Reviews »

[24 Jul 2020 | No Comment | 202 views ]

One of the best non-fiction books of the year is an elegant memoir by Paul Bugden who, from 1995 at the height of the AIDS epidemic, ran Bugdens Bookshop in Kings Cross for almost 20 years.

Released this month, Tales of an Accidental Bookseller tells the true story of a struggling actor and aspiring filmmaker who, amid great personal loss and tragedy, finds redemption in the most unlikely place – the second hand book trade.

Tales of an Accidental Bookseller is available for $29.99 from bugdensbooks@bigpond.com

It is an enthralling and fascinating read.

Professor Ross Fitzgerald AM is the …

Reviews »

[9 Jul 2020 | No Comment | 273 views ]

The Insider : The scoops, the scandals and the serious business within the Canberra bubble
by Christopher Pyne
Hachette Australia, 
$34.99, pp 321,  ISBN 9780733643422 

review by ROSS FITZGERALD
The trouble with political memoirs is that it’s very hard to get the balance right between the book-length version of an after-dinner speech, with its jokes and stories; and an elaborate re-telling of recent history, invariably told to make a hero of the author. Christopher Pyne’s account of his part in the post-Howard years occasionally prompts a chuckle and sometimes has interesting things to say. By …

Reviews »

[4 Jul 2020 | No Comment | 268 views ]

UNDER FIRE : HOW AUSTRALIA’S VIOLENT HISTORY LED TO GUN CONTROL
By Nick Brodie
Hardie Grant, 289pp, $29.99
ONE PUNCH : THE TRAGIC TOLL OF RANDOM ACTS OF VIOLENCE
By Barry Dickins
Hardie Grant, 182pp, $29.99
reviewed by ROSS FITZGERALD
From the beginning of white occupation, guns and booze have played a pivotal role in our culture, from the so-called Rum Rebellion in January 1808 to Martin Bryant’s murder of 35 people in Port Arthur, Tasmania, in April 1996.

Bryant’s consumption of booze was excessive: a bottle and a half of liqueur, plus port wine and other sweet …

Columns »

[30 Jun 2020 | No Comment | 266 views ]

by Ross Fitzgerald
Founded in London in January 1884, with the aim of establishing a socialist society by peaceful means, the Fabian Society in Britain speedily evolved into the first modern-style think tank. It did much to craft the policies advocated by the British Labour Party, which was founded in London in February 1900.
The Fabian Society’s early success had its echoes in Australia.  Fabian societies sprang into life in several of our capital cities after the Labor Party first emerged as a force to be reckoned with at the state and federal level. …

Columns »

[29 Jun 2020 | No Comment | 270 views ]

by ROSS FITZGERALD and STEPHEN HOLT
Serious interest in the voting patterns of Eden-Monaro long predates next Saturday’s by-election. It goes back to the mid-1950s when the study of voting outcomes was starting to take off as a field of research in Australia.

In 1954 Professor Leicester Webb from the Australian National University in Canberra published a study of the failed 1951 referendum campaign to legalise the banning of the Communist Party. In the same year Webb’s colleague Joan Rydon together with Henry Mayer from Sydney University published a study of the …

Columns »

[10 Jun 2020 | No Comment | 619 views ]

From The Australian newspaper online, June 10, 2020. 
The great characters of the AA movement
by ROSS FITZGERALD
Since it began, Alcoholics Anonymous has saved the lives of millions of people across the globe. That’s something worth celebrating today (June 10), which is Founders Day on the AA calendar. 
The inspirational story of AA began in 1935 when a newlysober New York stockbroker, Bill Wilson visited Akron, Ohio on a business trip. Afraid he might drink again, he decided to talk with another alcoholic.  The person he found wasa seemingly hopeless alcoholic  physician, Bob Smith. Afterlistening to Bill tell the story of his alcoholism he was so …

Reviews »

[30 May 2020 | No Comment | 436 views ]

‘Cry Me a River: The Tragedy of the Murray-Darling Basin’
By Margaret Simons
Quarterly Essay 77
Black Inc, 250pp, $22.99
reviewed by ROSS FITZGERALD
The Murray-Darling Basin is often in the news and seldom for the right reasons. It is troubled by drought and climate change and the unquenchable thirst of agriculture. Yet belief in it is an article of faith for politicians, causing regular scraps over its management and its future.
In ‘Cry Me A River’, journalist and author Margaret Simons chronicles the results of her decision to take a close look at it herself. …

