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
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
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 own dogmatism sometimes limits his diplomatic engagements.
His latest offering, A Rightful Place, outlines his manifesto for indigenous constitutional recognition. ... More
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 that delusion is widespread. This book is a reminder of the inconvenient truth that should be informing our leaders, as well as an excellent analysis of the way public understanding ... More
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
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
North Korea always gets media attention for negative reasons: a border skirmish with its southern neighbour; a missile trial launch or nuclear test; vitriolic propaganda attacks on South Korea, Japan, or the United States; or the appalling findings of some human rights group like Michael Kirby’s recent UN Commission of Inquiry on North Korea’s human rights abuse ... More
Peter Mares reviews two memoirs which offer new perspectives on the problems faced by asylum seekers.More
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