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[23 May 2015 | No Comment | 2 views ]

Review of ‘Operation Chowhound: The Most Risky, Most Glorious, US Bomber Mission of WWII.’
By Stephen Dando-Collins
St Martin’s Press, 272pp, $32.99
The Berlin airlift of 1948-49 has become world famous. Yet three years earlier, in the dying days of World War II, a remarkable airborne operation took place over Nazi-occupied Holland. This involved, in late April and early May 1945, low-flying American and British heavy bombers dropping desperately needed food to Dutch civilians, many of whom were dying of hunger. Across 10 days, more than 10,000 tonnes of food was delivered. Most …

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[9 May 2015 | No Comment | 11 views ]

Review of
‘Windsor’s Way’
By Tony Windsor
MUP, 246pp, $32.99
In the early 1990s Tony Windsor, as the independent state MP for Tamworth, kept Nick Greiner’s minority Liberal government in power in NSW. In 2001, he was elected the independent federal member for New England.
All in all, the likable, plain-spoken Windsor experienced 22 years in two Australian parliaments, and won seven elections as an independent. Moreover, his vote was pivotal in two crucial balance-of-power situations: one favouring Greiner; the other, in concert with the loquacious independent MP for Lyne, Rob Oakeshott, supporting the minority …

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[11 Apr 2015 | No Comment | 16 views ]

Memoirs of a Slow Learner: New Edition
By Peter Coleman
Connor Court, 190pp, $29.95
Writing a memoir doesn’t mean you have to spill your guts. Sometimes what is left unsaid can be as interesting and even more intriguing than what is revealed.
When this book was first published 21 years ago, some reviewers complained Peter Coleman was far too reticent, especially about his personal life. This, it seems to me, is a misunderstanding of the nature of his memoir, which is neither a confession nor a listing of his individual achievements but essentially a …

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[4 Apr 2015 | No Comment | 35 views ]

Review of
‘Let My People Go: The Untold Story of Australia and the Soviet Jews 1959—89′.
By Sam Lipski and Suzanne D. Rutland
Hybrid Publishers, 273pp, $29.95
Meeting Jews who had been persecuted in Russia inspired Melbourne-born Sam Lipski to write about their struggle. In 1987 the distinguished journalist visited Moscow and was confronted with the brutal reality of Soviet totalitarianism through lengthy interviews with Soviet Jews who had applied to immigrate to ­Israel but were refused permission to do so.
As a proud Australian Jew, Lipski was sympathetic to the cause of these “refuseniks’’. …

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[14 Mar 2015 | No Comment | 34 views ]

Review of ‘The Compassionate Englishwoman: Emily Hobhouse in the Boer War’
By Robert Eales
Middle Harbour Press, 298pp, $29.95
IT was a terrible war with atrocities, war crimes and concentration camps but it had nothing to do with the Nazis. This was the Boer War, 1899-1902, and the camps were set up by the British, of whose empire Australia was an integral part. It was also a war that blooded Australians for the catastrophe to follow.
The British Army, led by the likes of Lord Horatio Kitchener of Khartoum fame, not only burned most …

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[7 Mar 2015 | No Comment | 32 views ]

Review of ‘Still a Pygmy’
By Isaac Bacirongo and Michael Nest
Finch Publishing, 234pp, $27.99
THIS is one of the most unusual and fascinating memoirs I have read in many years.
Written with the aid of Michael Nest, a freelance researcher with a PhD in African politics, ‘Still A Pygmy’ documents how Isaac Bacirongo — a BaTempo Pygmy from the forests of the Democratic Republic of the Congo — moved to Sydney with his wife Josephine and their 10 children.
The only member of his extended family to go to school and also for a …

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[28 Feb 2015 | No Comment | 11 views ]

Review of ‘The Cunning Man’
By Peter Stanley
Bobby Graham Publishers, 338pp, $29.95
HAVING enjoyed historian Peter Stanley’s many works of nonfiction, one turns to this historical novel with enthusiasm but also a degree of trepidation.
There’s little doubt Stanley is one of Australia’s leading military historians. ‘The Cunning Man’ was born of research for another project. It is squarely based on his detailed and painstaking doctoral research into the lives of European soldiers in early Victorian India. In 1998, Stanley’s PhD about the subject was published in a widely acclaimed book, ‘White Mutiny: …

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[7 Feb 2015 | No Comment | 8 views ]

Review of ‘Mateship: A Very Australian History’
By Nick Dyrenfurth
Scribe, 256pp, $29.99
NICK Dyrenfurth’s Mateship is the first significant exploration of what the author terms “our secular egalitarian creed” since Russel Ward’s path-breaking 1958 work ‘The Australian Legend.’
Many of the themes in Dyrenfurth’s well-produced book (though it unfortunately lacks an index) had been explored previously with fellow scholars at the Australian Society for the Study of Labour History. Moreover, as Dyrenfurth acknowledges, the early stages of this often provocative and insightful book benefited from his three-year postdoctoral fellowship, hosted by …

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[31 Jan 2015 | No Comment | 23 views ]

Review of ‘Paul Hasluck: A Life’
By Geoffrey Bolton
UWA Publishing, 492pp, $49.99
FOR 20 years, from 1949, when he won the newly created Perth-based seat of Curtin, Fremantle-born Paul Hasluck was one of Australia’s most prominent conservative federal politicians. Born into a Salvation Army family, Hasluck played a leading role in Aboriginal affairs and indigenous reform and also in helping prepare Papua New Guinea for independence.
After Liberal prime minister Robert Menzies in 1951 appointed him minister for territories, a position he held for 12 years, Hasluck (1905–93) was minister for external affairs …