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[12 Aug 2017 | No Comment | 24 views ]

The Show: Another Side Of Santamaria’s Movement
By Mark Aarons, with John Grenville
Scribe, 265pp, $32.99
BA Santamaria was one of the most influential unelected Australian political figures of the 20th century. ‘The Show’ is a sometimes controversial reassessment of the role in labour history and Labor politics of this Melbourne-based Catholic layman who loomed large in our political and cultural landscape. From 1942, Santamaria (1915-98) helped organise and orchestrate anti-communist activities throughout Australia, especially in Victoria.
Mark Aarons’s previous book, ‘The Family File’, was a riveting account of four generations of his …

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[9 Aug 2017 | No Comment | 7 views ]

GOING OUT BACKWARDS: A GRAFTON EVEREST ADVENTURE
By Ross Fitzgerald & Ian McFadyen
Hybrid Publishers 2015
ISBN: 9781925272109
RRP , $26.9 pb
Reviewed by Gerard Henderson
Barry Humphries has described Grafton Everest as “a wonderful creation in the same ranks as Philip Roth’s Portnoy and Kingsley Amis’s Lucky Jim.
Dr Everest (for a doctor he is) makes a welcome return in ‘Going Out Backwards: A Grafton Everest Adventure.’ This is the fifth appearance by Professor (for a professor he also is) Grafton in print. On this occasion via the combined work of Ross Fitzgerald (the Sydney-based Emeritus …

Columns »

[27 Jul 2017 | No Comment | 33 views ]

Abbott’s mission
The Liberal party now needs saving from itself
ROSS FITZGERALD
As Adam Smith once observed, in most nations there’s often a lot of ruin. His point was that it takes much more than a short period of bad government to inflict major damage on a strong country.
In a well-developed civil society, very little requires the express say-so of government. People are always trying to improve their lot, and largely succeeding, even when the government of the day is consistently getting it wrong. That said, government matters because it …

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[18 Jul 2017 | Comments Off on Geoffrey Bolton & Cazaly reviews | 38 views ]

TELLING STORIES AT THE PERIPHERY OF A NATION
‘A Historian For All Seasons: Essays for Geoffrey Bolton’
Edited by Stuart Macintyre, Lenore Layman and Jenny Gregory
Monash University Publishing 2017
ISBN (paperback): 978-1-925495-60-7
ISBN (e-book): 978-1-925495-61-4
RRP $39.95
by Ross Fitzgerald
When our daughter Emerald was little, the only person she called by their full name was Geoffrey Bolton. She was obviously impressed by him and why wouldn’t she have been? After all Bolton, my friend and intellectual mentor, was tall and full-bearded and looked like an Old Testament prophet. He cut a striking figure.
In 1963, when his …

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[8 Jul 2017 | Comments Off on Heysen put into perspective, by gum | 18 views ]

‘Hans Heysen’
By Lou Klepac
The Beagle Press, 216pp, $120 (HB)
The author of this impressive book, Lou Klepac, has had a long association with the life and work of German-born Hans Heysen, a pioneer of Australian art who transformed how we see, draw and paint the Australian landscape.
Indeed, when Klepac became curator of paintings at the Art Gallery of South Australia in 1966, Heysen was still on its board of trustees. Before he died in 1968, the then 90-year-old artist invited the author to The Cedars, a 60ha property near Hahndorf …

Columns »

[6 Jul 2017 | Comments Off on Point of no returnbull | 26 views ]

It’s over
by ROSS FITZGERALD
The first duty of a leader is to keep the team together. This is Malcolm Turnbull’s biggest failure. The federal parliamentary party is split, some of its strongest talent is banished to the backbench, party members are resigning in droves and the government is pursuing policies it would condemn coming from Labor.
Turnbull has never understood that loyalty is a two way street. You’ve got to give loyalty in order to get it. This involves fidelity to principles as well as loyalty to people. As leader of the …

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[28 Jun 2017 | Comments Off on Manning Clark and the Vanishing Archaeologist | 14 views ]

by Ross Fitzgerald
Students of Australian prehistory were once thin on the ground and interest in the field was equally limited. But that all began to change in the 1960s when work opportunities in the field began opening up. The search for archaeological traces of Australia’s ever more remote inhabited past was at last taking off as a discipline in the nation’s expanding universities.
Importantly, the subject already had acquired a dynamic exponent and champion in the person of John Mulvaney from Melbourne University. Mulvaney had completed …

Columns »

[23 Jun 2017 | Comments Off on Trouble in Libland | 34 views ]

by ROSS FITZGERALD
The clock is now ticking on Malcolm Turnbull’s leadership. He currently faces active resistance from more than a score of Coalition MPs who didn’t enter public life to mimic the Labor Party. To them, the current PM’s not just leading a ‘Labor-lite’ government; he’s in the process of undermining fundamental Liberal Party values.
Edmund Burke defined a political party as a group of people working to advance the national interest according to a set of principles upon which they all agree. As John …

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[16 Jun 2017 | Comments Off on Review of Sydney Noir | 86 views ]

History
‘Sydney Noir: The Golden Years’
Michael Duffy and Nick Hordern
NewSouth, $34.99
Can a crime era be described as golden? That depends on your point of view, I suppose. If you’re a criminal or a corrupt cop, the description might, or might not, be apt. Hence ‘Sydney Noir’ is subtitled “The Golden Years” with more than a modicum of irony.
This compelling, well-researched and finely written book focuses on the Sydney underworld from 1966 to 1972. Good times to be a crim, apparently.
These “golden years” saw the replacement of illegal gambling as the main …

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[8 Jun 2017 | Comments Off on Behind The Headlines –with Rupert Murdoch’s Man About Town | 20 views ]

‘Making Headlines’
By Chris Mitchell
Melbourne University Press 2016
ISBN: (Paperback) 9780522870701
ISBN: (E-Book)9780522870718
RRP: $32.99 pb
Reviewed by Ross Fitzgerald
For years from the mid-1990s onwards I wrote a regular column for Chris Mitchell when he ran Brisbane’s ‘Courier-Mail’ and then, from July 2002, when he was editor-in-chief of ‘The Australian’. This was the case until he retired from his extremely demanding editorial position in December 2015.
My experience is that Mitchell genuinely believes in freedom of speech and in the free play of ideas. Indeed, I can’t remember a single instance when he tried to prevent …

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[3 Jun 2017 | Comments Off on Crucial month on the road to World War 11 | 16 views ]

‘Four Weeks One Summer’
By Nicholas Whitlam
Australian Scholarly Publishing, 284pp, $44
The causes of World War II are still debated, but was there a seminal moment?
As Australian author Nicholas Whitlam makes clear, there is almost universal consensus the conflict had its origins in the dubious settlement arrangements of World War I.
The breakdown of the established order in Europe, hyperinflation, the Depression and perceived political appeasement all laid the groundwork.
While there has been much speculation about how the war could have been avoided, Whitlam’s ‘Four Weeks One Summer’ centres on this question: when …