Reviews »

[28 May 2020 | No Comment | 448 views ]

The Defeat of Literary Censorship
The Trials of Portnoy : How Penguin brought down Australia’s censorship system
by Patrick Mullins
Scribe Publications, 2020, pp 329, $35
Review by ROSS FITZGERALD
It took a book about masturbation to bring down Australia’s repressive regime of literary censorship. Philip Roth’s hugely controversial, highly sexualised novel Portnoy’s Complaint is a book about the habit that in the 1960s scarcely dared speak its name.
Unseemly subject matter in the eyes of some, but that’s the point really. Patrick Mullins, author of Tiberius with a Telephone, the award-winning biography of Liberal prime minister ‘Billy’ McMahon now explores how, in August 1970, Penguin Books Australia published Portnoy’s Complaint.
  Philip …

Reviews »

[1 May 2020 | No Comment | 466 views ]

             A smaller man
              Malcolm Turnbull, A Bigger Picture, Hardie Grant, 704 pages, $55.
              Review by ROSS FITZGERALD

Never trust a person who keeps a diary. After all, who keeps a diary other than someone who wants subsequently to tell a story where the diarist is the hero, while everyone else, almost invariably, falls lamentably short of the hero’s expectations and deserts?
 
And so it turns out with Malcolm Turnbull’s political memoir. Like the lawyer he once was, the diary entries …

Books »

[30 Apr 2020 | No Comment | 388 views ]

Re Ross Fitzgerald’s memoir FIFTY YEARS SOBER.

From Hybrid Publishers in Melbourne

“With alcoholism one of our major public health issues it’s an important book that may shine a light for those still suffering and their families.”

–Phil Brown, QWeekend, The Courier-Mail, 21 March 2020

“… a valuable handbook for the alcoholic who wants to stop drinking.” –Richard Whitaker

“By turns sad, ironic, disturbing and sometimes amusing, this is the ultimate sobering read.” –Steven Carroll, the Age 18 April 2020.

To celebrate 40 years of sobriety, Ross Fitzgerald published My Name Is Ross (2010) – the …

Reviews »

[29 Apr 2020 | No Comment | 347 views ]

Book Review
Ross Fitzgerald Fifty Years Sober: An Alcoholic’s Journey
Hybrid Publishers, Melbourne, 2020, $27.50.
reviewed by Alan Gregory 
   Ross Andrew Edward Fitzgerald was born on 25 December 1944, and attended Melbourne High School from 1958 to 1961.
A highly intelligent student, he won the Economics prize in year 12 and gained Honours in every Matriculation subject and so gained a Commonwealth scholarship which, as he came from a poor family, enabled him to attend university.  
He had a great admiration for his teachers at the school, particularly Neville Drohan, Norton Hobson, Graham Worrall, Arthur Cocks, Ben Munday, Brian Corless and David Niven. He was a contemporary of Gareth Evans. He was also good at sport, football and cricket and he captained the school second XI and also featured in debating.
His left wing political bent meant a close association with Graham Worrall who he kept up with in later life. 
He was also close to Norton Hobson who told him he was an ASIO man.
Fitzgerald, who is now one of the best known public intellectuals, became also well known as an alcoholic. 
He states that his first  alcoholic drink was as a school boy in school uniform at the Her  Majesty’s hotel which was near the school.
Before being served, the barman for his first drink asked him to take off his school cap!
He also had his last alcoholic drink at  Her  Majesty’s hotel, commonly know as Maisy’s, where a group of Melbourne High teachers regularly drank after school.
He also seemed to collect a number of high profile friends like Barry Humphries, and on his many overseas trips recounts (to his great advantage) being mistaken for the eminent Dr Stephen FitzGerald, a former Australian Ambassador to China. 
His university days at Monash University were taken up mainly drinking alcohol and the dreadful consequences of his frequent drunkenness. Intellectually brilliant he still managed to do well. 
While no Adonis he seemed to be attractive to people and especially women and somehow engendered something in people who helped him out of his frightening escapades.  
He treated …