Biography and Memoirs

Susan Magarey reviews Ann Moyal's new memoir

Susan Magarey
26 August 2014

Ann Moyal was born in 1926, so now she is heading towards her ninetieth birthday. She has already launched a work of autobiography into the world, written in her mid-sixties. But her life did not, then, ‘take a quieter turn’. On the contrary, she tells us, ‘I’d continued to spend my ageing life with passion, involvement, and intensity.’ And that has inspir ... More

Doug Wallen reviews 'Elvis has left the building'

Doug Wallen
26 August 2014

Usually the subject’s death signals the end of a biography, but for Dylan Jones it is the starting point. Three decades after his death in 1977, Elvis Presley has proven even more ubiquitous, and lucrative, than he was in life. When he died – with the official cause listed as heart failure, but a vast cocktail of drugs playing an undeniable role – his manager, ... More

Kári Gíslason reviews a new biography of Hans Christian Andersen

Kári Gíslason
26 August 2014

How a writer bears witness to his age is necessarily the expression of many things, not least the possibly quite peculiar nature of an author’s life. Literary works often emerge from complex upbringings, from periods of youthful isolation spent reading and writing. More still seem to have been written as a result of the fraught relationships that befall authors, p ... More

Adrian Walsh reviews 'The Essential Hirschman' and his biography

Adrian Walsh
25 August 2014

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’ ... More

Sheila Fitzpatrick reviews 'A Spy among Friends'

Sheila Fitzpatrick
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, ... More

Ian Donaldson reviews 'Music at Midnight'

Ian Donaldson
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 ... More

Miriam Cosic reviews the biography of 'Wilhelm II'

Miriam Cosic
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 ... More

Eleanor Hogan reviews the musical journey of 'Cadence'

Eleanor Hogan
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 ... More

Lyndon Megarrity reviews the new political biography of Don Dunstan

Lyndon Megarrity
22 July 2014

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. ... More

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

Sheila Fitzpatrick
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 ... More

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