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[4 Aug 2022 | No Comment | 23 views ]

The Scrap Iron Flotilla : Five Valiant Destroyers and the Australian War in the Mediterranea
by Mike Carlton
William Heinemann Australia, 448pp, $34.99
ROSS FITZGERALD
They may have been the pride of Australia but the Nazi’s infamous propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels referred to them as a load of scrap iron.
Yet by the middle of 1940, all five Australian ships sent to bolster the British fleet were effectively escorting Allied supply convoys and troops, bombarding enemy coasts, and successfully hunting U-boats.
The story of HMAS Vendetta, Vampire, Voyager, Stuart and Waterhen is told in Mike Carlton’s …

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[11 Jul 2022 | No Comment | 19 views ]

Review by ROSS FITZGERALD
Phillip Deery
SPIES and SPARROWS:
ASIO AND THE COLD WAR
Melbourne University Press
2022, pp 270, pb $34.99
ISBN 9780522878301
How do you recognize a spy? We’ve all watched so many spy thrillers that we probably think we know. And the point that sometimes comes across in espionage fiction on the page and the screen is that it’s sometimes hard to tell who a spook is and who isn’t.
A case in point in Professor Philip Deery’s compelling book Spies and Sparrows is a white-haired, softly spoken, suburban Adelaide housewife, Anne Neill.
In the 1950s …

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[6 Jul 2022 | No Comment | 10 views ]

Warts-and-all memoir of a wartime hell
Members of the 39th battalion parade after weeks of fighting in dense jungle during the Kokoda campaign.
Ross Fitzgerald
The Australian, June 25, 2022
The name Kokoda stirs up all sorts of emotions and is a touchstone of Australian war history. The bravery and sacrifice of the Diggers who held back the Japanese on the Kokoda Track in World War II is still the stuff of legend.
But what was it really like for the soldiers fighting in that hell of jungle and mud? The best way to find …

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[11 May 2022 | One Comment | 77 views ]

  

Elizabeth Tynan
The Secret of Emu Field:
Britain’s forgotten atomic tests in Australia
NewSouth Books 
2022, pp 362, pb $34.99
ISBN 9781742236957

Reviewed by ROSS FITZGERALD
 So you think you know the story of Britain’s notorious atomic tests in Australia. In that respect, the name of Maralinga is infamous. Many readers will have heard about that shameful episode. But there’s another story that is lesser known. And author Elizabeth Tynan tells that tale in The Secret of Emu Field.
Dedicated to “everyone who was harmed by British atomic tests in Australia”, this book revealshow and why, “under pressure from his gung-ho …

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[7 Apr 2022 | No Comment | 26 views ]

by ROSS FITZGERALD
Deconstructing ScoMo : Critical reflections on Australia’s 30th Prime Minister
by Rocco Loiacono & Augusto Zimmermann
Locke Press, $29.95,166 pages
ISBN: 978-1-922717-56-6, 
   He’s still smiling but Scott Morrison might not be after reading this revealing book. If he reads it that is. If I were him, I might not. However, Rocco Loiacono and Augusto Zimmermann’s analysis of Australia’s now deeply unpopular Prime Minister makes fascinating and instructive reading and couldn’t be more timely.
   In Deconstructing ScoMo,  the authors – both of whom hail from Western Australia – liken Scott Morrison to a ‘windsock’ that we often …

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[28 Mar 2022 | No Comment | 24 views ]

Historian, avid novelist and political commentator Ross Fitzgerald AM has his fingers and toes crossed that life will soon imitate art in the Russia-Ukraine war.
The emeritus professor at Brisbane’s Griffith University has co-written a series of political satires with Ian McFadyen, of TV’s Comedy Company fame.
The Lowest Depths, released late last year, is the eighth in the series, which centres around anti-hero Grafton Everest.
The plot involves – spoiler alert –dictatorial President Vladimir Putrid being assassinated.
As Fitzgerald told Strewth: “My favourite teacher at Melbourne High School Norton Hobson (who is the basis for Mr Horton – the …

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[2 Mar 2022 | No Comment | 34 views ]

CBD loves a multi-hyphenate. And none more so than Ross Andrew Fitzgerald AM, the academic, historian, novelist, secularist and political commentator.
Fitzgerald, an emeritus professor in history and politics at Griffith University, even though he lives in Redfern, Sydney, is the author and co-author of 43 books. His latest is one of a series of political/sexual satires about his corpulent anti-hero Grafton Everest, co-written with Ian McFadyen, of TV series Comedy Company fame.
The latest novel The Lowest Depths, released late last year, is set in Australia and Russia. During the course …

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[19 Feb 2022 | No Comment | 29 views ]

Pillar of strength

 

MARGARET GUILFOYLE

by Anne Henderson

Connor Court, Politics

84pp, $19.95

Reviewed by ROSS FITZGERALD
    Dame Margaret Guilfoyle was a trailblazer whose influence is still felt in federal politics. Some may have forgotten how influential she really was and it’s worth noting that she mentored the current Treasurer, Josh Frydenberg.
  Dame Margaret, who died in Melbourne in 2020 aged 94, was a pioneer who came from the conservative side of the Australian political divide.
   Anne Henderson’s brief but satisfying biography points out that, among her many achievements, Margaret Guilfoyle was the first woman from any political …

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[13 Jan 2022 | No Comment | 46 views ]

Stuart Macintyre
The Party – The Communist Party of Australia from heyday to reckoning
Allen & Unwin, $42.50, 512pp, ISBN: 9781760875183
reviewed by ROSS FITZGERALD 
    When I was a fifteen-year-old student at Melbourne High School, I tried to join the Communist Party of Australia. One afternoon after school in June 1959, outside the Bryant & May match factory in Richmond, I met a CPA organiser, who I later found was a leading operative, Rex Mortimer. Before our meeting, I’d had a few beers at the local pub.
   After listening for …

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[30 Dec 2021 | No Comment | 37 views ]

 Ross Fitzgerald & Ian McFadyen, The Lowest Depths, Hybrid Publishers: Melbourne, $24.95.
Reviewed by Dr Alan Gregory
Graham Green’s term “An Entertainment”, probably best sums up this beautifully produced book.

The Lowest Depths is a very good read, with equal elements of a socio-politico farce and of a spy thriller, plus a touch of sci-fi!

As with its predecessor, The Dizzying Heights, this book featuring Dr Professor Grafton Everest is written by two Melbourne High School Old Boys – Ross Fitzgerald and Ian McFadyen.

Ross Fitzgerald AM is Emeritus Professor of History & Politics at Griffith University. …

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[30 Dec 2021 | No Comment | 65 views ]

ROSS FITZGERALD
History Wars: The Peter Ryan – Manning Clark Controversy
by Doug Munro
ANU Press, 2021,193 pages, $55.  

Who doesn’t love a good literary stoush? But a controversy is even more intriguing if it touches on the History and Culture Wars of relatively recent times.
  The Australian historian Manning Clark (1915-1991) and his long-time publisher at Melbourne University Press, Peter Ryan (1923-2015) are both deceased. Some younger readers might be wondering who these two gents were. But an older demographic especially might like to read my take on what was, in the mid …