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[16 Sep 2017 | No Comment | 11 views ]

Review
‘Please Explain: The Rise, Fall and Rise Again of Pauline Hanson’
By Anna Broinowski
Viking, 312pp $34.99
Anna Broinowski’s revealing documentary ‘Pauline Hanson: Please Explain!’ ran on SBS television a year ago. Throughout 2015 the award-winning filmmaker had unfettered access to Hanson and her Fed Up campaign, as Hanson attempted to win a Queensland Senate seat at the 2016 federal election.
This involved following Hanson on the hustings as she flew from Rockhampton to Sydney to Great Keppel Island and other parts of rural and regional Queensland in her Jabiru two-seater …

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[2 Sep 2017 | No Comment | 13 views ]

Radio Astronomer: John Bolton and a New Window on the Universe
By Peter Robertson
NewSouth, 432pp, $59.99 (HB)
The moon landing was an American-led space adventure but it also shone a spotlight on an Australian scientific success story.
The Parkes radio telescope in rural NSW became world famous when, in July 1969, it relayed Neil Armstrong’s first steps on the moon.
Science writer Peter Robertson is known for his 1992 book on the telescope, ‘Beyond Southern Skies’. He spent much of his working life with the CSIRO Publishing group in Melbourne. Now he has …

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[30 Aug 2017 | No Comment | 19 views ]

A ROMAN CANDLE IN THE NIGHT
‘On the Wagon: Following in the footsteps of Jack Kerouac, sober’
By Lennox Nicholson
Publisher: Affirm Press: Melbourne, 2017
ISBN: 9781925344578
RRP: $24.99 (pb)
Reviewed by ROSS FITZGERALD
When I was drinking alcoholically I thought that I was a writer. But in those years I couldn’t even write a note to the milkman! However, since I became alcohol and drug free in Alcoholics Anonymous 47 years ago, I have written 39 books. They may not be “War and Peace” but they exist.
As it happens, I was introduced to AA in Cleveland, …

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[26 Aug 2017 | No Comment | 20 views ]

Tour de Oz
By Bret Harris
HarperCollins, 322pp, $29.99
Circumnavigating Australia by bicycle sounds like a grand folly, something that could form the basis of one of those amusing films about unlikely journeys.
But the story happens to be true. Four years before the inaugural Tour de France, four cyclists, widely known as overlanders, embarked on a race around Australia.
Bret Harris’s Tour de Oz is about their heroic attempts to “circumcycle” our vast continent. The timing is interesting. This pedal-powered adventure took place shortly before the colonies became a nation in 1901. In one …

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[12 Aug 2017 | Comments Off on The inner workings of Santamaria’s Movement | 31 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 | Comments Off on Review of GOING OUT BACKWARDS: A GRAFTON EVEREST ADVENTURE | 11 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 …

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[18 Jul 2017 | Comments Off on Geoffrey Bolton & Cazaly reviews | 66 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 | 26 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 …

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[16 Jun 2017 | Comments Off on Review of Sydney Noir | 142 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 | 24 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 | 19 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 …