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[29 Mar 2014 | No Comment | 35 views ]

CORRUPTION
‘Jacks and Jokers’
Matthew Condon
University of Queensland Press, $29.95
Brisbane author and journalist Matthew Condon has produced a highly readable, well-researched and multi-layered expose of police and political malfeasance in the Sunshine State. Following on from the widely praised ‘Three Crooked Kings’, ‘Jacks and Jokers’ begins in mid-1976. Exiled in the dusty western Queensland town of Charleville, Inspector Terence (”Terry”) Lewis is soon to be controversially appointed by the Bjelke-Petersen government as deputy commissioner, and then rapidly as commissioner of police.
As Condon makes clear, Lewis was aided and encouraged in his ascendancy …

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[22 Feb 2014 | No Comment | 24 views ]

FOR self-confessed cricket tragic Barry Nicholls, there’s only one sport that teaches the lessons of life. Nicholls, a former first-grade player in his home state South Australia, discovered the joys of cricket, and of radio, by listening to the Test match commentaries of Alan McGilvray on the BBC. Now presenter of ‘Statewide Drive’ on ABC Local Radio in Western Australia, Nicholls also hosts “110 per cent”, a sport books segment on ABC ‘Radio’s Grandstand’.
He is adamant that cricket has taught him much about what really matters. One of the main …

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[30 Nov 2013 | No Comment | 414 views ]

AS a child, I was obsessed with mermaids. As I got older, I was also much taken with selkies: seals, who on coming ashore, so the legend goes, shed their skins to become human. The 1994 film ‘The Secret of Roan Inish’ is based on this myth.
So imagine my delight when I came across ‘The Mermaid Coast’, the debut novel of US-based Australian writer Robert Woolcott. Set mainly in East Hampton on New York’s Long Island, this enthralling tale begins in a mansion with the discovery of the body of …

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[16 Nov 2013 | No Comment | 1,131 views ]

MIKE Carlton is a well-known journalist and broadcaster who has a passion for naval history. His previous book, ‘Cruiser’, the story of the HMAS Perth in World War II, was a bestseller.
For his follow-up, Carlton initially had planned to write an account of the short and bloody 1914 sea battle between the dreaded German raider Emden, which had been wreaking havoc on the maritime trade of the British Empire, and the HMAS Sydney, the result of which represented an emphatic, and widely celebrated, first victory for the newborn Royal Australian …

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[12 Oct 2013 | No Comment | 1,364 views ]

The life and times of newly minted politician Clive Palmer.
Review by Ross Fitzgerald
There is something about Queensland that produces unusual and larger than life characters, especially in the field of politics.
In early December, 1899, if only for a week, Queensland boasted the first Labor government in the world.
From 1944 to 1950, for the seat of Bowen, Fred Paterson, known in Queensland as “the people’s champion”, was elected as Australia’s first and only Communist Party member of parliament.
Then there was the authoritarian Labor premier E.G. (”Ned”) Hanlon, who not only rigged …

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[28 Sep 2013 | No Comment | 370 views ]

TONY Hardy’s punchy biography of legendary Australian rules footballer Jack Dyer, published to mark his centenary, plays a bit fast and loose with reality. Right up front Hardy admits he has “invented some conversations, created minor characters and very occasionally shifted chronology” to produce “a mostly truthful telling” of the Richmond Football Club champion’s life story.
Indeed he confesses that one character who appears throughout the book, called “The Patient”, is invented. This is an extremely patient, always hoping, dyed-in-the-wool Richmond supporter whose ongoing obsessional nightmare is the hated rival club …

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[17 Sep 2013 | No Comment | 482 views ]

Ross Fitzgerald reviews books on Bill Woodfull, Old Xaverians Football Club, Footy Town and Madeleine St John
WOODFULL
Faced with reviewing four books it seems fitting that a cricket tragic should turn his attention first to Alan Gregory’s finely nuanced biography of former Australian cricket captain, Bill Woodfull.
Born William Maldon Woodfull in Maldon, Victoria in 1897 – the son of a Methodist country parson – he had a first-class batting average of 64.99, including 49 centuries.
However Woodfull is best known for being an extremely successful Test cricket captain (God knows we need …

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[14 Sep 2013 | No Comment | 508 views ]

THIS self-published biography of the Tasmanian biologist who sired one of Australia’s greatest movie stars is a gem. With an excellent index and a revealing series of photographs, the thoroughly researched book is a credit to Hobart couple Vicki and Tony Harrison, who went down the self-publishing route after being unable to interest a commercial publisher.
Theodore Thomson Flynn was born in Coraki in northern NSW in 1883. He came from a modest background and at 15 started work as a pupil-teacher in country NSW. After completing his studies at the …

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[17 Aug 2013 | No Comment | 1,238 views ]

Soon after his book was published, Andrew Leigh – a former economics professor at the Australian National University, and federal Labor MP for the ACT seat of Fraser since August 2010 – was dropped from Kevin Rudd’s frontbench. Previously parliamentary secretary to prime minister Julia Gillard, Leigh is a prolific author, which, on the face of it, seems hard to reconcile with being a fully engaged member of Federal Parliament.
Subtitled ‘The Story of Inequality in Australia’, in some ways ‘Battlers and Billionaires’ is a peculiar book. Written with the aid …