Biography and Memoirs

Albert O. Hirschman (1915–2012) was a development economist and political theorist whose work is essential reading for anyone interested in understanding how economic life figures in the political worlds we inhabit and the ways in which we give meaning to our lives in market-based societies. Perhaps best known for the distinction between ‘exit’ and ‘voice’ ...

Sheila Fitzpatrick reviews 'A Spy among Friends'

Sheila Fitzpatrick
Monday, 25 August 2014

Harold Adrian Russell (Kim) Philby was the Third Man of the notorious Cambridge spy network set up in the 1930s and partially unmasked in the early 1950s, when Guy Burgess and Donald Maclean fled to Moscow. He had been in British intelligence (MI6) since the beginning of the war, but had been working for Soviet intelligence for some years before that. A high-flyer, ...

Ian Donaldson reviews 'Music at Midnight'

Ian Donaldson
Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Disdaining the opening moves traditionally associated with literary biography – the expected orderly progress through ancestry, parentage, birth, schooling, juvenilia – John Drury’s masterly new account of the life and poetry of George Herbert begins instead with the poem that Drury sees as Herbert’s finest work, written in mid-career, ‘Love (III)’. Herb ...

Miriam Cosic reviews the biography of 'Wilhelm II'

Miriam Cosic
Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Wilhelm II, German Kaiser and King of Prussia, may be a shadowy figure for Australian readers, better known as the butt of funny-scary caricatures in British World War I propaganda or of black humour in popular soldiers’ songs, than as a political player in his own right. He remains enigmatic even for scholars. Some hand him the burden of responsibility for World ...

Eleanor Hogan reviews the musical journey of 'Cadence'

Eleanor Hogan
Tuesday, 22 July 2014

To take to the road on a bike, especially if you are a solo female cyclist, is to make yourself vulnerable, submitting yourself to hours of muscle-taxing solitude and reliance on the kindness of strangers. But while slower and physically more arduous than other modes of transport, cycling brings you closer to your surroundings. It offers different perspectives and u ...

When I was commissioned to write this review, I assumed that this book would be a conventional political biography. I looked forward to reading about Dunstan’s career as premier of South Australia (1967–68 and 1970–79), as his record of achievements showed that our states and territories have the potential to be powerful players in social and cultural reform. ...

Sheila Fitzpatrick reviews Biff Ward's 'In My Mother's Hands'

Sheila Fitzpatrick
Tuesday, 22 July 2014

For anyone who has ever complained about a difficult mother, or written a memoir about one, this is a humbling book. How trivial, by comparison, our complaints seem. The subtitle promises (or threatens) a disturbing memoir, and so it is. I found it difficult to get out of my head days after reading it.

Biff (born Elizabeth in 1942) Ward was the second child ...

Peter Hill: The fecundity of Lucian Freud

Peter Hill
Wednesday, 28 May 2014

He painted Kate Moss naked. The Kray twins threatened to cut off his painting hand over bad gambling debts. He was officially recognised as father to fourteen children by numerous partners, but the unofficial tally could be as high as forty (three were born to different mothers within a few months). He is Lucian Freud, grandson of Sigmund Freud, born in Berlin on 8 ...

Jeremy Fisher: a critical biography of Gerald Glaskin

Jeremy Fisher
Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Never heard of him – that’s the most common reaction when I mention Gerry Glaskin. Some Western Australians remember him, as they should: he was born and spent his last years there. Yet in between he was a bestselling novelist in the 1950s and 1960s. He was translated into French, German, Swedish, Russian, Spanish, Dutch, Italian, Danish, and Norwegian. Doubleda ...

Colin Steele: An Oxford don on his prolific past

Colin Steele
Wednesday, 28 May 2014

John Carey’s The Unexpected Professor: An Oxford Life in Books has three intertwined components: autobiographical memories from Carey, a prolific author and book reviewer and former Merton Professor of English Literature at Oxford; his six-decade interaction with that university; and ‘English literature and me, how we met, how we got on, what came of it ...