Non Fiction

David Day on 'Menzies at War'

David Day
22 July 2014

Prime ministers seem to value longevity, whether it is Bob Hawke relishing the fact that he served longer than John Curtin and Ben Chifley combined, or John Howard relishing that he served longer than Hawke. But no prime minister is likely to serve as long as Robert Menzies’ sixteen years as prime minister from 1949 to 1966. His record is even more impressive when ...

The Commonwealth Games, like the Commonwealth of Nations, often seem irrelevant. I intended to declare my bias in this review when I found author Brian Oliver saying the same thing on the first page of his introduction. But, as the author points out, the Games have survived the political, cultural, and sporting odds for more than eighty years and have a rich sportin ...

To take to the road on a bike, especially if you are a solo female cyclist, is to make yourself vulnerable, submitting yourself to hours of muscle-taxing solitude and reliance on the kindness of strangers. But while slower and physically more arduous than other modes of transport, cycling brings you closer to your surroundings. It offers different perspectives and u ...

Danielle Clode on 'Voyaging in Strange Seas'

Danielle Clode
22 July 2014

Science may well have revolutionised our world, but David Knight finds ‘revolution’ to be an inexact metaphor for the ‘chancy, many stranded story’ he describes. He explores models from biography, with associated concepts of infancy, adolescence, and maturity, before settling on voyages of exploration and discovery. This choice is inspired in part by Newton ...

Forty years ago next Christmas, a cyclone devastated Australia’s northernmost city, Darwin. It is a disaster still clear in the living memory of most Australians over fifty, but it also belongs to the past, the time before we had become aware of climate change. At the time, it was the kind of natural disaster to be expected in summer in the Top End, even if its fe ...

When I was commissioned to write this review, I assumed that this book would be a conventional political biography. I looked forward to reading about Dunstan’s career as premier of South Australia (1967–68 and 1970–79), as his record of achievements showed that our states and territories have the potential to be powerful players in social and cultural reform. ...

For anyone who has ever complained about a difficult mother, or written a memoir about one, this is a humbling book. How trivial, by comparison, our complaints seem. The subtitle promises (or threatens) a disturbing memoir, and so it is. I found it difficult to get out of my head days after reading it.

Biff (born Elizabeth in 1942) Ward was the second child ...

Joel Deane reviews 'Jacks and Jokers'

Joel Deane
22 July 2014

Matthew Condon is fast becoming the George R.R. Martin of Australian true crime. Like the Game of Thrones author, Condon is part-way through the delivery of a saga of epic proportions. However, whereas some fantasy fiction fans doubt that Martin will ever conclude his A Song of Ice and Fire series, everyone knows how the story of corruption in Joh Bjel ...

Putin and the kleptocrats

Nicholas Hordern
22 July 2014

Nick Hordern – long-time journalist and political staffer – reviews two books on Russia’s controversial leader, Vladimir Putin.

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My Brother Jack at fifty

Kevin Rabalais
21 July 2014

Fifty years after the publication of George Johnston’s My Brother Jack, Kevin Rabalais revisits this famous study of family, the Depression, and World War II.

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