Non Fiction

Paul Morgan reviews 'Shirley Hazzard'

Paul Morgan
Sunday, 26 May 2013

The cover of Shirley Hazzard’s The Great Fire shows a vast and terrible conflagration. Flames reach high into the sky, devouring the air and seeming to set the wide river alight. In the distance, an eerily familiar pair of ghostly towers rises above the smoke. In the foreground, tiny human figures move around as a boat sets off towards the fire, perhaps in ...

My Swedish neighbour is rebuilding. From my back garden I overheard her Australian builder loudly introducing her to a tradesman named Hans. ‘Now, we’re for it,’ he chortled. ‘It’ll be talk, talk, talk, no stopping you now.’ As I hung out the washing, I reflected that the Australian nervousness around ‘Continentals’ that Madeleine St John details so ...

Like the best examples of true crime books, Every Parent’s Nightmare goes far beyond the tragedy at its centre and places it in its socio-economic context. Belinda Hawkins details how a death in Bulgaria back in 2007 became a highly politicised incident, and offers a convincing explanation as to why the trial was so sloppy and one-sided ...

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Simon Caterson on 'John le Carré’s spy at fifty'

Simon Caterson
Sunday, 26 May 2013

In describing the enduring cultural impact of The Spy Who Came in from the Cold – published fifty years ago and often nominated as the best spy novel ever written – a good place to start, strange though it may sound, is James Bond. John le Carré’s squalid yet subtle world of Cold War spies may appear antithetical to the glamorous fantasy of Bond. ...

Brian Matthews: A non-canonical anthology

Brian Matthews
Sunday, 26 May 2013

To begin at the beginning. ‘When the first Pakeha ship came,’ Te Horeta told the explorer Charles Heaphy, ‘I was a lad … [about twelve years old].’ Watching the ‘white people’ row ashore, ‘paddling with their backs to the way they were going’, the boy and his companions ‘thought they must have eyes behind their heads’.

Conquering ...

Jeffrey Tate on rediscovering Britten

Jeffrey Tate
Sunday, 26 May 2013

It would be a pity if this well-researched and nuanced biography of the greatest English composer of the second half of the twentieth century became known for the rather sensational medical revelations contained in the last chapter. Certainly, they gave me pause before I began reading the book.

Benjamin Britten (1913–76) was the towering ...

Penguins on Horseback

Emma McEwin
Saturday, 25 May 2013

Wandering through the Mawson collection at the South Australian Museum one winter afternoon, I stare through the glass at the reconstruction of my great-grandfather, Douglas Mawson’s room in the hut, the sound of a moaning blizzard in my ears. The eerie sound of the wind coming through the installation, so familiar to Mawson and his men, is strangely allurin ...

The recent publication of Willa Cather’s letters caused a stir in the United States. The American author, surprisingly underrated here, had explicitly and repeatedly said she did not want her letters made public. Some believe her wishes should be respected; others say the demands of history are greater than those of a long-dead individual.

This, of c ...

Bradley Manning is famous for being the US soldier who supplied WikiLeaks with its ‘choicest material’. In The Passion of Bradley Manning, Chase Madar argues that Manning is a national hero who has been wrongfully punished for his actions ...

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Jay Daniel Thompson reviews 'Reluctant Rescuers' by Tony Kevin

Jay Daniel Thompson
Sunday, 28 April 2013

In Reluctant Rescuers, Tony Kevin addresses the rescue at sea of boat people who have entered Australian waters. He aims to provide a ‘fact-based analysis of a shadowy’ – and deeply controversial – ‘area of public policy’. Kevin begins by correcting the myth that ‘people smugglers’ are the ‘main culprits when people die at sea’ ...

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