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[15 Dec 2018 | No Comment | 4 views ]

Review
‘Mutiny on the Bounty’
By Peter FitzSimons
Hachette Australia, 613pp, $49.99 (HB)
‘Mutiny, Mayhem, Mythology: Bounty’s Enigmatic Voyage’
By Alan Frost
Sydney University Press, 336pp, $40
‘By Sea & Stars: The Story of the First Fleet’
By Trent Dalton
Fourth Estate, 138pp, $24.99 (HB)
by ROSS FITZGERALD
It’s an epic tale of human frailty and alleged tyranny that has fascinated us for two centuries. The mutiny on the Bounty may have occurred in a remote part of the western Pacific on April 28, 1789, but it is well known and not just by history buffs.
The Bounty continues …

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[8 Dec 2018 | No Comment | 8 views ]

Review:
‘King of the Air: The Turbulent Life of Charles Kingsford Smith’
By Ann Blainey
Black Inc, 377pp, $49.99 (HB)
by Ross Fitzgerald
If you happen to be in Brisbane rushing to or from the airport, take a slight detour on Airport Drive and have a look at the Kingsford Smith Memorial. It’s a hidden treasure that most travellers pass by.
Dedicated to our greatest aviator, Charles Kingsford Smith, the memorial features his preserved Southern Cross aeroplane. Brisbane Airport is a custodian of this important relic for the commonwealth and the memorial is free …

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[1 Dec 2018 | No Comment | 7 views ]

Review
‘Honeysuckle Creek: The Story of Tom Reid, a Little Dish and Neil Armstrong’s First Step’
By Andrew Tink
NewSouth, 264pp, $34.99
by ROSS FITZGERALD
Stories about the first men on the moon continue to attract our attention. Those of us who were alive at the time probably remember exact­ly where we were and what we were doing when the Apollo 11 moon mission’s lunar module ‘Eagle’ landed on July 20, 1969, at 20:17 UTC.
This story is on screen at the moment in the moving film ‘First Man’ starring Ryan Gosling as Neil Armstrong, the …

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[1 Dec 2018 | No Comment | 11 views ]

Review
‘John Curtin’s War. Volume II: Triumph and Decline’
John Edwards
​Viking, $49.99
by ROSS FITZGERALD
History has a surprising way of coming up with individuals who seem able to face momentous challenges on behalf of us all. As we used to say, cometh the hour, cometh the man.
Britain had Winston Churchill when it needed him and we had John Curtin. The first volume of John Edwards highly accessible John Curtin’s War showed us how Curtin was the right man at the right time, even if – like all of us – at times he …

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[19 Nov 2018 | No Comment | 19 views ]

Let Him Eat Cake
by Richard Laidlaw
Review of Ross Fitzgerald and Antony Funnell,’So Far, So Good : An Entertainment'(Hybrid Books, Melbourne, 2018)
IT must be very difficult being a political satirist these days. So many politicians, to a man and woman, get underfoot with plots that would outdo a Goon Show episode and leave their writers wringing their hands in frustration: Why couldn’t we think of that?
So we owe a deep debt of gratitude to Griffith University historian professor Ross Fitzgerald and ABC broadcaster Antony Funnell for giving us …

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[6 Oct 2018 | No Comment | 35 views ]

‘The House’
By Helen Pitt
Allen & Unwin, 411pp, $32.99
Review by ROSS FITZGERALD
It’s one of the great untold Australian stories and it just happens to be about a Dane. A month after the death of Jorn Utzon in 2008, journalist Helen Pitt emailed publisher Richard Walsh, who was once her boss at ‘The Bulletin’. She thought he might be interested in a book about Utzon, the architect who designed the Sydney Opera House.
Pitt reckoned, rightly as it turns out, that it might be time for a narrative nonfiction book about the Utzon …

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[29 Sep 2018 | No Comment | 24 views ]

JACKIE’S OLD BONES
OR HOW, HALF A CENTURY AGO, ESSENDON WAS ROBBED OF A GRAND FINAL WIN AGAINST CARLTON — DUE TO THE FALL
Jackie’s (male) co-owner has never got over two disappointments in his life. Firstly, the fact that star Essendon full-forward John Coleman was disqualified for four matches having been found guilty by the Victorian Football League Tribunal of striking Carlton’s Harry Caspar in the last home-and-away game for 1951 — at Princes Park in Carlton. Caspar hit Coleman first — he was suspended for four matches. And Coleman received …

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[8 Sep 2018 | No Comment | 37 views ]

Review
‘Sex, Drugs and the Electoral Roll’
By Fiona Patten
Allen & Unwin, 366pp, $32.99
by ROSS FITZGERALD
Most political memoirs should come with a warning that there might be boring bits. Fiona ­Patten’s is anything but boring. Indeed, and I know this is a big call, it may well be the most unusual and provocative political memoir to written to date by a sitting member of an Australian parliament.
First a disclaimer: at the 2016 federal election I was the lead Senate candidate in NSW for ­Patten’s Australian Sex Party. And shortly ­before I met …

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[28 Aug 2018 | No Comment | 48 views ]

Edward Cranswick
The 1066 Committee and All That
‘So Far, So Good’
by Ross Fitzgerald & Antony Funnell
Hybrid Publishers, 2018, 214 pages, $22.95
I think it was Salman Rushdie who once opined that the Thatcher era was a great time for satire.
The whiff of ideology is a godsend for the able pen —satire the means by which we create distance from our partisan hallucinations. The same has not held true —or at least not true enough— in our own time.
If satire works by stretching a social or political tendency to its (preposterous) logical conclusion, …

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[11 Aug 2018 | No Comment | 28 views ]

Sons of Guns: Inspiring True Stories from Great Footballing Families
By Matt Watson
Michael Joseph, 278pp, $34.99
Reviewed by ROSS FITZGERALD
When Collingwood, the mighty Magpies, won four Victorian Football League premierships in a row in the late 1920s, my father Bill (“Long Tom”) Fitzgerald played more than 100 games for the seconds. Yet he never pulled on a jumper for the firsts.
Even so, what he did instil in me was an abiding love of the club. Also he taught me that — win, lose, …

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[4 Aug 2018 | No Comment | 43 views ]

Review : ‘Best We Forget: The War for White Australia, 1914-18’
By Peter Cochrane
Text, 264pp, $32.99
by ROSS FITZGERALD
Peter Cochrane’s ‘Best We Forget’ is unsettling and revelatory in how it connects the Anzac legend with the White Australia policy.
As Cochrane makes clear, while collective memory about the Great War recalls a rallying to the imperial cause against Germany, the underside to the story is that before 1914 Australian governments were primarily concerned with perils in the Pacific, particularly the burgeoning power of Japan.
Hence the belief that our national security and what the …