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[6 Dec 2014 | No Comment | 9 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 | 23 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 | 17 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 …

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[11 Oct 2014 | No Comment | 26 views ]

REVIEW OF ‘Dick Hamer: The Liberal Liberal’
By Tim Colebatch
Scribe, 505pp, $59.99 (HB)
IN a strong field of recent political biographies and memoirs, this first published biography of Dick Hamer is a most welcome addition.
Hamer, a reformist, was Liberal premier of Victoria from 1972 to 1981 and, as with any biography, details of the times the subject lived in make it all the more fascinating.
Author Tim Colebatch writes that he envies American historian Robert Caro, who has spent the past 40 years researching and writing his still unfinished five-volume biography of former …

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[6 Sep 2014 | No Comment | 70 views ]

Review
‘What Did You Do in the Cold War, Daddy?’
Edited by Ann Curthoys and Joy Damousi
New South, 297pp, $34.99
THE Cold War dominated geopolitics in the years after World War II and, in the light of current events in Ukraine, some commentators think a new version of it is emerging. But as Vladimir Putin was shaped by earlier conflicts when he worked for the KGB that should come as no surprise.
As Ann Curthoys and Joy Damousi point out in their helpful introduction to this collection of fascinating personal stories from another …

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[31 Aug 2014 | One Comment | 59 views ]

REVIEW
POLITICS
HE WHO MUST BE OBEID
Kate McClymont and Linton Besser
Vintage, $34.99
In writing a lengthly book about a deeply corrupt politician whose tentacles extended throughout New South Wales, and beyond, Kate McClymont and Linton Besser have had to rely on assistance from almost every quarter of the nation. This includes a swag of sitting and former state and federal politicians who spoke to the prize-winning journalists on and off the record.
Former NSW Labor minister Edward Moses (“Eddie”) Obeid, a Lebanese Maronite Christian immigrant and former taxi driver with nine children, treated the …

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[16 Aug 2014 | No Comment | 21 views ]

POLITICS
The Fights of my Life
GREG COMBET, WITH MARK DAVIS
MELBOURNE UNIVERSITY PRESS, $32.99
Hockey: Not Your Average Joe
MADONNA KING
UNIVERSITY OF QUEENSLAND PRESS, $32.95
REVIEW BY ROSS FITZGERALD
When Greg Combet resigned from federal parliament last year, MUP’s indefatigable chief executive, Louise Adler, was on his case. She wanted him to write a book detailing his highly public roles in the Australian union movement and in the federal parliamentary Labor party.
The result may not be as sensational as Adler hoped, but ‘The Fights of my Life’ is certainly a …

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[9 Aug 2014 | No Comment | 18 views ]

Review of ‘Tony Windsor: The Biography.’
By Ruth Rae
Allen & Unwin, 336pp, $35
ACCORDING to author Ruth Rae, this book — an authorised biography of the former independent federal MP for New England, Tony Windsor — was written “because there was a gap in (our) political history”. Fair enough. But whether its subject, who before he was elected to federal parliament in 2001 had previously been an independently minded independent member in the NSW Legislative Assembly, deserves a 300-plus page treatment is moot.
What is indisputable is that Windsor, a popular state member …

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[24 Jul 2014 | No Comment | 917 views ]

Review of AUSTRALIA’S SECRET WAR: HOW UNIONS SABOTAGED OUR TROOPS IN WORLD WAR II BY HAL COLEBATCH
QUADRANT BOOKS
H/B, 2013, RRP $44.95 ISBN 9780980677874
It is useful to be reminded that, as a result of the Nazi-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact, signed on 21 August 1939, Hitler and Stalin were allies. This meant that, at that time, Australian Communists loyal to Moscow were obliged to support the German war machine.
As Hal G P Colebatch points out, in his provocative new book ‘Australia’s Secret War’, this arrangement lasted until Hitler invaded Russia on 22 June …