Non Fiction

Peter Menkhorst reviews 'Where Song Began' by Tim Low

Peter Menkhorst
Thursday, 30 October 2014

Australia’s birds stand out from the global avian pack in many ways – ecologically, behaviourally, because some ancient lineages survive here, and because many species are endemic. The ancestors of more than half of the planet’s ten thousand bird species (the songbirds) evolved right here (eastern Gondwana) before spreading across the world. Indeed, Tim Low cl ...

Dina Ross reviews 'Jean Galbraith' by Meredith Fletcher

Dina Ross
Thursday, 30 October 2014

The last photographs taken of Jean Galbraith show a wrinkled woman in her eighties, with wispy hair pulled back in a bun, wearing round tortoiseshell spectacles, thick stockings, and sensible shoes – the kind of person you might expect to see serving behind the counter of a country post office early last century, or pouring en ...

In July 2009 I toured the Murray-Darling Basin and northern Queensland with a group of American college professors to see firsthand how the waterways of these regions were faring. By this time, south-eastern Australia had been in drought for nearly a decade, reducing its rivers and creeks to mere trickles. Aboard the MV Kingfisher, we explored the wetlands of ...

Whether you love or hate lawyer–activist Noel Pearson’s ideas, you have to admire his chutzpah, his willingness to put his ideas out there for public discussion and debate, even if his own dogmatism sometimes limits his diplomatic engagements ...

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In her short life (1891–1927), Lesbia Harford wrote hundreds of poems and a novel, took a law degree at the University of Melbourne, had love affairs with both women and men, worked as a machinist in clothing factories, and was active in the anti-conscription movement during World War I and the International Workers of the World (‘the Wobblies’). She was the q ...

On 17 January 1991, Alan Atkinson wrote to fellow historian Manning Clark to express his appreciation after reading The Puzzles of Childhood (1989) and The Quest for Grace (1990), Clark’s two volumes of autobiography. While Clark had only four months to live, Atkinson would soon begin work on The Europeans in Australia, a three-v ...

Tom Griffiths on coming of age in the Great Acceleration

Tom Griffiths
Monday, 27 October 2014

I am a ‘Sputnik’, born in the year the Soviet satellite launched the Cold War into space. The launching by the Russians of the first artificial Earth satellite on 4 October 1957 seemed to many in the West a threatening symbol of escalating superpower rivalry. And it did unleash extreme military anxiety and triggered what became known as the Space Race. Twelve ye ...

This clear and cogent book is an important wake-up call. It should not need saying that it is impossible for human populations and economies to grow without limit on a finite planet, but that delusion is widespread. This book is a reminder of the inconvenient truth that should be informing our leaders ...

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Dennis Altman reviews Bob Brown's memoir 'Optimism'

Dennis Altman
Monday, 27 October 2014

There is a built-in paradox for the Greens: they need to both persuade people that we face major ecological disasters and at the same time hold out hope that we can respond meaningfully to them. To do this requires the sort of corny and touching optimism that gives Bob Brown’s book its title.

Optimism is neither a conventional memoir nor a political ...

Danielle Clode: 'Seeing the wood for the trees'

Danielle Clode
Monday, 27 October 2014

Many years ago, after working for a while in Europe, we returned to Australia via America. We picked up a car in Atlanta and drove through sprawling cities, alarming slums, and abandoned downtowns. Across Mississippi and the broad, reassuring openness of Texas, to Arizona and the Grand Canyon, we passed through the alien electrics of Las Vegas, down into Death Valle ...

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