Non Fiction

Michael Shmith reviews 'Rules of Engagement' by Kim Williams

Michael Shmith
Monday, 24 November 2014

What this is not, as Kim Williams is quick to tell us (introduction, paragraph two), is a dog-bites-Murdoch account of that nasty business in August 2013 that saw Williams summarily ousted as chief executive of News Corp Australia. Other disgruntled former Ruprechtian courtiers such as former editor-in-chief of The Herald Sun Bruce Guthrie, who sought and won ...

Delia Falconer reviews 'What Days Are For' by Robert Dessaix

Delia Falconer
Monday, 24 November 2014

Robert Dessaix’s authorial voice reminds me of Christina Stead’s description of a small, clear wave running up a beach at low tide, playfully ‘ringing its air-bells’. He is not a writer of direct, declarative prose. Instead, Dessaix specialises in sentences that skip over and around their subjects, sometimes darting nimbly into brackets to investigate a seco ...

During a visit to Adelaide in 2013 as a keynote speaker at the Australasian Centre for Italian Studies ‘Re-imagining Italian Studies’ conference, Professor Martin McLaughlin (Agnelli-Serena Professor of Italian Studies and Fellow of Magdalen College) made the following observation about Clive James’s translation of The Divine Comedy:

There are m ...

Bettina Jordan-Barber will soon face trial for receiving around £100,000 over nine years from the Sun newspaper for supplying information while she was an official in the Ministry of Defence. Both the prosecution and the defence during the recent UK ‘phone hacking’ trial accepted that the payments had been made, and that Rebekah Brooks, while she was edi ...

Phillip Deery reviews 'The Spy Catchers' by David Horner

Phillip Deery
Friday, 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 ...

Neal Blewett reviews 'My Story' by Julia Gillard

Neal Blewett
Friday, 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 ...

Crusader Hillis reviews 'Lesbian for a Year' by Brooke Hemphill

Crusader Hillis
Friday, 31 October 2014

Brooke Hemphill knows hers was not meant to be an ordinary existence, yet by her early twenties she is engaged and planning the perfect wedding – with the wrong guy. She breaks it off and moves in with a married man. He, too, is wrong for her. She works on an island resort and falls for another, but he takes off for Europe. She travels to the United States and wor ...

Not many substantial private collections of art and decorative arts in Australia have remained intact from the nineteenth century. John Twycross (1819–89) was one of Melbourne’s early art collectors, and his collection has proved to be an exception. Twycross, lured there by the gold rush, made his money as a merchant in Melbourne in the middle of the nineteenth ...

Bruce Moore reviews 'Authorisms' by Paul Dickson

Bruce Moore
Friday, 31 October 2014

American Paul Dickson has written many books on aspects of language, including Words from the White House (2013). He also claims to have invented some fifty words, although he admits that only two of these have any real chance of becoming ‘household words’: word word ‘a word that is repeated to distinguish it ...

Robyn Williams reviews 'Smashing Physics' by Jon Butterworth

Robyn Williams
Friday, 31 October 2014

I must let you into a secret. I have three different ways of reading books: lightning fast, with serene attention; and, as with Smashing Physics, postmodern.

The fast mode is forced by unavoidable professional requirements. This week, for example, I received a (thankfully) slim volume just hours before having to record a satellite interview wit ...

Page 14 of 65