Non Fiction

Simon Caterson on 'Melbourne: City of Words'

Simon Caterson
Monday, 30 September 2013

To judge by John McLaren’s thought-provoking survey of 200 years of writing about Melbourne, the city’s most insidious negative feature for many observers – wrong-headed though they may be – is dullness. In George Johnston’s My Brother Jack (1964), the narrator David Meredith rails against the suburbs as ‘worse than slums. They betrayed noth ...

Gay Bilson reviews 'Cooked'

Gay Bilson
Monday, 30 September 2013

If Michael Pollan were a terminal illness, I’d be in the fourth stage of grieving. He has had a brilliant and successful run until now, producing seven books in just over twenty years, taking up a university teaching position (yes, food-related), writing long articles, mostly for the New York Times, and all the while cooking and thinking his way to se ...

Dennis Haskell reviews 'The Local Wildlife'

Dennis Haskell
Monday, 30 September 2013

Pre-teen and early teen years had me and many others enjoying Ross Campbell’s witty column in the Sunday Telegraph newspaper about the goings-on in ‘Oxalis Cottage’, a fictionalised version of his Sydney home. Robert Drewe’s often hilarious columns for The Age and The Weekend West are a kind of modern equivalent, and a selection of ...

Stephen Buckle on 'The Philosopher, the Priest, and the Painter'

Stephen Buckle
Friday, 27 September 2013

In this short and accessible book, Steven Nadler, an accomplished historian of seventeenth-century philosophy, turns his attention to René Descartes (1596–1650) and his cultural milieu in Holland in the 1630s and 1640s. His angle of approach is to take the familiar portrait of Descartes, attributed to Frans Hals – versions of which grace the covers of the ...

Nick Hordern reviews 'Fragile Empire'

Nicholas Hordern
Friday, 27 September 2013

On 18 July 2013the Russian opposition figure Alexei Navalny was sentenced to a five-year jail term on corruption charges. Navalny, in a speech to the court castigating the dispensation which has emerged in Russia since Vladimir Putin first became president in 2000, attacked a ‘system of power in which 83 percent of the country’s w ...

David Cannadine is a distinguished transatlantic historian, the author of books on modern Britain and its empire, the biographer of G.M. Trevelyan and Andrew Mellon, and he recently wrote a perceptive account of the persistent anxiety over school history. An iconoclastic thinker and urbane stylist ...

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Christopher Menz reviews 'William Morris Textiles'

Christopher Menz
Friday, 27 September 2013

Of the innumerable books on the design work of William Morris (1834–96) that have appeared since the 1980s, the one that has remained the best and most informative is Linda Parry’s William Morris Textiles (1983), published early on in her career as a curator at the Victoria and Albert Museum. Since then, there has been much new research on Morris an ...

Rose Lucas reviews 'Stone Scar Air Water' by Judy Johnson

Rose Lucas
Friday, 27 September 2013

Judy Johnson’s sixth collection of poetry brings us a strong range of closely observed, powerful poems. As the title suggests, they are all linked together by elemental themes: the apparent solidity of stone, the persistence of scar tissue, the promises of air, and the complex gifts of water. In their often very ...

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It’s not just history that is written by the victors, but the encyclopedias, too. The eighteenth-century encyclopedias, such as Diderot’s Encyclopédie, were the projects of emergent superpowers, evidence of both the Enlightenment dream of universal knowledge and burgeoning colonial impulses ...

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‘Trust’ between voters and their elected representatives must seem rather arbitrary to politicians, whose success depends on its maintenance. Our simplistic expectations of honesty are belied by the ways in which our subconscious perceptions are herded into different narratives ...

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