Nelson Mandela Passes Away, Aged 95

Nelson Mandela on Day After ReleaseFormer South African President and anti-apartheid revolutionary Nelson Mandela has died peacefully at his Johannesburg home after a prolonged lung infection.

His contribution to the world was immense, becoming the first black South African President and a key figure in ending the brutal apartheid regime that had ruled the country since 1948.

After becoming a lawyer, he was repeatedly arrested for anti-government activities and, with the ANC leadership, was charged with treason several times between 1956 and 1961 although never convicted. In 1962 he was arrested, convicted of sabotage and conspiracy to overthrow the government, and sentenced to life imprisonment.

Mandela served 27 years in prison, first on Robben Island, and later in Pollsmoor Prison and Victor Verster Prison. An international campaign lobbied for his release, which was granted in 1990 amid escalating civil strife. Becoming ANC President, Mandela published his autobiography Long Walk to Freedom and led negotiations with President F.W. de Klerk to abolish apartheid and establish multiracial elections in 1994, in which he led the ANC to victory.

He was elected President and formed a Government of National Unity in an attempt to diffuse ethnic tensions. As President, he established a new constitution and initiated the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to investigate past human rights abuses. His administration also introduced measures to encourage land reform, combat poverty and expand healthcare services. He declined to run for a second term, preferring to focus on charitable work in combating poverty and HIV/AIDS through the Nelson Mandela Foundation.

He received international acclaim for his anti-colonial and anti-apartheid stance, having received over 250 awards, including the 1993 Nobel Peace Prize and the US Presidential Medal of Freedom.

For the full list of books about or by Nelson Mandela click here

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: John Howard on Misogyny, Paul Keating, and the new edition of Lazarus Rising

When former Prime Minister John Howard visited Booktopia, John Purcell took the chance to ask him the hard questions in a rare and candid interview.

The Johns discuss Julia Gillard’s misogyny speech, his role in the rise of Tony Abbott, the controversial WorkChoices legislation, as well as his views on his Prime Ministerial predecessor Paul Keating and the future of Australian education.

Grab a signed copy of Lazarus Rising : Revised & Updated here

Lazarus Rising: Revised & Updated

John Howard’s autobiography, Lazarus Rising, is the biggest-selling political memoir Australia has seen.

In it he talks about his love for his family, his rollercoaster ride to the Lodge and how – as prime minister – he managed a strongly growing Australian economy and led Australia’s war on terrorism.

Drawing on his deep interest in history, he paints a fascinating picture of a changing Australia.

In this edition, fully updated to take into account the return of the Liberal National Party to government after the 2013 election, Howard analyses the crucial years between the 2010 election which gave rise to the minority government of Julia Gillard, and the consequent unprecedented and destabilising leadership struggles within the Labor party.

He discusses the significance of Tony Abbott’s achievements in defeating the Labor Government in 2013, and provides a masterful summary of legacy of the Rudd/Gillard years for Australia.

Lazarus Rising is essential reading for all followers of politics.

Grab a signed copy of Lazarus Rising : Revised & Updated here

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Mark Greig, son of Tony Greig, talks about his new book Tony Greig : Love, War and Cricket

Grab a copy of Tony Greig : Love, War and Cricket here

Tony Greig: Love, War and Cricket

by Mark Greig and Joyce Greig

Tony Greig was a fearless cricketer, a born entertainer, a stalwart friend and a loving son and father. His death in December 2012 was met with an outpouring of grief from friends, family, fans and colleagues alike. Summer in Australia will never be the same.

This enthralling memoir begins in Tony’s birthplace, South Africa, as his mother Joyce embarks on an extraordinary war time love affair with a man not her husband, Sandy Greig. Tony’s life encompassed more than half a century of cricket, from school boy cricket in his beloved South Africa, to his early days in Sussex, through to his captaincy of England. Whether he was loved or hated, on or off the field, all respected the big man’s courageous spirit and skills as an all-rounder. Through his controversial friendship with Kerry Packer and his involvement in World Series Cricket, Tony helped change the game forever. Turning from foe to friend, Tony won over Australian audiences becoming one of the most beloved sports commentators of all time. A legend beyond the cricket pitch, Tony’s enthralling story is told by the people who knew him best, his mother Joyce and his son Mark.

An intriguing and charming family memoir of one of Australia’s favourite adopted sons.

Grab a copy of Tony Greig : Love, War and Cricket here

Review of Michael Fullilove’s Rendezvous with Destiny by Terry Purcell

Michael Fullilove’s Rendezvous with Destiny has been met with glowing reviews from all quarters. Terry Purcell shares his thoughts.

In 1939, America was nervous and parochial; yet in 1940, she began to re-arm and re-mobilise; and by the end of 1941 she was at war and her course was set towards global leadership.

This important new book by the Lowy Institute’s Michael Fullilove commences when Franklin Delano Roosevelt was still leading his predominantly isolationist country out of the Great Depression and despite ill health was still weighing up whether he should run for an unprecedented third Presidential term.

