Articles in the Reviews Category
What makes a human life worth living? Now there’s a question that would, to quote the short poem ‘Days’ by English writer Philip Larkin (1922-1985), bring ”the priest and the doctor / in their long coats / running over the fields”.
In ‘The Good Life’, the prolific social researcher Hugh Mackay usefully focuses our attention on this crucial question. Although in some ways Mackay’s most recent book is familiar territory, he nevertheless creatively explores how incorporating into our lives the Golden Rule (treat others as we would like others to treat …
SEVENTY years on from the Black Friday catastrophe of 1939, 173 Victorians died as the result of rampaging fire on the afternoon of February 7, 2009. Ten of these victims of Black Saturday perished in Steels Creek, a small and intimate community on the outskirts of Melbourne.
It is with the multifaceted effects on this close-knit community that this deeply moving and insightful book primarily deals.
As a military-social historian, Peter Stanley has long been fascinated by the ways in which bushfires resemble battles. As he explains, “both are chaotic, traumatic events; …
AT 11am on August 13, 1940, with Australia having been at war for almost a year, a dual-controlled Hudson bomber, the A16-97, crashed into a hillside near Canberra airport.
In what is still Canberra’s worst disaster in terms of loss of life, all 10 aboard died, including the chief of the general staff, Cyril Brudenell White, and three of Robert Gordon Menzies’ closest cabinet supporters: minister for the army Geoffrey Street, minister for air James Fairbairn and information minister Henry Gullett.
Perhaps the luckiest federal parliamentarian at the time was the minister …
MARK Bracegirdle was born in London on September 10, 1912. On Boxing Day 15 years later, he and his younger brother and their artistic mother, Ina, a suffragette and divorcee, arrived in Sydney, their move to Australia having been sponsored by the Salvation Army Migration Scheme.
A year later, Bracegirdle became a member of the Young Communist League, itself part of the recently formed Communist Party of Australia. However, his membership of the YCL may not have been widely known to Australian intelligence.
On April 4, 1936, Bracegirdle arrived by ship, the …
For years, the Scottish-born Jill Stark, who had her first sip of beer
at 13, was a binge-drinking health reporter. During the week, she wrote
about Australia’s alcohol-soaked culture for Melbourne’s ‘The Age’ and ‘The Sunday Age’. At the weekends, she usually wrote herself off.
Subtitled “My year without booze”, ‘High Sobriety’ is a brave and lively memoir charting Stark’s tumultuous 12 months on the wagon
which was prompted by a massive hangover at the age of 35. As Stark
recounts it, despite all the difficulties and the many internal and
external pressures, an alcohol-free 2011 …
AS a writer, Barry Dickins is like Bob Ellis – when he’s good he’s very, very good, but when he’s bad … he’s awful.
In ‘Lessons in Humility’, an often bizarre but allegedly ”true” story of his life as an English teacher, Dickins ranges from one to the other, and sometimes in between. The book, with illustrations by the author, is a veritable curate’s egg.
When Dickins, in 1970, completed his diploma of education at the Melbourne State College in Carlton, no one, he explains, had taught him ”how to stand …