Biography

Geoffrey Blainey reviews 'Three Duties and Talleyrand’s Dictum: Keith Waller: Portrait of a working diplomat' by Alan Fewster

Geoffrey Blainey
26 March 2018

Keith Waller was one of the top ambassadors in a period when Australia urgently needed them. During the Cold War, he served in Moscow and then Washington, where a skilled resident diplomat More

David Rolph reviews 'Ma’am Darling: Ninety-nine glimpses of Princess Margaret' by Craig Brown

David Rolph
02 March 2018

My earliest memory of Princess Margaret is flicking through my grandmother’s copy of 'The Australian Women’s Weekly' and seeing photographs of a middle-aged woman, in huge sunglasses a More

Brian McFarlane reviews 'Anthony Powell: Dancing to the music of time' by Hilary Spurling

Brian McFarlane
21 December 2017

Readers of this review are warned that they are in the presence of an addict. Having read Anthony Powell’s monumental twelve-volume Dance to the Music of Time three times, I had More

John Rickard reviews 'The Enigmatic Mr Deakin' by Judith Brett

John Rickard
23 August 2017

There has been an argument going on in the Liberal Party about the nature of the Menzies heritage – was Robert Menzies, the founder of the modern party, a liberal or a conservative? Notably absent from this discussion has been the national figure who was the first leader of a united anti-Labor party and who also happens to have been a father of Federation, Alfred ... More

Diana Glenn reviews 'Claretta: Mussolini’s last lover' by R.J.B. Bosworth

Diana Glenn
31 May 2017

This fascinating volume on the fate of Clara (Claretta) Petacci, mistress to Benito Mussolini, by distinguished historian R.J.B. Bosworth, is a meticulously researched and multi-layered account tracing the fateful relationship between the fascist dictator and his younger paramour. From the genesis of the affair to its well-known aftermath, Bosworth enlivens our unde ... More

Paul Giles reviews 'The Glamour of Strangeness: Artists and the lost age of the exotics' by Jamie James

Paul Giles
30 April 2017

Described in one of the blurbs on its back cover as ‘a cabinet of wonders for lovers of faraway countries,’ Jamie James’s The Glamour of Strangeness is unusual in terms of the wide variety of the material it covers. James focuses here on artists who left their homelands ‘to create a new self in a new place’, arguing that the ‘exotic’ aesthetic ... More

Patrick McCaughey reviews 'Kenneth Clark: Life, Art and Civilization' by James Stourton

Patrick McCaughey
30 March 2017

Kenneth Clark had a life like no other art historian or critic, gallery director, arts administrator, patron, collector, or presenter on television. Whatever he touched, he left a sheen of brilliance. He was handsome, charming, and debonair. And he was rich, spending his last three decades as the lord of Saltwood Castle. His father, the raffish and boozy Kenneth McK ... More

Andrew Fuhrmann reviews 'No Way but This: In Search of Paul Robeson' by Jeff Sparrow

Andrew Fuhrmann
30 March 2017

Is it surprising that Jeff Sparrow should write a book on Paul Robeson, the great American singer who was also a civil rights activist, a man of the left, and the most celebrated Othello of the twentieth century? Sparrow is a broadcaster and columnist, but he is also the immediate past editor of Overland, a literary journal dedicated to a mixed diet of – ... More

Kevin Foster review 'Valiant For Truth: The life of Chester Wilmot, war correspondent' by Neil McDonald with Peter Brune

Kevin Foster
29 March 2017

Chester Wilmot was blessed with the professional reporter’s principal virtues, talent, self-confidence, resilience, and luck. While his skills as a broadcaster took him to the various fronts of World War II, it was luck, as much as planning, that put him in Tobruk, Greece, and on the Kokoda Track at the precise moments to witness Australia’s armed forces in thei ... More

Katy Gerner reviews 'Hamilton Hume: Our greatest explorer' by Robert Macklin

Katy Gerner
27 March 2017

Robert Macklin is a great admirer of Hamilton Hume (1797–1873). He paints a vivid, scholarly picture of one of Australia’s lesser-known ‘currency’ explorers: a man who spent his youth hiking in the bush, with his brother and an Aboriginal guide, as often as his mother would allow. Hume was a successful farmer, able bushman ... More

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