Non Fiction

Andrew Alexandra reviews 'In Defence of War' by Nigel Biggar

Andrew Alexandra
Tuesday, 27 May 2014

This book by Nigel Biggar, Anglican minister and Oxford Professor of Theology, is in the rich and broad tradition of thinking about war known as Just War Theory (JWT). JWT sees war as justifiable, but holds that decisions about going to war, as well as about the way it is fought, are subject to moral constraints ...

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Stephen Atkinson: Indonesia and asylum seekers

Stephen Atkinson
Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Do the ends always justify the means? And if the boats really have stopped coming, should we see the death of Reza Berati and the suffering of thousands as the collateral damage of a successful policy?

Paul Toohey’s panoramic sweep of this human, ethical, and political terrain begins with a visit to Cisarua, a small resort town in the mountains south of Ja ...

Alison Broinowski: Malcolm Fraser on Foreign Policy

Alison Broinowski
Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Coinciding with the World War I anniversaries, Malcolm Fraser’s book will polarise Australian opinion on a fundamental issue. It has never been raised in this way, for Australian leaders have not discussed decisions to go to war in public, nor sought popular approval of Australia’s alliances. Yet successive generations of young Australians have fought in British ...

The missing Somali on the dance floor

Ray Cassin
Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Sometimes the simplest of mistakes reveals far more of our preconceptions about human acts and motives, and about the complex relationships that make a human society, than we could have imagined. Such was the case with what journalist and lawyer Julie Szego dubs the ‘tainted trial’ of Farah Jama, a young Somali man who spent eighteen months in prison for a rape ...

Mossad and the death of Ben Zygier

Simon Collinson
Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Reports about the Mossad often have the unfortunate trait of reading like a John le Carré novel. We hear of spies assuming false identities and injecting poison into the ears of Israel’s enemies, or of a Mossad director beginning his weekly meetings with the question, ‘Who are we going to assassinate today?’ Unfortunately, most of these stories are true. As w ...

Sheila Fitzpatrick on history vs memoir

Sheila Fitzpatrick
Tuesday, 27 May 2014

In Iris Murdoch’s novel, The Sandcastle (1957), a young artist called Rain Carter is commissioned to paint a retired schoolmaster, Demoyte, an eccentric with an offbeat sense of humour. Instead of his usual attire – a shabby red velvet jacket with tobacco stains and bow tie – Demoyte turns up ...

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The LRB of life writing

Ann-Marie Priest
Monday, 26 May 2014
Anne-Marie Priest finds much to enjoy in LRB's new anthology of life writing (Hilary Mantel, Andrew O'Hagan et al.), but wonders about the elastic definition of what constitutes a memoir. ... (read more)

‘Dear Dr Blewett, I am writing to you ... concerning your intention to publish the diary you kept during the first Keating Government ... Whether any legal action, criminal or civil, is initiated would be entirely a matter for the Commonwealth government and relevant authorities ... 

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1984 is back. George Orwell’s nightmare vision of governmental surveillance, secrecy, and deception clearly resonates with the revelations first leaked to the Guardian by former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden. Indeed, it is practically impossible to find an account of the Snowden affair without at least one ‘Orwellian’ adjective ... ... (read more)

Some of the wildly successful historical novels of Richard Harris are counter-factual, like Fatherland (1992), which assumes a successful Nazi invasion of Britain. By contrast, his most recent work, An Officer and a Spy (2013), builds on a highly detailed account of the Dreyfus affair, which convulsed France in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries ...

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