The State of the Nation? Take Two Books and Call Me in the Morning

The Near Future?

The Near Future?

What the hell has happened to politics in Australia?

Never before have I felt so repulsed by the goings-on in our various parliaments. The last few years have left me feeling completely disenfranchised.

I am certain good work has been done in that time, but how would I know? The coverage of politics has been less about the ideas being debated and more about the personalities debating them. Corruption, lies, broken promises and slogans.

If you, like me, feel completely out of the loop, the only way left open to us is something called ‘the book’. A book is nothing like a tweet, does not resemble a headline on the SMH app, but is a bit like a long article in a magazine – the kind few people read to the very end – only more considered and thoughtful because they are often carefully researched and written and rewritten over a long period of time. Books also give those who have lived interesting, productive and public lives the opportunity to expand upon the subject of their life and to argue more fully the ideas which mean and meant most to them.

And this year is officially the year of the political bestseller. Don’t believe me? Take a look below. (Oh, and expect the unexpected, too. No one is talking about a Kevin Rudd memoir, which suggests there’ll be a Kevin Rudd memoir. Probably released the day before Julia Gillard’s much anticipated and publicised memoir. That would be the likely plan, wouldn’t it?)


Biographies

COMING SOON:
The Menzies Era by John Howard

menzies eraAn assessment of Australia’s longest-serving Prime Minister by Australia’s second-longest serving Prime Minister – a significant, unique and fascinating history of the Menzies era. Fresh from the success of his phenomenal bestselling memoir, Lazarus Rising, which has sold over 100,000 copies, John Howard now turns his attention to one of the most extraordinary periods in Australian history, the Menzies era, canvassing the longest unbroken more…

 

 

OUT NOW:

hockeyHockey: Not your Average by Madonna King
While thousands of viewers watched Joe Hockey’s approachable persona each week on Channel 7’s Sunrise, there is a lot more to the Australian Treasurer than meets the eye. After embarking on his political career as a student, Hockey worked tirelessly to rise through the ranks of the Liberal Party – learning some pivotal lessons along the way and earning himself more…

 

 

gravityGravity by Mary Delahunty 

Julia Gillard, Australia’s 27th Prime Minister, defied political gravity. From the start she walked a political tightrope. As Australia’s first female Prime Minister, leading a minority government corroded by internal treachery, Julia Gillard juggled this trifecta defying political gravity for 3 years and 3 days. How did she do it? Why did she fascinate an international audience? Then Julia Gillard PM vanished, before we really knew her. Who is this woman more…

 

Tony Windsor by Ruth Rae

tony-windsor

Tony Windsor’s childhood was disrupted by the tragic death of his father, but the fortitude of his widowed mother, Ruth, as she battled to maintain the family farm while bringing up three sons, was to remain an inspiration to him throughout his life.

As an adult, Windsor’s understanding of the issues facing his rural constituency motivated him to become a political voice for those who love the land, from farmers to environmentalists, from rich to poor.

After failing to gain pre-selection as a National Party candidate, Windsor decided to run as an independent, whereupon he won more…


Memoirs

COMING SOON:

the-fights-of-my-lifeThe Fights of my Life by Greg Combet and Mark Davis

A call to arms in the fight for fairness and justice

Greg Combet has been at the centre of some of the biggest battles of our time—the waterfront dispute, the collapse of an airline, compensation for asbestos victims, the campaign against unfair workplace laws and then climate change. From an isolated childhood on the Minchinbury estate west of Sydney, Combet’s world changed dramatically with the early death of his father, a wine-maker.

Facing many challenges, he rose to lead the Australian trade union movement and become a senior minister in the Rudd and Gillard Labor governments. Along the way he has struggled with more…

Optimism: Reflections on a life of action by Bob Brown

optimism

“It is a fortunate life if a person feels more optimistic than ever before. That’s me.” – Bob Brown.

Bob Brown, former Senator and Parliamentary Leader of the Australian Greens, is one of Australia’s most thoughtful and recognized public figures. Since his retirement from public life in 2012, Bob has had time to consider the things that are truly important. One is the power of human thought to influence change and this book, the first time that Bob has spoken about his life since retirement, illustrates through his stories why more…

my-storyMy Story by Julia Gillard

‘I was Prime Minister for three years and three days.Three years and three days of resilience.Three years and three days of changing the nation.Three years and three days for you to judge.’

On Wednesday 23rd June 2010, with the government in turmoil, Julia Gillard asked then Prime Minister Kevin Rudd for a leadership ballot.

The next day, Julia Gillard became Australia’s 27th Prime Minister, and our first female leader. Australia was alive to the historic possibilities. Here was a new approach for a new time.

It was to last three extraordinary years.

