe Paquet, translated by Julie Rose

Ian Donaldson
22 March 2018

The Belgian-born scholar Pierre Ryckmans, more widely known to the world by his adopted name of Simon Leys, was widely hailed in the Australian press at his death in 2014 as ‘one of the More

James McNamara reviews 'How Not To Be A Boy' by Robert Webb and 'This Is Going To Hurt: Secret diaries of a junior doctor' by Adam Kay

James McNamara
24 November 2017

The literary world too often disdains comedy writing as unserious. It rarely features in our grander prizes, and is usually relegated to literature’s cheap seats. This is, of course, sil More

Ceridwen Spark reviews 'The Book of Thistles' by Noëlle Janaczewska

Ceridwen Spark
24 November 2017

Every Saturday around Australia, the suburbs hum with the sound of lawnmowers. While cutting grass, the mowers simultaneously decapitate the milk thistles (also known as sow thistles) that More

Kevin Foster reviews 'The First Casualty' by Peter Greste

Kevin Foster
24 November 2017

It’s a provocative title. Forty-two years ago, Phillip Knightley’s The First Casualty: From the Crimea to Vietnam: The war correspondent as hero, propagandist, and myth-maker  More

Christopher Menz reviews 'Rayner Hoff: The life of a sculptor' by Deborah Beck

Christopher Menz
26 October 2017

Rayner Hoff, the most significant sculptor to work in Australia between the wars, is most admired for his sculptures in the Anzac war memorials in Sydney and Adelaide. His work was in the More

Michael Shmith reviews 'Ernest Newman: A critical biography' by Paul Watt

Michael Shmith
26 October 2017

Recently, the chief classical music critic of The New York Times, Anthony Tommasini, adroitly summarised the nebulous perils of his job: ‘Music, especially purely instrumental m More

Johanna Leggatt reviews 'Whiteley on Trial' by Gabriella Coslovich

Johanna Leggatt
26 October 2017

It was the late Robert Hughes who said that ‘apart from drugs, art is the biggest unregulated market in the world’. Journalist Gabriella Coslovich quotes him in her account of the 2016 More

John Rickard reviews 'The Enigmatic Mr Deakin' by Judith Brett

John Rickard
23 August 2017

There has been an argument going on in the Liberal Party about the nature of the Menzies heritage – was Robert Menzies, the founder of the modern party, a liberal or a conservative? Notably absent from this discussion has been the national figure who was the first leader of a united anti-Labor party and who also happens to have been a father of Federation, Alfred ... More

Simon Caterson reviews 'The Fabulous Flying Mrs Miller: An Australian’s true story of adventure, danger, romance and murder' by Carol Baxter

Simon Caterson
30 April 2017

Among the glittering generation of pioneering aviators and aviatrixes of the 1920s and 1930s, Jessie ‘Chubbie’ Miller stands out as remarkably adventurous. Carol Baxter’s highly readable biography provides an engaging portrait of a young suburban housewife who decided, quite literally, to make her own way in the world. As Baxter acknowledges, for a biographer ... More

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