Society

Ray Cassin on The Life of Pope Pius XII

Ray Cassin
27 May 2013

Not the least portent of change in the Catholic Church since the Argentine Jesuit Jorge Bergoglio was elected as Pope Francis earlier this year has been mounting speculation that the new pontiff will disclose all documents in the Vatican archives concerning the most controversial of his twentieth-century predecessors, Eugenio Pacelli, who reigned as Pius XII from 19 ... More

Gillian Terzis on 'Loving This Planet'

Gillian Terzis
27 May 2013

In a world punctuated by civil and global conflict, it seems almost quaint to promote peace as a weapon of choice. Even in more progressive quarters, an explicit identification with pacifism seems to evoke nostalgia for a time when the enemy was obvious and the mission supposedly self-evident. But in recent decades the threat has become more nebulous, as has the rel ... More

Daniel Herborn reviews 'Every Parent’s Nightmare'

Daniel Herborn
26 May 2013

Like the best examples of true crime books, Every Parent’s Nightmare goes far beyond the tragedy at its centre and places it in its socio-economic context. Belinda Hawkins details how a death in Bulgaria back in 2007 became a highly politicised incident, and offers a convincing explanation as to why the trial was so sloppy and one-sided.

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Gillian Terzis on Al Gore's 'The Future'

Gillian Terzis
25 March 2013

Confronting the void that awaits any failed US presidential nominee is a tough gig. Short shrift is given to those who have come so far, only to fall short at the last hurdle. Take Bob Dole, who became a shill for Viagra in the late 1990s after losing to Bill Clinton. God knows what the future holds for Mitt Romney. But there are also success stories. Jimmy Ca ... More

Jay Daniel Thompson reviews 'Speaking Secrets'

Jay Daniel Thompson
08 March 2013

In Speaking Secrets, academic and journalist Sue Joseph looks at what happens when sex becomes ‘public property’, and interviews a range of Australians who have had often traumatic sex and sexuality-related experiences aired to a wide audience through the media. Some of her interviewees are well known, others are not. Several discuss their experienc ... More

Harry Brumpton on 'Joyful Strains: Making Australia Home'

Harry Brumpton
06 March 2013

If you are a new arrival, welcome to Australia. You will be living in a country that is stable, prosperous and democratic. You will also be joining a culturally diverse but cohesive society made up of Australians of many backgrounds, united by shared values and responsibilities.

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Gillian Terzis reviews 'Fallout from Fukushima'

Gillian Terzis
29 January 2013

In the aftermath of Chernobyl it is hard not to see nuclear disaster as the muse of abject horror. The degree of uncertainty surrounding life after catastrophe – genetic mutation, contaminated food supplies, mass displacement of townships – is unfathomable for governments and citizens alike. At a time when the need for accurate information is at its greatest, mi ... More

Richard Broinowski on two titles exploring Sydney University

Richard Broinowski
26 November 2012

When I became an adjunct professor at the University of Sydney in 2004, I knew nothing of its history, and little of the ideological battles that had taken place there. These two books provide a rich narrative of both, and made me appreciate the privilege I have, even as a marginal player, in belonging to such a significant institution.

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Neal Blewett on Gough Whitlam's biography

Neal Blewett
28 October 2012

Jenny Hocking concluded the first volume of her Whitlam biography (2008) on the eve of her subject’s electoral victory in December 1972. Gough Whitlam had been the most effective and creative opposition leader in Australian history: since 1967 he had dragged a protesting Labor party into the second half of the twentieth century; provided the party with a contempor ... More

Jan McGuinness reviews two biographies of Gina Rinehart

Jan McGuinness
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 ... More

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