Non Fiction

Brenda Niall reviews 'Loving Words: Love letters of Nettie and Vance Palmer 1909–1914' by Deborah Jordan

Brenda Niall
23 August 2018

When Vance Palmer met Nettie Higgins in the summer of 1909 in the sedate setting of the State Library of Victoria, they were both twenty-three years old. Yet even to speak to one another w More

Clare Corbould reviews 'Atticus Finch: The biography' by Joseph Crespino

Clare Corbould
23 August 2018

When I taught African American history at the University of Sydney, students read the words of Booker T. Washington, Ida B. Wells, Marcus Garvey, and Martin Luther King Jr. They discussed More

Kári Gíslason reviews 'Scandinavians: In search of the soul of the North' by Robert Ferguson

Kári Gíslason
06 December 2017

When I was twenty-seven, I visited mainland Scandinavia for the first time. I had spent the last of my travel money on a rail pass, and I was on a tight budget. One day, I thought I would More

John Funder reviews 'We’re all going to die' by Leah Kaminsky

John Funder
28 February 2017

Good general practice is the cornerstone of a good healthcare system: Australia is blessed with both. Leah Kaminsky has been a Melbourne general practitioner for three decades and by her own explicit admission wrote We’re All Going to Die as a way to address her own fear of death. Her beloved mother was ‘the only leaf left dangling from her charred fami ... More

Bruce Moore reviews 'The Word Detective: A life in words, from Serendipity to Selfie' by John Simpson

Bruce Moore
28 February 2017

What does a lexicographer do? How do you become a lexicographer? What makes a good lexicographer? What is the difference between a ‘standard’ dictionary and a dictionary based on historical principles? How do you reinvent the Oxford English Dictionary so that it has a secure place in an online modern publishing world? These are among the questions explo ... More

Andrea Goldsmith reviews 'Berlin for Jews: A twenty-first-century companion' by Leonard Barkan

Andrea Goldsmith
28 February 2017

The title of this book has a resonance that would not occur, for example, in a text called ‘Paris for Jews’. Most readers will approach the work with understandings and expectations shaped by Hitler and the Holocaust. The title suggests that Berlin is a different city for Jews than for other visitors, and that Jewish Berlin itself is different from ecumenical Be ... More

Robert Reynolds reviews 'Getting Away with Murder' by Duncan McNab

Robert Reynolds
28 February 2017

The rash of unsolved murders of gay men along the Sydney coastline during the 1980s and early 1990s has been in the news again. In 2013, Australian Story ran a feature on the quest of American Steve Johnson to have the coronial ruling of suicide overturned for his younger brother Scott, who died at North Head in 1988. Lateline followed up ... More

James McNamara reviews 'Television: A Biography' by David Thomson

James McNamara
28 February 2017

Great books have been written on television. David Thomson’s Television: A biography is not among them. This surprises me, because Thomson is one of America’s most lauded film critics. To have his thoughts on television over the sweep of its history, viewed through his decades of experience, seemed a boon to me – a critic born in 1982. But Televis ... More

Duncan Fardon reviews 'Scoundrel Days: A memoir' by Brentley Frazer

Duncan Fardon
24 February 2017

Brentley Frazer, one of many scoundrels in his memoir Scoundrel Days, documents coming of age on the boundary of civilisation. His father’s vocation as the only policeman in a small northern Queensland mining town subjects Frazer to a chaotic side of life: a lockup only a stone’s throw from his bedroom; housing criminals and murderous poachers; bloodied ... More

Glyn Davis reviews 'The Best Australian Essays 2016' edited by Geordie Williamson

Glyn Davis
24 February 2017

An annual challenge: how to select essays which capture the moment but live beyond the immediate?

For some, rigour matters. The series editor for The Best American Essays invites magazine editors and writers to submit contributions to a Boston postal address. The rules are strict: an essay is a literary work that shows ‘an awareness of craft and f ... More

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