Politics

David Day reviews 'Inside the Hawke–Keating Government' by Gareth Evans

David Day
25 November 2014

Gough Whitlam was fond of replying to requests for interviews from historians by saying that all the answers could be found in the archives. ‘Go to the documents, comrade’, was his refrain. However, official documents rarely tell the whole story, particularly those from the modern era, whose authors are conscious that their words could so easily be exposed to pu ... More

Phillip Deery reviews 'The Spy Catchers' by David Horner

Phillip Deery
21 November 2014

In the interests of national security, my luggage was recently searched at Los Angeles airport. The culprit: Spy Catchers. The uncorrected proof copy was so bulky that it triggered an alert. I declined to tell the Customs and Border Protection officer (in no mood for irony) that one chapter in the offending item was entitled ‘Keeping out Undesirables’. Da ... More

Neal Blewett reviews 'My Story' by Julia Gillard

Neal Blewett
21 November 2014

Much like her government, Julia Gillard’s memoir resembles the proverbial curate’s egg. Where her passions are involved, as with education (‘Our Children’) or the fair work laws, we are provided with a compelling policy read. Where they are not, as in large slabs of foreign policy, the insightful competes with the pedestrian, enlivened admittedly with her pe ... More

Sheila Fitzpatrick reviews 'Red Apple' by Phillip Deery

Sheila Fitzpatrick
31 October 2014

This book is about a moral panic resulting in the deployment of huge police and bureaucratic resources to ruin the lives of some unlucky individuals who were, or seemed to be, Communist Party members or sympathisers. None of Deery’s cases seems to have been doing anything that posed an actual threat to the US government or population; that, at least, is how it loo ... More

Stephen Mills reviews 'The Myth of the Strong Leader' by Archie Brown

Stephen Mills
31 October 2014

A remarkable feature of the concept of political leadership is its apparently infinite elasticity: it stretches over presidents and prime ministers, dictators and popes, revolutionaries and reformers. Take the concept beyond politics, and its reach effortlessly expands to include business executives, platoon commanders, primary school principals, the captain of the ... More

James Walter reviews Paul Kelly's 'Triumph and Demise'

James Walter
30 October 2014

Paul Kelly’s considerable research ability, enviable political knowledge, narrative skill, and indulgence in polemics all figure in his new book. The former qualities make it a must-read for the politically engaged; the latter is so pronounced that such readers may succumb to frustration and throw the book at the wall before reaching the valuable final chapter whe ... More

Jon Altman reviews 'A Rightful Place (Quarterly Essay 55)' by Noel Pearson

Jon Altman
29 October 2014

Whether you love or hate lawyer–activist Noel Pearson’s ideas, you have to admire his chutzpah, his willingness to put his ideas out there for public discussion and debate, even if his More

Ian Lowe reviews 'Collision Course: Endless growth on a finite planet' by Kerryn Higgs

Ian Lowe
27 October 2014

This clear and cogent book is an important wake-up call. It should not need saying that it is impossible for human populations and economies to grow without limit on a finite planet, but t More

Dennis Altman reviews Bob Brown's memoir 'Optimism'

Dennis Altman
27 October 2014

There is a built-in paradox for the Greens: they need to both persuade people that we face major ecological disasters and at the same time hold out hope that we can respond meaningfully to them. To do this requires the sort of corny and touching optimism that gives Bob Brown’s book its title.

Optimism is neither a conventional memoir nor a political ... More

Tim Byrne reviews 'Dirty Secrets'

Tim Byrne
25 September 2014

The German film The Lives of Others (2006) ends with a coda, set after the fall of the Berlin Wall, in which protagonist Georg Dreyman is finally allowed access to the volumes of secret files collected on him by the Stasi. Apart from the sheer number, what strikes Georg most is the utter banality of the information contained within. It is a familiar reaction ... More

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