Non Fiction

The danger in writing about unfolding dramas is that they keep unfolding, potentially stranding both writer and reader. Not so with these two fine books, whose authors have long experience of the Middle East. Quite different in scope – a sweep of the Arab world contrasting with the ascent and decay of Muammar Gaddafi’s brutal régime – they deal with past, pre ...

Darrell Lewis: A Wild History

John Rickard
Tuesday, 28 August 2012

John Rickard

 

A Wild History: Life and Death on the Victoria River Frontier
by Darrell Lewis
Monash University Publishing, $29.95 pb, 342 pp, 9781921867262

 

Darrell Lewis first encountered the Victoria River District of the Northern Territory in 1971 when he wo ...

Peter Rose on Remembering Gore Vidal

Peter Rose
Monday, 06 August 2012

It was David Marr who commented that the key character in Gore Vidal’s first memoir, Palimpsest (1995), was not Jimmie Trimble, the boy whom Vidal loved when they were at school and who died, aged eighteen, at the battle for Iwo Jima; nor Vidal’s blind and adored maternal grandfather, Senator Thomas Pryor Gore, whom young Gore would lead onto the floor ...

Anne Chisolm on the humiliation of Rupert Murdoch

Anne Chisolm
Tuesday, 10 July 2012

It all began with Prince William’s knee. Not, of course, the phone hacking and bribery and corruption which, as we all now know, was commonplace behaviour in the British tabloid newspapers at the heart of Rupert Murdoch’s media empire – that had been going on for far longer. But when, in November 2005, the News of the World carried a trivial story abo ...

So many art books! And too many of them remainder-table compendiums of famous images thinly draped with text. It is refreshing, then, to rediscover an artist who has fallen into the slough that often follows a lifetime flush of reputation, and an art historian tenacious enough to resurrect that artist’s work and milieu.

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This volume from musician, writer, and satirist Justin Heazlewood (‘The Bedroom Philosopher’) collects seven years of touring diaries from a performer well known for maintaining an ironic distance in singles such as ‘I’m So Post Modern’ and ‘Northcote (So Hungover)’ ...

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Neal Blewett on 'Thinking the Twentieth Century'

Neal Blewett
Monday, 28 May 2012

This author, this book, and its composition are all extraordinary. Tony Judt, one of the most distinguished historians of his generation, made his name with studies of French intellectual history, then in 2005 he published his masterwork, Postwar: A History of Europe Since 1945. ...

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Miles Franklin loosens up

Patrick Allington
Monday, 28 May 2012

Soon after the announcement of the shortlist of this year’s Miles Franklin Literary Award (‘the Miles’), bookmaker Tom Waterhouse installed Anna Funder’s All That I Am (2011) as favourite. Fair enough, too: it’s an astute and absorbing Australian novel about, among other things, Nazism’s long shadow. But Waterhouse favoured Funder – oddly – ...

Brenda Niall reviews 'University Unlimited'

Brenda Niall
Thursday, 24 May 2012

For a young academic in need of a job, 1964 was a lucky time. After three pioneering years with small enrolments, Monash University was bracing itself for the first big influx of postwar baby boomers. Above the flat and muddy stretches of Clayton farmland, where Wellington boots had been the footwear of choice, the first tall buildings were emerging. The Arts wing o ...

Any recent ‘big picture’ church history will suffer by comparison with Diarmaid MacCulloch’s A History of Christianity (2009). That book discovers all manner of new evidence about this protean religion and opens up questions about its life in every age and across every continent. Even its subtitle, The First Three Thousand Years, wants us to appreciate that Christianity has to be understood through its origins in the Hebrew and Greek cultures of the millennium before Bethlehem. Geoffrey Blainey’s history begins more conventionally with the birth of Jesus.

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