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[14 Mar 2020 | No Comment | 46 views ]

Book Review
Party Animals: The Secret History of a Labor Fiasco
By Samantha Maiden.Viking, 314pp, $34.99
Samantha Maiden is the latest of four journalists — the other three being Niki Savva, David Crowe and Aaron Patrick — who have written books about the 2019 federal election.

Like Bill Shorten and most of his frontbench, Savva and Crowe had assumed the ALP was a shoo-in. Hence after the May 18 result each had to change the title of their books.
Instead of ‘Highway to Hell: The Coup that Destroyed ­Malcolm Turnbull and Left the …

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[25 Jan 2020 | No Comment | 72 views ]

The Basis of Everything: Rutherford, Oliphant and the Coming of the Atomic Bomb
By Andrew Ramsey. HarperCollins, 384pp, $39.99
Probing the secrets of the universe sounds like a noble endeavour but when the result is a world armed to the teeth with nuclear weapons it makes you wonder. This book tells the compelling story of two friends, two devoted scientists born and educated at opposite ends of the British Empire, who helped bring humanity to the brink, albeit unknowingly at first. These intellectual heavyweights were Ernest Rutherford, the …

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[28 Dec 2019 | No Comment | 55 views ]

A satirical ascendance to The Heights of silliness
The Dizzying Heights
Ross Fitzgerald and Ian McFadyen
Hybrid, 248pp, $24.99
review by Ed Wright

Detail of The Dizzying Heights, by Ross Fitzgerald and Ian McFadyen.

The Dizzying Heights, the seventh in Ross Fitzgerald’s Grafton Everest series, begins with Grafton examining his penis in the mirror through the lens of its (and his) senescence. It’s a curiously blunt self-examination, exacerbated by a failure of focus that provides a counterpoint for the far more whimsical satirical confection that follows, a political romp that thoroughly disavows itself of the restrictions …

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[21 Dec 2019 | No Comment | 70 views ]

Project Rainfall: The Secret History of Pine Gap
Tom Gilling
Allen&Unwin, 306pp, $32.99

Pine Gap just outside Alice Springs, arguably Australia’s most secret place.

At the height of the Cold War in 1966, at a remote site in central Australia, three operatives from the CIA’s Directorate of Science and Technology met the head of the Scientific Intelligence Group of Australia’s Joint Intelligence Bureau. This meeting celebrated the beginnings of a top-secret ­project known in US intelligence ­circles as Rainfall.

Pine Gap is the commonly used name for the pivotal US satellite surveillance station …

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[23 Nov 2019 | No Comment | 66 views ]

Convict Colony
By David Hill. Allen & Unwin, 369pp, $32.99
Why are convicts so much more interesting than respectable folk? Being related to one of the poor sods who was transported to the early colony is a badge of honour now, which is just one of the reasons David Hill’s latest book is so fascinating.

‘Convict Colony’ is a well-researched and clearly expressed populist history of early British Australia. In it, Hill, author of the bestselling ‘1788: The Brutal Truth of the First Fleet’, concentrates on colonial Sydney to chronicle …

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[15 Nov 2019 | No Comment | 59 views ]

Review of Ross Fitzgerald & Ian McFadyen, THE DIZZYING HEIGHTS, Hybrid Publishers: Melbourne, $24.99

   Culture Club by Phil Brown

It’s not often that an author apologises for writing a book. Frankly I think there should be more of it, considering some of the dross which crosses my desk.
The apology in this case was by comedian and writer Ian McFadyen and was also on behalf of his co-author, the historian and author Professor Ross Fitzgerald.
They are the authors of the newly released novel ‘The Dizzying Heights’, the seventh in Fitzgerald’s landmark satirical …

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[9 Nov 2019 | No Comment | 56 views ]

Bjelke Blues: Stories of Repression and Resistance in Joh Bjelke-Petersen’s Queensland
Edited by Edwina Shaw. AndAlso Books, 256pp, $30
   They say you should never forget where you came from. Maybe add this: never forget what happened there. Those of us who lived through the regime of a certain Queensland premier have those years indelibly printed not only on our memory but on our psyche.

It is important not to forget just how vicious and corrupt was the authoritarian regime of the “Hillbilly Dictator”, Johannes Bjelke-Petersen. From 1968 to 1987 …

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[1 Nov 2019 | No Comment | 63 views ]

Australian Books
The Dizzying Heights
Ross Fitzgerald and Ian McFadyen
Hybrid Publishers: Melbourne.
ISBN No: 978-1-925736-30-4 
pp. 248, $24.99.
Review by Neal Price
Ross Fitzgerald and Ian McFadyen’s previous collaboration Going Out Backwards: A Grafton Everest Adventure was shortlisted for the 2017 Russell Prize for Humour Writing.  The Dizzying Heights now carries the bumbling anti-hero Professor Dr Grafton Everest to new heights and previously unimagined depths.
The Dizzying Heights is Fitzgerald and McFadyen’s second novel together. In a post Donald Trump era, it paints a disturbingly contemporaneous view of Australian and American friendship that tips its hat to George Orwell but is a distinctly Antipodean comedy thriller. It’s truly …

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[1 Nov 2019 | No Comment | 69 views ]

Review by Richard Laidlaw
The Dizzying Heights
Ross Fitzgerald and Ian McFadyen
ISBN No: 978-1-925736-30-4
Hybrid Publishing : Melbourne
pp. 248, $24.99.
It’s plainly very difficult being a political satirist these days, when the politicians seem to have cornered the market themselves and to have requisitioned all the best scripts, in the national interest, naturally. No matter. Those with the wit and the will to soldier on will scribble regardless. Someone will get a laugh, or a wry smile, or perhaps break down and sob uncontrollably at the hopelessness of it all, and give us all a …

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[30 Sep 2019 | No Comment | 85 views ]

Tony Abbott and the Times of Revolution
by Gerard Charles Wilson
Self-published, 2019, 393 pages, $44.95
Decades before Tony Abbott, as our 28th prime minister, was challenging the zeitgeist by scrapping the carbon tax, stopping the boats and knighting Prince Philip, he’d been annoying the hell out of the campus left as a student leader, as this fascinating book revels in telling. In Tony Abbott and the Times of Revolution, Gerard Wilson sets out to do three things: to claim Abbott as Australia’s leading “Burkean conservative”; to analyse the university counter-culture that …

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[24 Aug 2019 | No Comment | 74 views ]

Sundowner of the Skies: The Story of Oscar Garden, The Forgotten Aviator
By Mary Garden. New Holland, 192pp, $29.95
They arrived out of nowhere at sundown and were gone by morning. They called them “sundowners”, these swaggies who once wandered our wide brown land with the green bits around the edge. Their life was hard but there was a certain romance to the notion.

With that in mind The Sun newspaper called aviator Oscar Garden the “Sundowner of the Skies” after he landed on November 4, 1930, at Wyndham aerodrome in Western …