Articles in the Reviews Category
All Fall Down
University of Queensland Press, $32.95. Buy now on Booktopia
‘All Fall Down’ is an exquisite finale to Matthew Condon’s epic analysis of crime and corruption in mid-to-late-20th-century Queensland. This fascinating, clearly written, final volume of Condon’s true-crime trilogy, ‘The Three Crooked Kings’, is buttressed by an enormous amount of research, including face-to-face interviews with leading players at that critical time in Queensland’s political and criminal history.
This book features diary entries and a score of interviews with the police commissioner, Terence (Terry) Lewis, who despite having been found guilty …
Comrade Ambassador: Whitlam’s Beijing Envoy
By Stephen FitzGerald
MUP, 272pp, $34.99
When Gough Whitlam appointed Stephen FitzGerald as Australia’s first ambassador to the People’s Republic of China, he did so with typical ironic humour: “I shall now call you Comrade Ambassador. ” Hence the title of this engaging memoir.
Schooled in Hobart, FitzGerald, the youngest of five children, did not know a single Asian person until he went to the University of Tasmania in 1957. Even there, few students regarded ‘‘the discovery of Asia’’ as a burning issue.
But, as FitzGerald puts it, “the deeply …
The Money Men: Australia’s 12 Most Notable Treasurers
By Chris Bowen
MUP, 472pp, $34.95
Many books have been written about Australian prime ministers but treasurers have not received the same attention — until now. This is strange because being treasurer is justifiably regarded as the country’s second most important job.
In The Money Men, Chris Bowen, who was treasurer for four months under Kevin Rudd and is now shadow treasurer, has written an honest and unbiased evaluation of occupants of the office. He demonstrates considerable sympathy for them, as well as understanding.
In the author’s …
Santamaria: A Most Unusual Man
By Gerard Henderson
The Miegunyah Press, 505pp, $59.99
As it happens, in early October 1997, accompanied by Brisbane-based film director Pat Laughren, I conducted what turned out to be the final film interview with leading Catholic activist BA (‘‘Bob’’) Santamaria, who was born in Brunswick on August 14, 1915, and died in Kew on February 25, 1998.
This interview, held at the headquarters of the National Civic Council in North Melbourne, was for a planned television documentary entitled ‘Stories from the Labor Split.’ In this lengthy interview, the person …
By Nick Brodie
Hardie Grant, $29.95.
As Tasmania-based historian and archaeologist Nick Brodie traced his family tree back to some of the earliest white arrivals in the Antipodes, including transported felons, he also began to observe a pattern of European settlement in Australia.
As the intricate and interweaving lives of his extended family members, especially the Brodies, the O’Raffertys and the O’Keeffes, intersected with colonial and then post-Federation Australian history, Brodie managed to uncover a series of stories of hardship and travail, of revival and treasured memory, of individual hope, and of social, …
Secrets, Spies & Spotted Dogs
By Jane Eales
Middle Harbour Press, 292pp, $29.95
Jane Eales, who was born in London in April 1947, was 19 when she was told she was adopted. She was living in South Africa at the time and needed to produce her birth certificate in case of wishing to take up permanent residence. When she requested this document from her Jewish parents, who were then living in Salisbury, Southern Rhodesia (now Harare, Zimbabwe), they insisted on paying her airfare to fly her ‘‘home’’ for the weekend. That’s when she …
Review of ‘Joh for PM’
By Paul Davey
Newsouth Books, $29.99
As well as being a former journalist, for many years Paul Davey was a senior staffer for the National Party of Australia at state and federal levels. In particular, he was the National Party’s federal director during the tumultuous time of controversial Queensland premier Johannes “Joh” Bjelke-Petersen’s brief and spectacularly unsuccessful tilt at the highest office in the land.
Hence ‘Joh for PM’ is marketed as an insider’s story – of what is indisputably an extraordinary Australian political and parliamentary melodrama. Whether …
‘Australia’s Boldest Experiment: War and Reconstruction in the 1940s’.
By Stuart Macintyre
NewSouth, 596pp, $34.99
Stuart Macintyre’s latest book examines the vast reconstruction and nation-building project in Australia after the end of World War II and throughout almost all of the 1940s.
‘Australia’s Boldest Experiment’ is dedicated to the historian’s wife, Martha — also an esteemed academic — who was born early on August 16, 1945. Martha’s mother, born the year the Great War ended, went into labour as the news broke in Australia late in the morning of August 15, 1945, that World …
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 …
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 …
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 …