Charles Perkins: A biography by Peter Read

Reviewed by
December 1990–January 1991, no. 127
Stuart Macintyre reviews 'Charles Perkins: A biography' by Peter Read

Charles Perkins: A biography

by Peter Read

Viking, $29.95 pb, 317 pp

Charles Perkins: A biography by Peter Read

Reviewed by
December 1990–January 1991, no. 127

His minister described him as a permanent troubleshooter. And yet Charlie Perkins was surely the most trouble-prone and troublesome permanent head in Australian administrative history. Where other bureaucratics operated stealthily to preserve the outward appearance of responsible government, he engaged in calculated acts of public defiance and abuse of the governments he was meant to serve. They could no more dispense with his services, however, than he could operate without their largesse. And so for the best part of twenty year the volatile mediator orchestrated relations between the state and the modern Aboriginal movement.

Charles Perkins is both the subject of this biography and its principal informant. Peter Read declares frankly at the outset that he approached Perkins in 1986 and secured his cautious agreement to proceed; that he drew on Perkins’s extensive collection of personal papers as well as long conversations; and that he followed the final tumultuous conflict between Perkins and his minister from the vantage point of the former.

Stuart Macintyre reviews 'Charles Perkins: A biography' by Peter Read

Charles Perkins: A biography

by Peter Read

Viking, $29.95 pb, 317 pp

From the New Issue

You May Also Like

Leave a comment

If you are an ABR subscriber, you will need to sign in to post a comment.

If you have forgotten your sign in details, or if you receive an error message when trying to submit your comment, please email your comment (and the name of the article to which it relates) to ABR Comments. We will review your comment and, subject to approval, we will post it under your name.

Please note that all comments must be approved by ABR and comply with our Terms & Conditions.