January-February 2015, issue no. 368

Peter Acton reviews 'The Invention of News' by Andrew Pettegree

Peter Acton

When St Paul’s burned down in 1561, no one was in any doubt that it was the work of God. The debate – and it was a furious one in the press of the time – concerned what this said about His views on the abolition of the mass. Contemporary press reports of the Battle of Lepanto, the St Bartholomew’s Day Massacre, and the Spanish Armada show how reporting of ev ... More

Sheila Fitzpatrick reviews 'Red Apple' by Phillip Deery

Sheila Fitzpatrick

This book is about a moral panic resulting in the deployment of huge police and bureaucratic resources to ruin the lives of some unlucky individuals who were, or seemed to be, Communist Party members or sympathisers. None of Deery’s cases seems to have been doing anything that posed an actual threat to the US government or population; that, at least, is how it loo ... More

Wilfrid Prest: 'Notebooks, English Virtuosi, and Early Modern Science'

Wilfrid Prest

With the advent of digital technology and the Internet, traditional paper-based scholarship appears increasingly threatened with redundancy, if not total obsolescence. This may help to explain current interest in the various techniques adopted by early modern natural philosophers and scholars who struggled to cope with the diverse and rapidly expanding bodies of dat ... More

Miriam Cosic reviews the biography of 'Wilhelm II'

Miriam Cosic

Wilhelm II, German Kaiser and King of Prussia, may be a shadowy figure for Australian readers, better known as the butt of funny-scary caricatures in British World War I propaganda or of black humour in popular soldiers’ songs, than as a political player in his own right. He remains enigmatic even for scholars. Some hand him the burden of responsibility for World ... More

Bernard Whimpress reviews 'The Commonwealth Games'

Bernard Whimpress

The Commonwealth Games, like the Commonwealth of Nations, often seem irrelevant. I intended to declare my bias in this review when I found author Brian Oliver saying the same thing on the first page of his introduction. But, as the author points out, the Games have survived the political, cultural, and sporting odds for more than eighty years and have a rich sportin ... More

The abiding impact of W.E.B. Du Bois

Luke Horton

William Edward Burghardt Du Bois (1868–1963) forged one of the most remarkable careers of his generation. Starting in the 1890s, often considered the nadir of race relations in the United States, he became the first black man to hold a Harvard bachelor’s degree; emerged as Booker T. Washington’s most eloquent opponent on the issue of segregation; published pio ... More

Ian Dickson revisits the Chelsea Hotel

Ian Dickson

In the heyday of Manhattan hotels, the Chelsea Hotel had its own special niche. The Pierre exuded wealth and exclusivity, the Plaza a sort of bourgeois glamour as the place where the bridge and tunnel crowd would throw caution to the wind and rent a corner suite for big occasions, and the Algonquin, with its round table and Hamlet the cat, radiated intellectual chic ... More

Sheila Fitzpatrick on history vs memoir

Sheila Fitzpatrick

In Iris Murdoch’s novel, The Sandcastle (1957), a young artist called Rain Carter is commissioned to paint a retired schoolmaster, Demoyte, an eccentric with an offbeat sense of humour. Instead of his usual attire – a shabby red velvet jacket with tobacco stains and bow tie – Demoyte turns up wearing a nondescript grey suit, explaining to a friend: ‘A ... More

Australia’s tartan army

Fiona Gruber

I have been looking at the world through tartan frames recently, thanks to the current exhibition ‘For Auld Lang Syne: Images of Scottish Australia from First Fleet to Federation’ and its accompanying catalogue. Actually, to call it a catalogue doesn’t do it justice; its 330 pages ransack dozens of different angles of the Caledonian experience, with essays by ... More

War in Van Diemen's Land

Henry Reynolds

Tasmania is a small place with a rich historiography. Two themes in particular have intrigued historians and novelists since the nineteenth century and have appealed to film-makers and artists in more recent times. The fate of the Aborigines and the convict system which dominated society from 1803 to 1853 have both attracted notice as a result of their dark, dramati ... More

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