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[14 Mar 2015 | No Comment | 24 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 | 25 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 | 9 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 | 19 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 …

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[20 Dec 2014 | No Comment | 42 views ]

Review
‘The Nashos’ War: Australia’s National Servicemen and Vietnam’
By Mark Dapin
Viking, 470pp, $39.99 (HB)
DURING the Vietnam War almost 64,000 young Australians were drafted into national service across a seven-year period. Beginning on March 10, 1965, the “‘nashos’’ were chosen by chance, their birth dates drawn from a lottery barrel at the Department of Labour and National Service in Melbourne. As journalist and author Mark Dapin points out, not all of these conscripts were sent to Vietnam, but their random fate came to symbolise the war and divide a nation.
This fine book …

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[6 Dec 2014 | No Comment | 10 views ]

Private Bill: In Love and War
By Barrie Cassidy
MUP, 192pp, $29.99
WRITERS often hit their straps when they tackle subjects that have deep emotional resonance. So it is for Barrie Cassidy with his third book, Private Bill, a testament to his father.
Best known as press secretary to Bob Hawke when he was prime minister and now as host of the ABC’s Insiders program, Cassidy is also an accomplished author and this book is his best yet.
The hero of this beautifully conceived and multi-layered tale is his beloved father, Bill, who arrived on …

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[30 Nov 2014 | No Comment | 62 views ]

David Horner, The Spy Catchers. The Official History of ASIO, Volume 1, 1949 – 1963, Allen & Unwin: Sydney, 2014, pp 710, $59.99;
Val Noone and Rachel Naughton (eds), Daniel Mannix: His Legacy, Melbourne Diocesan Historical Commission: Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne, 2014, pp 178, $20;
Ann Moyal, A Woman Of Influence: Science, Men & History, University of Western Australia Press, 2014, pp 201, $34.99
AUSTRALIAN SECURITY INTELLIGENCE ORGANISATION (ASIO)
In 1943 the United States Army’s Signal Intelligence Service began intercepting and then decrypting Soviet cable traffic between KGB headquarters in Moscow and KGB officers …

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[22 Nov 2014 | No Comment | 22 views ]

Gallipoli
History
Gallipoli
PETER FITZSIMONS
William Heinemann, $49.99
Award-winning journalist and prolific author Peter FitzSimons has an enviable ability to bring history to life. In this, his 27th book, FitzSimons takes us deep into the disastrous Gallipoli campaign and spells out in detail the fateful steps that led Australian and New Zealand soldiers to utter devastation, if not absolute despair.
When the Allied forces landed on the Gallipoli Peninsula in what is now Turkey, at dawn on April 25, 1915, the plan was to secure the Dardanelles, thus allowing the Imperial Fleet to go all the …