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[22 Apr 2016 | No Comment | 21 views ]

Review of ‘Heartfelt Moments in Australian Rules Football’, edited by Ross Fitzgerald, Connor Court, $32.95 & ‘From the Outer’, edited by Alicia Sometimes & Nicole Hayes, Black Inc, $27.99.
It may seem surprising – given that internet blogging and self-publishing have afforded anyone who feels they have something to say about football – that, for a long time, there was not a lot of published fan-writing on the game. Even on Australian football, which has held many people in its grip for generations.
One of the mottos of Australian football has been …

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[9 Apr 2016 | No Comment | 15 views ]

Review of ‘Growing Wild’
By Michael Wilding
Arcadia, 302pp, $39.95
“I do wish you would write your campus farce rather than live it all the time,” one of Michael Wilding’s colleagues once suggested. He proceeded to do both — though Wilding delayed publishing ‘Academia Nuts’ until he had safely taken early retirement.
Appointed to a lectureship at the University of Sydney in his 20s, the English-born Wilding encountered a strange new world, with figures such as Germaine Greer holding forth at morning tea about suckling her kitten in the bath. He also came …

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[5 Apr 2016 | No Comment | 15 views ]

Review of ‘Going Out Backwards: A Grafton Everest Adventure’.
By Ross Fitzgerald & Ian McFadyen, Hybrid Publishers, $26.95
Professor Dr Grafton Everest is said to be a ‘wonderful creation’. Depends on how you assimilate his tedious long-winded repartee.
This is not fact, but fiction: an incoherent academic accidently finds himself elected to the Australian Senate. What’s more, he has somehow ended up holding the balance of power. On top of it all, Australia is facing natural disaster from Tectonic Change.
It sounds like a familiar scenario, but Everest’s personal life does not run smoothly.
He …

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[28 Mar 2016 | No Comment | 29 views ]

It’s back. That unforgettable, almost indescribable roar that tingles your entire body any time you’re standing outside an AFL ground, and something monumental has just happened inside.
Whoooooooorrrrraaaahhhhhhhhhhhh … interspersed with the pounding of feet, jeers and cheers.
There is no other sound like it. It is frightening, but reassuring. Compelling, sucking you in. A little disconcerting, as it resembles a warning signal that a mob is about to become unruly, but still inviting you to be involved in our game. The Australian game.
You cannot help but rush towards the turnstiles to …

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[26 Mar 2016 | No Comment | 25 views ]

Heartfelt Moments in Australian Rules Football
Edited by Ross Fitzgerald
Connor Court, 251pp, $29.95
This book and its 37 essays reflect the nation’s enthusiasm for football and the incessant talk about it. All prime ministers and almost every child, it seems, have to support an AFL team, even if they scarcely know how the game is played.
We learn that in 1975, not long before he became prime minister, Malcolm Fraser was informed by John Elliott, a Liberal powerbroker, that he must publicly support a team: “I said, ‘It is simple Malcolm, you should …

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[2 Feb 2016 | No Comment | 36 views ]

‘The Secret War: Spies, Codes and Guerrillas 1939-1945.’
By Max Hastings
HarperCollins Publishing London 2015
ISBN: 9780007503742
ISBN 10: 0007503741
RRP – $32.99
Reviewed by Ross Fitzgerald
While almost all historical narratives, including the recent account of the intertwined lives of John and Sunday Reed, are of necessity tentative and speculative, as Sir Max Hastings argues in his most recent book, ‘The Secret War’, “they become far more so when spies are involved”.
As Hastings explains, when chronicling battles, writers can relatively reliably record how many ships were sunk and aircraft shot down, how much ground was won …

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[2 Feb 2016 | No Comment | 32 views ]

GRAFTON TAKES A TUMBLE
GOING OUT BACKWARDS: A GRAFTON EVEREST ADVENTURE
By Ross Fitzgerald & Ian McFadyen
Hybrid Publishers 2015
ISBN: 9781925272109
RRP – $26.9 pb
Reviewed by Gerard Henderson
Barry Humphries has described Grafton Everest as “a wonderful creation” in the same ranks as Philip Roth’s Portnoy and Kingsley Amis’s Lucky Jim.
Dr Everest (for a doctor he is) makes a welcome return in ‘Going Out Backwards: A Grafton Everest Adventure.’ This is the fifth appearance by Professor (for a professor he also is) Grafton in print. On this occasion via the combined work of Ross Fitzgerald …

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[30 Jan 2016 | No Comment | 32 views ]

‘Mind Beyond Matter
By Gavin Rowland
Burdock Books, 349pp, $30
As a devout atheist I’ve always been puzzled about why people believe in God. At the same time many of my God-believing friends are equally puzzled that I don’t believe in a deity that influences personal lives and world events.
I’ve never been at all clear about the notion of God, and in ‘Mind Beyond Matter’ clarity is not Gavin Rowland’s strong point either, with his writing style tending towards the opaque. But perhaps this lack of clear expression is not all that surprising …

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[2 Jan 2016 | No Comment | 17 views ]

POLITICS
Review of ‘Australia’s Second Chance: What Our History Tells Us about Our Future.’
GEORGE MEGALOGENIS
HAMISH HAMILTON, $34.99
Australian politics can be confusing. We’d probably all agree on that. But it has been this way for a long time. In fact in 1913 even the Russian revolutionary leader Vladimir Lenin found it so. After federal Labor’s narrow defeat by the Liberal Party’s Joseph Cook, Lenin, watching from afar, was baffled.
“What sort of peculiar capitalist country is this, in which the workers’ representatives predominate in the Upper House and, till recently, did so …

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[26 Dec 2015 | One Comment | 56 views ]

Review of ‘The Protest Years: The Official History of ASIO, 1963-1975’
JOHN BLAXLAND
ALLEN & UNWIN, $49.99
REVIEW BY ROSS FITZGERALD
The Australian Security Intelligence Organisation of 1975, at the end of the controversial federal Labor government of Gough Whitlam, was very different from 1963 when the long-serving Liberal prime minister Robert Menzies was still in power.
As John Blaxland explains in this rather pedestrian account of our signature intelligence agency, the so-called “Protest Years”, from the expulsion from Australia of the Soviet spy, Ivan Skripov​, in February 1963 to the ascension of …

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[19 Dec 2015 | No Comment | 20 views ]

Top 2 books for Summer – Gerard Henderson’s Media WatchDog No 300
1. How To Be Liked By Others by Fr Harry H.W. Wade C.SS.R. (Liguori Publications, Missouri, Circa 1960) [This provides important skills for dog owners who need to have a few inter-personal skills in order to undertake canine driven walks – and return home without being attacked on, say, Bay Road by the savage Dipsey.]

2. ‘Going Out Backwards: A Grafton Everest Adventure’ by Ross Fitzgerald and Ian McFadyen (Hybrid Publications, Melbourne, 2015). ‘Going Out Backwards’is also available as an …