However, Germany’s invasion of Poland on the first of September 1939 made Roosevelt realise that he had to continue to lead America.  Once re-elected he needed to quickly acquire a deeper understanding of what was really happening in Europe, the nature of any threat it might pose for the US, and whether there was any possibility of a negotiated peace.

The focus of Rendezvous with Destiny is on the steps Roosevelt took through the astute appointment of 5 special envoys during 1940 and 1941 with both Democrat and Republican backgrounds to undertake this task.  He relied on five uncommon individuals – a well-bred diplomat, a Republican lawyer, a political fixer, a former presidential candidate and a tycoon.

The first sent was Under Secretary of the State Department Sumner Welles who visited France, Germany and Great Britain during “the phony war” in early 1940 in order to see whether Hitler had any interest peace. He also wanted to get a firsthand understanding of the capacity of France and Great Britain to respond to German’s threats and the role Italy might play.

While little overtly came from this initial foray, Roosevelt had a much better understanding of unfolding tragedy in Europe which was confirmed by the fall of France within weeks of Welles’s return.

Welles was followed in July and August 1940 by Republican war hero and lawyer “Wild Bill” Donovan to see if the British could hold out against a German invasion.

Next to go was Roosevelt’s most trusted aide and long term adviser Harry Hopkins in January 1941 to assess Britain’s needs and also to help Roosevelt get a better understanding the new idiosyncratic British Prime Minister Winston Churchill.

This was to be the first of several missions Roosevelt sent the ailing Hopkins on during that year including visiting the Soviet leader Stalin to assess USSR’s capacity to withstand the German invasion and how the US could assist in terms of arms and munitions.

Hopkins’s first visit was quickly followed by defeated Republican Presidential candidate Wendell Wilkie sent to shore up support for Roosevelt’s Lend Lease program, the proposed basis for supplying Britain with much needed armaments, oil and food.

The final representative was Averell Harriman, a wealthy and politically ambitious Democrat with extensive management experience.  He was sent by Roosevelt to ensure the smooth running of Lend Lease program to ensure the British got what they needed, initially to defend themselves against invasion, and then to carry the fight to Germany in North Africa.

Taken together, the missions plot the arc of America’s transformation from a reluctant middle power into the global leader.

Of the five envoys, Harry Hopkins was the real star of Roosevelt’s strategy, who, despite ill health and no foreign relations experience, was the person charged with establishing a basis of trust and gathering vital intelligence initially with Churchill and later with Stalin.  Roosevelt knew neither and politically or personally had little in common with them as individuals, yet Hopkins’s judgment, charm, high intelligence and self-effacing nature ensured that a strong working relationship was quickly established between these truly unlikely allies at a time the world needed them working together.

Fullilove’s influential book is a highly recommended good read and fills many gaps in the understanding of Roosevelt’s leadership and vision in preparing America for war, a role long overshadowed by the later victories in Europe and in the Pacific and by the cold war struggle which so dominated the headlines for the next fifty years.

Click here to buy Rendezvous with Destiny from Booktopia,
Australia’s Local Bookstore

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Terry Purcell is a solicitor and was the founding director of the Law Foundation of NSW and is a regular contributor to The Booktopia Blog.

The Election Collection: Books To Make Voting Easier #ausvotes

All Australians over the age of eighteen must vote in the Federal Election on 7th September, 2013. Surprisingly, there are many voters who have yet to decide who they will vote for. Some seem completely perplexed.

Never fear, The Election Collection is here. A fail-safe guide to the election using one of humankind’s greatest achievements – the book. Yes, the book.

Who knew the humble book could help you make a decision?

Chris BowenThe Labor Party

Pros:

RuddBotCons:

Further reading: Change We Can Believe In: Barak Obama’s Plan To Renew America’s Promise by Barack Obama, A Journey : Tony Blair, Back To Work: Why We Need Smart Government for a Strong Economy by Bill Clinton.


Tony AbbottThe Liberals

Pros:

Tony SpeaksCons:

Further reading: Decision Points by George W. Bush, When Things Went Right: The Dawn of the Reagan-Bush Administration by Chase Untermeyer,  Not for Turning : The Life of Margaret Thatcher by Robin Harris.


Gone but not forgotten

The Greens

Pros:

Cons:

Further reading: The Rabbits by John Marsden & Shaun Tan, Watership Down by Richard Adams


Julian AssangeWikiLeaks Party

Pros:

Cons:

Further reading: Dreaming Too Loud From Arthur Philip to Julian Assange by Geoffrey Robertson


an-incredible-race-of-peopleKatter’s Australian Party

Pros:

Cons:

Further reading: They’re a Weird Mob by Nino Culotta


Clive PalmerPalmer United Party

Pros:

Cons:

Further reading: Raise the Titanic by Clive Cussler


independentsIndependents

Pros:

Cons:

  • The Outsider  by Albert Camus
    Further reading: Independent People by Halldor Laxness

    The Donkey Vote

    The Pros and Cons in One Song

Stephen Fry Calls On Great Britain To Boycott 2014 Winter Games In Russia

Last night Stephen Fry posted an open letter on his blog to David Cameron, Sebastian Coe and members of the IOC, asking them to boycott the next Winter Olympics, due to be held in Russia in 2014.

