Politics

Lyndon Megarrity reviews 'Kevin Rudd' by Patrick Weller

Lyndon Megarrity
16 December 2014

In modern Australia, politics and public policy appear to reflect a narrow range of managerial, political, and economic opinions. Even the much publicised ‘listening tours’ conducted by politicians seem designed to show that they are sensitive to community concerns, but not so sensitive as to want to change policy direction. What makes current discussion of poli ... More

Geoffrey Blainey reviews 'Dick Hamer' by Tim Colebatch

Geoffrey Blainey
15 December 2014

Rupert (‘Dick’) Hamer proved to be one of Australia’s most innovative premiers. One sign of his unusual prestige is that this history of his life and times has perhaps been publicly praised more by Labor leaders than by his own Liberal colleagues.

Hamer’s family background was in the church, law, business, and politics. His paternal grandfather was t ... More

Mark Triffitt reviews 'Political Order and Political Decay' by Francis Fukuyama

Mark Triffitt
15 December 2014

Forget the cliché about a week being a long time in politics. Two decades in this super-speed, globalised age is more than enough time, it seems, for even the ‘best’ political system to go pear-shaped.

A growing number of books in recent times have focused on the current travails of Western-style liberal democracy. Its litany of dysfunctions includes co ... More

James McNamara reviews 'Political Animal: Gore Vidal on Power' by Heather Neilson

James McNamara
26 November 2014

American writer Gore Vidal was an intimate of political power. His grandfather was a US senator; his father served as Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Director of Air Commerce. When his mother re More

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

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