Nicholas Whitlam: Four Weeks One Summer


In the summer of 1936, over just four weeks, it all went wrong — for democracy and for Spain, even for the British royals. Politicians failed, and Hitler was emboldened to plan a new European war, and more.

Four Weeks One Summer, cover image

When some army generals sought to overthrow Spain’s elected government, Francisco Franco quickly emerged as their leader; Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy supported him with men and materiel; pusillanimous politicians in Britain and the United States, even in France, turned a blind-eye — and the Spanish Civil War was on. Edward VIII took a scandalous holiday cruise with Mrs Simpson, Berlin staged the greatest sporting event of modern times, the alternative Peoples’ Olympiad never came to be, and Barcelona was transformed into a unique workers’ paradise. All this in four weeks. It was an incongruous, at times brilliant, juxtaposition of events.

Nicholas Whitlam majored in history at Harvard. Four Weeks One Summer, his third book, is the product of a long-held interest in the Spanish Civil War, the Olympic movement and the politics of the 1930s.

Four Weeks One Summer: When It All Went Wrong is published by Australian Scholarly Publishing, at http://www.scholarly.info

 

 

Mark Colvin: Launch speech for Four Weeks One Summer: When it All Went Wrong

Paragraph 1 follows: 1:

WHEN I WAS A SMALL BOY at an English boarding school, our main history text was a small book by one of the masters, Harold Hartley, who made a tidy sum over the years as a result.

2:

Mark Colvin, photo courtesy ABC Radio Australia.
It was mostly a book of significant events attached to their dates: events and dates which we were expected to learn by rote. The Battle of Plassey, 1757. The Diet of Worms, 1521. The defenestration of Prague 1617. No context. You learned them first, almost like your alphabet, and expected that eventually, perhaps in your fourth or fifth year, someone would explain what they actually meant. We learned the names of the Kings and Queens of England by means of the mnemonic rhyme:

3:

Willy, Willy, Harry, Ste,
Harry, Dick, John, Harry three,
One, two, three Neds, Richard two,
Henries four, five, six — then who?

Edwards four, five, Dick the bad,
Harries twain and Ned the lad… and so on…

4:

In general the whole approach was remarkably reminiscent of Sellars and Yeatman’s great satire 1066 and all that, with its sweeping pronouncements on how any given King’s actions were A Good Thing or A Bad Thing — in capitals — and its summings-up of massive historical shifts like the English Civil War in a sentence: ‘With the ascension of Charles I to the throne we come at last to the utterly memorable Struggle between the Cavaliers (Wrong but Wromantic) and the Roundheads (Right but Repulsive).’

5:

Even when I was a teenager, history, though less simplistic, was understood as a series of texts by great authorities, who once they’d ruled on a subject could be taken as gospel. G.R. Elton, for instance, was then much more famous as the author of England Under The Tudors than as the father of the creator of Blackadder, and what he said could be faithfully paraphrased if you wanted an A for your essay.

6:

There were the Whig and Tory theories of history, competing with the Marxists of course — this was the sixties — but they all seemed to exist in separate boxes and there appeared to be little real dialogue or debate, and overarching all of them was the Great Man theory. History — whether it was about Kings and Queens or Prime Ministers and Presidents — was mostly about important guys doing important stuff which changed the world.

7:

A lot about the writing of history has changed in the intervening decades, thank heavens. There was a huge shift away from the great men, for one thing, and towards a perspective that looked at the lives of ordinary people — a shift which radically changed our view of the events surrounding the French Revolution, for example.

8:

There was a minor movement towards the counterfactual — what would have happened if the Germans had won the First World War, for instance — which forced some historians to re-examine some of their assumptions. And there were small books of powerful storytelling which could give you a whole new window into a moment or a sweep of history. I would include in that category Dava Sobel’s Longitude, on the otherwise dry subject of timekeeping and naval warfare in the 18th century, Mark Kurlansky’s book Salt, in which the history of a single chemical illuminates much of human existence, and John Lukacs’ Five Days in London, which tells the story of how Churchill only narrowly defeated the appeasers and saw off Lord Halifax to become Prime Minister in May 1940, probably the single most world-changing political moment of the twentieth century.

9:

It’s among that distinguished company — and in that category — that Nick Whitlam’s book comfortably fits. Because it takes history day by day, switching focus between places and people, it reads almost filmically. It is not just a book about the Spanish Civil War, or the rise of Fascism in Europe, the degree to which sport can ever be apolitical, or the responsibilities of a young man like Edward the Eighth within the confines of a modern constitutional monarchy.

