Non Fiction

Trivialising the Anzacs

Joan Beaumont
28 April 2014

In a year sure to be glutted with military commemorations, leading historian Joan Beaumont highlights the commodification and triviliasation of the Anzac legend.

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Who was Stephen Ward? And why does his fate matter today? The Profumo affair, with its mixture of sex, politics, aristocracy, and espionage, has become the archetypal scandal. In 1962, Jack Profumo was British Secretary of State for War (ministerial titles were more frank in those days) ...

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Geoff Page reviews 'From the Trenches'

Geoff Page
28 March 2014

Mark Dapin’s anthology, From the Trenches, is a timely but not opportunistic book. At more than 400 pages, it is long enough to suggest the sheer scale of the war and its centrality to European (if not world) history ever since. It samples all the relevant genres (letters, memoir, journalism, fiction, poetry) and offers a multiplicity of viewpoints (senior ranks, subalterns, NCOs, priv ...

2014 Calibre Prize (Winner): Unearthing the Past

Christine Piper
25 March 2014

Christine Piper is the winner of the 2014 Calibre Prize for an Outstanding Essay, worth $5,000. In this powerful essay, she writes about Japanese biological weapons and wartime experiments on living human beings.

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Why does illness create such a marked need for story? Why do we want to read about other people’s illnesses and talk or write about our own? At the most basic level, it is surely because human beings always need stories. Indeed, neuroscientists believe that narrative consciousness is hard-wired into our brains ...

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Robin Priors 'The Roar of the Lion'

Robin Prior
28 February 2014

In his introduction to this book, Richard Toye makes the startling but, as far as I know, accurate claim that this is the first book to offer a comprehensive analysis of Churchill’s wartime speeches. For a series of orations that now occupy many pages of any dictionary of quotations, The Roar of the Lion fills a surprising gap. Unfortunately, it does not fi ...

Robert O'Neill reviews 'Hanoi's War'

Robert O'Neill
27 February 2014

Although the Vietnam War ended thirty-nine years ago, we have had to wait until now for a full and rigorous scholarly analysis of Hanoi’s policies during that war. Much important material from the war years survived in the archives of the former North Vietnamese ministries, but for a long time it was off limits to Westerners. Gradually, over the past twenty years, ...

Award-winning biographer Brenda Niall welcomes the first biography of Penelope Fitzgerald by superlative British biographer Hermione Lee, and is fascinated by the great novelist’s secret river of creativity.

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The Mystery of the Silent Scribes

Gideon Haigh
26 February 2014

Gideon Haigh reviews a major new study of the failure of investigative journalism during the 2008 GFC. He argues that journalists became invested in the economic boom, to their cost.

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David Malouf’s Rapturous Sense of Things

Lisa Gorton
25 February 2014

David Malouf turns eighty this month, improbably. To mark his birthday, UQP has published a new poetry collection by Malouf. ABR Poetry Editor reviews Earth Hour in this issue.

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