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[6 Sep 2014 | No Comment | 69 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 | No Comment | 37 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 …

Columns »

[30 Aug 2014 | One Comment | 105 views ]

LAST year an independent, feature-length documentary, ‘The Anonymous People’, focused on the more than 23 million Americans living in long-term recovery from alcohol and other drug addictions.
For decades, deeply entrenched social stigma has kept the voices of recovery largely silent in the US and elsewhere in the Western world.
However, in this groundbreaking film, a cross-section of sportspeople, politicians, film stars and others came out publicly as recovered or recovering addicts. They explained how, through Alcoholics Anonymous and its offspring — including Narcotics Anonymous, Gamblers Anonymous, Overeaters Anonymous and other 12-step …

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[16 Aug 2014 | No Comment | 15 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 …

Columns »

[16 Aug 2014 | One Comment | 96 views ]

IN a remarkable and largely overlooked statement on Radio 3AW with Neil Mitchell on April 29, Tony Abbott admitted the war on drugs is “not a war we will ever finally win”.
“The war on drugs is a war you can lose,” the Prime Minister said. “You may not ever win it, but you’ve always got to fight it.”
This game-changing statement followed a press conference about the release of an Australian Crime Commission report on illicit drugs, which admitted that “despite record seizures and arrests we are still only detecting the …

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[9 Aug 2014 | No Comment | 16 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 …

Columns »

[2 Aug 2014 | No Comment | 50 views ]

IN Australia, Labor has been much better than the Liberals at remembering its history and, in the process, denigrating its opponents. Witness the sustained historical work of leading leftist historians, the prolific Professor Stuart Macintyre and Dr David Day — which in part at least has effectively undermined previous conservative governments, especially those of Robert Menzies and John Howard.
This is despite the fact that since the formation of the Liberal Party in 1944 the Coalition has been in power for two-thirds of the time — in particular, Menzies from 1949 …

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[24 Jul 2014 | No Comment | 205 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 …

Columns »

[21 Jul 2014 | No Comment | 28 views ]

Campbell Newman’s iron grip on Queensland government is now looking decidedly limp-wristed following the disastrous Stafford byelection result.
The Premier’s Liberal National Party suffered an 18.6 per cent swing in the Brisbane bayside electorate, Labor’s victory giving it a ninth MP in the Queensland Parliament.
Historian Ross Fitzgerald predicted Mr Newman would definitely lose his own seat of Ashgrove at the Queensland election, expected within 11 months.
”‘When they say the swing is on in Queensland, it goes bananas. And historically, it is most certainly is on,’’ Professor Fitzgerald said.
‘‘The Premier won the …