Articles in the Reviews Category
Richard Brooks: From Convict Ship Captain to Pillar of Early Colonial Australia
By Christine Maher
Rosenberg Publishing, 248pp, $29.95
As captain of the convict transport ship ‘Alexander’, Richard Brooks sailed in a convoy of seven vessels bringing incoming governor William Bligh to Sydney in 1806. Four years earlier Brooks, a rum trader, had presided over arguably the worst single voyage in a convict ship coming to Sydney Cove, that of the ‘Atlas’. A third of the convicts — 73 people — died from disease and neglect, with the latter in large part because …
Chris Mitchell, ‘Making Headlines’
Melbourne University Press 2016, $32.99
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 or influence me …
ALLEN & UNWIN, $32.99
Two books, both entitled ‘Gallipoli’, have stood the test of time. The first, published in 1956, is by Alan Moorehead. The second, published in 2001, is by Les Carlyon, who breathed new life into Moorehead’s magnificent account of the ill-fated campaign.
Now we have a third excellent book about Gallipoli that takes the form of a biography of one of the finest war correspondents Australia has produced and who eventually died as a soldier, aged 27, on Flanders Fields on June 23, 1917.
This remarkable human being …
Evatt: A Life
By John Murphy
NewSouth, 451pp, $49.99 (HB)
Deeply flawed but intellectually brilliant, yet often foolish, grandiose and out of control, former federal Labor leader Herbert Vere “Doc” Evatt is one of 20th-century Australia’s most puzzling, complex and contradictory political figures.
Written with the aid of research assistants Carla Pascoe and Bill Garner, Evatt: A Lifemakes excellent use of many archives, in particular the voluminous Evatt collection at Flinders University in Adelaide, which perhaps surprisingly contains few private papers. However, as previous biographers of Evatt have noted, he rarely wrote or replied …
The Drowned Man: A True Story of Life, Death and Murder on HMAS Australia
By Brendan James Murray
Echo Publishing, 384pp, $32.95
One of the highlights of Mike Carlton’s magnificent naval history ‘Flagship’, which I recently reviewed in these pages, is its exploration of the murder of a young, homosexual crew member that took place on board HMAS Australia in March 1942. Now an entire book, although not quite as fine a work as Carlton’s, has been written on the subject.
In many ways a 70-year-old naval mystery, the details of which have never …
1787: The Lost Chapters of Australia’s Beginnings
HARDIE GRANT, $29.99
In many history books, including some of my earlier works, the time before European settlement of Australia is often presented as a prefatory chapter that begins 50,000 years before the present. In such accounts it is only when the so-called “Dreamtime” finishes that a history proper is seen to begin.
As a result, a great slab of past human experience is, as Nick Brodie explains, “relegated to archaeology and hermetically sealed by the founding of a British colony”. But, as Brodie maintains, …
‘Flagship’: The Cruiser HMAS Australia II and the Pacific War on Japan
By Mike Carlton
William Heinemann Australia, 642pp, $49.99 (HB)
Author and broadcaster Mike Carlton has a lifelong commitment to Australian naval history. ‘Flagship’ is his third book in a magnificent four-part series that began with ‘Cruiser’ (2011), continued with ‘First Victory’ (2014) and which will end with a final, so far untitled work that is yet to be completed.
‘Flagship’ deals with HMAS Australia II, a ship fast, spacious and modern by the standard of the times. It centres on the …
Whole Wild World
According to Walkley Award-winning journalist Tom Dusevic, plying his trade is a demanding business, rather like bricklaying with a deadline. Dusevic usefully puts it thus: “Sentences are laid down like courses, one on top of the other, aiming for plumb on shaky ground.”
As those of us who have crafted a memoir know, conjuring up a sustained exploration of one’s past, including that of one’s parents and siblings, is an even more difficult task.
Set in suburban Sydney in the 1960s and 1970s, Dusevic’s memoir tries to …
The Man on the Twenty Dollar Notes: Flynn of the Inland
By Everald Compton
Xlibris, 247pp, $29.99
Decades ago, when I was a student at Melbourne High School, I was entranced by reading a battered biography of John Flynn, founder of the Royal Flying Doctor Service. First published in 1932, ‘Flynn of the Inland’ was written by that vastly underrated Australian writer, Ion Idriess.
Now, 84 years and eight books about him later, yet another biography of Flynn, who was born at Moliagul, central Victoria in 1880, has seen the light of day. Self-published …
Dead Men Don’t Order Flake
By Sue Williams
Text Publishing, 308pp, $29.99
Dead men don’t tell tales but, according to Australian author Sue Williams there are also other things they don’t do. “Dead men don’t order flake,” she writes at the beginning of this finely wrought and highly amusing crime novel.
Yet that’s exactly what the supposedly deceased Leo Stone requested the April afternoon he strolled into Cassandra Tuplin’s takeaway, “his gladiator shoulders filling up her shop doorway”. As well as being the owner-operator of the only takeaway shop in the tiny town of …
“The Big Boys Fly Up”
Review of ‘Heartfelt Moments in Australian Rules Football’
Ross Fitzgerald (ed)
Connor Court Publishing P/L, 2016
RRP – $29.99 pb
Reviewed by Paul Henderson
THE BIG BOYS FLY UP
Ross Fitzgerald’s book consists of his introduction, followed by 37 short accounts or essays about aspects of Australian Rules Football and an epilogue which considers the effects that weather has had on the game.
The 37 authors come from many walks of life including former players, administrators and coaches, past and present politicians, business leaders, academics, journalists, a cardinal, a publisher, authors and …