Biography and Memoirs

Chris Wallace-Crabbe on the new biography of Davis McCaughey

Chris Wallace-Crabbe
Wednesday, 28 November 2012

State governors hold a curious role across Australia, one that will be called into question when – one of these fine days, but none too soon – our nation becomes a republic. There will be lots of fine-tuning to be done before that, from the roles of Her Majesty’s representatives here all the way down to Royal Park, Royal Melbourne Golf Club, and the RACV. But ...

One day in 1984, Leonard Cohen played his latest album to Walter Yetnikoff, the head of the music division of Cohen’s record label, Columbia. Yetnikoff listened to the album, and then said, ‘Leonard, we know you’re great, we just don’t know if you are any good.’ Columbia subsequently decided against releasing the album, Various Positions (1985), in ...

Sally Burton on 'The Remarkable Life of Julia Child'

Sally Burton
Wednesday, 28 November 2012

One day as I was reviewing this book in London, I happened to turn on the television, only to discover that BBC One now features three hours of cooking programs on Saturday mornings – very appropriate when one is reading a biography of the woman who changed American eating habits. When you are not watching the likes of Michel Roux demonstrating how quickly he can ...

Brian Matthews reviews 'On Warne'

Brian Matthews
Tuesday, 27 November 2012

In his The Art of Wrist-Spin Bowling (1995), Peter Philpott remarks: ‘If there is one factor in spin bowling which all spinners should accept … it is the concept that the ball should be spun hard. Not rolled, not gently turned, but flicked, ripped, fizzed.’ Richie Benaud agrees: ‘Spin it fiercely. Spin it hard.’ The intensity of the grip that produc ...

Kári Gíslason on the new biography of Strindberg

Kári Gíslason
Tuesday, 27 November 2012

One way of classifying biographies is to divide them into those that apply their own interpretative framework – be it psychoanalytic, gender-based, socio-historical, and so on – to a given subject and those that aim to meet the subject, on their own terms, or at least in terms that the subject would recognise. There are good and bad things to say about both appr ...

In 2008 I was asked to write speeches for then-Prime Minister Kevin Rudd. It was a tempting offer. The trouble was that I would be based in the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet (PM&C), not the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), and would work as a public servant, not a political staffer ...

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Broomstick: Personal Reflections of Leonie Kramer has been some years in the writing, and is published now only with the assistance of Leonie Kramer’s friends, former colleagues, and daughters, with the delay ultimately due, the Preface informs us, to the progression of the author’s dementia. As the memoir of a very public figure whose name and decisive a ...

Brian Matthews reviews 'Montebello: A Memoir'

Brian Matthews
Thursday, 25 October 2012

Robert Drewe’s first memoir, The Shark Net (2000) – an account of ‘memories and murder’ – opens in the transforming ‘different sunlight’ of a courtroom, a light that seems ‘harsher, dustier, more ancient looking’, making the figure in the dock somehow ‘uglier, smaller’, ‘like a criminal in a B-movie’, the very ‘stereotype of a croo ...

Jan McGuinness reviews two biographies of Gina Rinehart

Jan McGuinness
Thursday, 25 October 2012

Reading two books about Gina Rinehart back to back is far from edifying. So rich, so controlling, so opinionated, so entitled – and these are among her less objectionable qualities, as described in the two biographies published since she burst into the headlines amid reports of family litigation, media buy-ins, and escalating wealth. Indeed, whatever she did would ...

Peter Heerey reviews 'The Years of Lyndon Johnson'

Peter Heerey
Thursday, 25 October 2012

In Australia today, Lyndon Baines Johnson (1908–73) seems a fleeting figure on history’s stage: a brief interlude between Kennedy’s Camelot and Nixon’s Watergate – ‘All the way with LBJ!’ – the retreat from quagmire Vietnam – and that’s about it. So how does one justify buying and reading Robert A. Caro’s seven hundred-page book (dubbed ‘bloa ...