This is Julia Gillard’s chronicle of that turbulent time more…

The Good Fight by Wayne Swan

the-good-fight

A highly personal account of the Rudd and Gillard governments from the heart of the Cabinet and the real story of how Australia avoided the Great Recession from the man recognised as the best treasurer in the world

This is Wayne Swan’s very personal account of an extraordinary period in Australian politics.

Despite the divisions within the Labor Party as the Rudd government fell into disunity and as Julia Gillard was undermined by disloyalty from within, Wayne Swan steered the Australian economy through a time of unprecedented international economic challenges.

He tells how he nurtured an economy that more…

inside the hawke keatingInside the Hawke-Keating Government by Gareth Evans

As good as it gets in Australian politics.

As good as it gets in Australian politics. That’s how the Hawke-Keating Government is now widely regarded. But how did this highly able, ambitious, strong-willed group work through its crises and rivalries, and achieve what it did?

Gareth Evans’ diary, written in the mid-1980s and published now for the first time, is the consummate insider’s account. It not only adds much new material to the historical record, but is perceptive, sharp and unvarnished in its judgments, lucidly written, and often highly entertaining.

OUT NOW:

the-independent-member-for-lyneThe Independent Member for Lyne by Rob Oakeshhot

From his apprenticeship in the NSW Parliament to the last days of the Gillard government, this is the honest and real story of life in Australian politics. Passionate, vivid and immediate, full of insights and anecdotes, Rob Oakeshott tells it as it was.

When the results of the 2010 federal elections became known, no party had a majority in the House of Representatives – it was the first hung parliament for 40 years. So both the Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, and the Leader of the Opposition, Tony Abbott, set about wooing the independents – Tony Windsor, Rob Oakeshott, Bob Katter, Andrew Wilkie, and Adam Bandt of the Greens. In the end more…

Diary of a Foreign Minister by Bob Carr

diary-of-a-foreign-minister

Six years after vacating his position as the longest-serving Premier of New South Wales, Bob Carr returned to politics in his dream job: as Foreign Minister of Australia and a senior federal cabinet minister.

For 18 months he kept a diary documenting a whirl of high-stakes events on the world stage – the election of Australia to the UN Security Council, the war in Syria and meetings with the most powerful people on the planet. And they all unfold against the gripping, uncertain domestic backdrop of more…


Commentary

COMING SOON:

9780522862102Triumph and Demise: The Broken Promise of a Labour Generation by Paul Kelly

Triumph and Demise is the inside account of the hopes, achievements and bitter failures of the Labor Government from 2007 to 2013. Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard came together, defeated John Howard, formed a brilliant partnership and raised the hopes of a nation, yet fell into disagreements, tensions and then hostilities under the pressures of politics and policy.

Veteran journalist Paul Kelly probes the dynamics of the Rudd-Gillard alliance and dissects what tore them apart. He shows that the tragedy of Rudd and Gillard is that both should have been better Prime Ministers, yet more…

OUT NOW:

the-political-bubbleThe Political Bubble: Why Australians don’t trust politics by Mark Latham

Australians once trusted the democratic process. While we got on with our lives, we assumed our politicians had our best interests at heart. Not anymore. That trust has collapsed. Mark Latham joined the Labor Party in the late 1970s hoping to improve people’s lives through parliamentary service. Twenty-five years later, the Opposition Leader ended up as disillusioned as the rest of us. The scorching honesty of The Latham Diaries ensured he’d burned his political bridges, but ostracism from the Canberra Club has more…

the-rise-and-fall-of-australiaThe Rise and Fall of Australia by Nick Bryant

A forensic look at the Lucky Country, from the inside and outside.

Never before has Australia enjoyed such economic, commercial, diplomatic and cultural clout. Its recession-proof economy is the envy of the world. It’s the planet’s great lifestyle superpower. Its artistic exports win unprecedented acclaim. But never before has its politics been so brutal, narrow and facile, as well as being such a global laughing stock. A positive national story is at odds with a deeply unattractive Canberra story.

The country should be enjoying The Australian Moment, so vividly described by more…


Fiction

OUT NOW:

the-mandarin-code-pre-order-now-for-a-signed-copy-The Mandarin Code by Steve Lewis, Chris Uhlmann

*For a limited time only, Pre-order The Mandarin Code and you will receive a signed copy. Hurry, stocks won’t last!

Politics peeled bare. The second darkly satirical thriller from the authors of The Marmalade Files.

POLITICS JUST GOT DEADLY. A body pulled from the murky waters of Lake Burley Griffin links Canberra, Beijing and Washington in a titanic struggle where war is just a mouse click away. Veteran reporter Harry Dunkley is chasing the scoop of his career, hunting for his best friend’s killer. Navigating treacherous political waters where a desperate minority government edges ever closer to more…

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

——————————-

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

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