Non Fiction

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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Newspapers, they say, are in the throes of ‘far-reaching structural change’, a euphemism for ‘extinction’ that arouses complacency in the breasts of the e-literate; fury in those of the technophobes. But one only has to take a slightly longer view to realise that the golden age of newspapers, over which Creighton Burns presided as editor of TheA ...

Glyn Davis Reviews 'What Are Universities For?'

Glyn Davis
Tuesday, 24 April 2012

What happens if we take seriously the metaphor of a marketplace of ideas? Philosopher John Armstrong and economist Carsten Murawski recently tested that question in an article on theconversation.edu.au, by exploring the implications of a market logic for higher education (20 March 2012).They argued that student choice would remodel the teaching and research agendas ...

Robin Prior reviews 'Anzac’s Dirty Dozen'

Robin Prior
Monday, 23 April 2012

This book is the second in a series compiled by a group of Canberra academics on the distortions they perceive to surround the writing of military history in this country. Before the book itself is tackled, a word should be said about the titles they have chosen for their two volumes. The first (published in 2010) is called Zombie Myths of Australian Military Hi ...

‘The product under consideration is Shist.’ So began New Zealand historian Keith Sinclair’s discussion of short histories in 1968. His irreverent diminutive is still occasionally heard among professional historians of a certain age. It is less often recalled that Sinclair was defending the worth of the short history ...

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The apotheosis of Stephanie Alexander

Gay Bilson
Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Most present-day Australian chefs (that is to say, cooks who earn a living through their training, practice, and culinary skills) who have written cookbooks are at the same time telling us about themselves. Is it not curious that, in general, cooks repeatedly praise the table for its central role in hospitality, conviviality, generosity, and equality, yet seem so ne ...

Australian advocates of a harsh line against asylum seekers arriving by boat often base their arguments on a concern for the protection of human life. Unless we deter boat people, so the reasoning goes, ever greater numbers will set out on the dangerous voyage from Indonesia, and more and more lives will be lost at sea ...

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Here are some of the interesting things you may learn if you read John Sutherland’s Lives of the Novelists:

that James Fenimore Cooper was expelled from Yale for training a donkey to sit in the professor’s chair

that Evelyn Waugh once attempted suicide but was prevented from drowning by a passing shoal o ...

Ruth Starke reviews 'Inside Creative Writing'

Ruth Starke
Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Graeme Harper is a big name in the academic field of creative writing. He was the first in Australia to be awarded a doctorate in creative writing (UTS, 1993) and followed that with a PhD from the University of East Anglia; he has held professorships in creative writing in the United Kingdom, Australia, and the United States. He edits journals and writes textbooks o ...

In The Australian Moment: How We Were Made for These Times, George Megalogenis tries to explain how, in spite of ourselves, we managed to survive the last three ‘super crashes of the digital age’. He does so by actively avoiding the usual partisan morality tales, complete with intra-party rivalry ...

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