Fry’s comparison of Vladimir Putin’s current stance on the LGBT community to Hitler’s treatment of Jews during the 1936 Berlin Olympics is terrifying. As he states, “…the notorious Berlin Olympiad…provided a stage for a gleeful Führer and only increased his status at home and abroad”.

Putin’s stance on Gay Rights is utterly disgraceful, and Stephen Fry has once again used his intellect and influence for betterment of society, hopefully to some effect. Let’s hope the UK government listen, and let’s hope the Australian Government do so as well. Continue reading

My Five Must Read Books On Politics: A Guest Blog From Aaron Patrick

Aaron Patrick, author of the brilliant book Downfall: How the Labor Party Ripped Itself Apart is not only an bestselling writer on politics, but also an avid reader.

He was kind enough to share his five must read titles for those with a keen interest in the world of politics. Enjoy!

Continue reading

Rudd v Abbott by David Marr: A Must Have For Election 2013

Kevin Rudd and Tony Abbott have resumed battle for leadership of the nation. Here, in one volume, are their definitive portraits by Australia’s pre-eminent biographer and investigative journalist, David Marr.

Power Trip shows the making of Kevin Rudd, from the formative tragedy of his life – the death of his father – to his years as Wayne Goss’s right-hand man, his relentless work in federal Opposition and finally his record as prime minister. Throughout Rudd’s life, Marr finds recurring patterns: a tendency to chaos, a mania for control, a strange mix of heady ambition and retreat – and what has so far been an unbreakable bond with the public.

‘David Marr is as brilliant a biographer and journalist as this country has produced.’
– Peter Craven, Spectator Australia

In Political Animal, Marr examines the question that Australians are asking of Tony Abbott: what kind of man is he and how might he run the country? Part fighter and part charmer, Abbott is deeply religious and deeply political. What happens when his values clash with his absolute determination to win? That is the great puzzle of a career that began as a wild university politician in the 1970s and seeks culmination in the prime ministership.

Rudd v. Abbott is an essential companion for voters as they consider who should take control of Australia’s future.

Click here to buy Rudd v Abbott from Booktopia,
Australia’s Local Bookstore

The Stalking of Julia Gillard by Kerry-Anne Walsh

The story of one of the most extraordinary episodes in recent Australian political history, of how a powerful media pack, a vicious commentariat and some of those within her own party contrived to bring down Australia’s first woman prime minister.

‘Don’t write crap. Can’t be that hard. And when you have written complete crap, then I think you should correct it.’ Julia Gillard

When Julia Gillard took the reins of the Australian Labor Party on 24 June 2010 she did so with the goodwill of the majority of her party and a fawning Canberra press gallery.

The man she had supplanted, Kevin Rudd, led an isolated band of angry Labor voices at this surprising turn of events. The collective political and media verdict was that his time, short though it had been, was up. But when Gillard announced in February 2011 that her government would introduce a carbon pricing scheme, Rudd and his small team of malcontents were already in lock-step with key Canberra and interstate journalists in a drive to push her out of the prime ministerial chair.

Never has a prime minister been so assiduously stalked. Cast as a political liar and policy charlatan, Julia Gillard was also mercilessly and relentlessly lampooned for her hair, clothes, accent, her arse, even the way she walks and talks. Rudd, on the other hand, could barely do any wrong. His antics were afforded benign, unquestioning prime-time media coverage.

The Stalking of Julia Gillard focuses on Team Rudd and the media’s treatment of its slow-death campaign of destabilisation, with its disastrous effect on Gillard and the government’s functioning. It is about a politician who was never given a fair go; not in the media, not by Rudd, not by some in caucus.

Click here to buy The Stalking of Julia Gillard from Booktopia,
Australia’s Local Bookstore

About the Author

Kerry-Anne Walsh worked for 25 years in the federal parliamentary press gallery, as chief political correspondent for publications such as the Daily Telegraph, the Bulletin magazine and the Sun-Herald. She also wrote for a string of international publications, and worked in both radio and TV. She is a regular political commentator on Sky News, Radio New Zealand and the ABC.

Tim Fischer, author of Holy See, Unholy Me, answers Ten Terrifying Questions

The Booktopia Book Guru asks

Tim Fischer

author of Holy See, Unholy Me and many more…

Ten Terrifying Questions

1. To begin with why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself – where were you born? Raised? Schooled?

I was born at Lockhart in the Riverina, south eastern Australia in 1946 as a baby boomer, and went to school at Boree Creek and Melbourne. I served in the Army before being elected at age 24 to the NSW State Parliament and then later the Federal Parliament of Australia. For a decade I was Federal Nationals leader and for a period of this Deputy PM and Trade Minister, later Ambassador to the Holy See or Vatican. Continue reading

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