10:

It is — to borrow the title of a BBC Radio series — a book about ‘The things we forgot to remember’: a book about some things we think we know well and others we may never have heard or. Everyone remembers Jessie Owens’ wonderful victories at the Berlin Olympics and the challenge they presented to Hitler’s insane race theories — but who has ever heard about the Popular Olympics in Barcelona, the anti-Olympics if you like? I certainly hadn’t until I read Nick’s book.

11:

Similarly we all know the name of Juan Antonio Samaranch, because it became synonymous with the corruption and authoritarianism of the International Olympic Committee. But where else but in this book can you find him as a 16-year-old fascist preparing to fight for Franco at the beginning of the Spanish Civil War, while in a parallel narrative, Avery Brundage is shepherding the American Olympic squad across the Atlantic by ship towards Hitler’s festival of Aryan supremacy?

12:

In a quirk of history it’s Brundage of course, who goes on to create the massive international rort of International Olympianism with its quasi-State privileges, tax untouchability and group of leaders whose greed became unquenchable — and Samaranch to whom — if you’ll pardon the expression — he passes the Olympic torch.

13:

If you believe in genetics, probably no-one but Nick Whitlam could have written this particular book. It begins with a story about his late father and a certain characteristic finickiness about the title of the Duchess of Windsor, and it goes on to be — unmistakably — the book of someone who grew up surrounded by politics in practice and in theory.

14:

But it’s also the book of someone whose mother swam for Australia in the British Empire Games, and swam despite an infection for which there were then no antibiotics. If she’d been a couple of years older in other words, Margaret could well have been there in Berlin or Barcelona. With Margaret and Gough, twenty years after the events in this book, he watched the 1956 Olympics in Melbourne.

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It’s the book, in other words, of someone who has always combined his interest in politics with a fascination with sport.

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This is also a book which forces you to ruminate on history’s turning points. It occurs in the year after Mussolini has gone to war in Abyssinia, a few months after Hitler has taken the Rhineland. The decisions taken by the German and Italian dictators at this time, supporting the Francoists, and by France’s Prime Minister Leon Blum, supporting the Republic, were in retrospect early signs of the long manoeuvring that led up to the Second World War.

17:

Similarly, Britain’s inaction, obsessed as the Government was with the Abdication crisis, provides a melancholy foretaste of the moment less than two years hence when Neville Chamberlain would dismiss Hitler’s invasion of Czechoslovakia as a ‘quarrel in a far away country between people of whom we know nothing’.

18:

That reminds me of another anniversary which we’ve just commemorated — Moscow’s crushing of the Hungarian Revolution, exactly sixty years ago, which they were able to get away with because the world was focussed on the spectacular bungle being committed by France and Britain in Egypt over Suez.

19:

Having just myself put out a book which begins and ends with the Cold War, I’m particularly conscious at the moment of the idea that there are eras with defined beginnings and endings.

20:

I never for a moment subscribed to Francis Fukuyama’s theory of the ‘End Of History’, but I confess we had moved from one fairly lengthy era into another. It seemed to me until quite recently that the end of Marxism had catapulted us back into a period that would be much more like the late nineteenth century: great powers manoeuvring fairly cautiously around each other, perhaps in a new version of the Great Game: certainly a return in economic debate to the great Victorian era standoffs of free trade versus imperial protection or mercantilism.

21:

The parallels I didn’t see coming were the ones with the Thirties, in particular the return of a type of populist nationalism to which you can give many labels. Let’s face it, the American term ‘alt-right’ is a euphemism for a host of nasties, from racism to straight out fascism.

22:

We’ve long been warned against comparing anyone too easily to Hitler, and mostly rightly. But it’s not hysterical to note that authoritarians who run up against economic difficulty tend to react by military adventurism. Mussolini invaded Abyssinia — Putin invaded Crimea.

23:

It’s not too much to note that Hitler came to power with considerably less than a majority of the popular vote, and that the establishment fatally miscalculated that it — and the institutions of the State — could control him.

24:

It’s not too much to note either that a leader who comes to power on an authoritarian platform — as Franco did and as Trump has if we take many of his speeches literally — will not necessarily bring about his own downfall through war or incompetence. Franco came to power in the Spanish Civil War and he remained in power, playing a canny game on the national and international stage, for nearly four decades.

25:

And he died in office, untroubled by opposition because he had crushed all opposition. I remember writing his obituary for [radio station] Double J, forty one years ago last month.

26:

They say all great quotes end up being attributed to Oscar Wilde, George Bernard Shaw, Albert Einstein or Mark Twain. Twain, it turns out, did not say ‘History doesn’t repeat itself but it sometimes rhymes’: no-one’s quite sure who did. What he did write, though slightly less pithy, was this ‘History never repeats itself, but the Kaleidoscopic combinations of the pictured present often seem to be constructed out of the broken fragments of antique legends.’

27:

This is a book of kaleidoscopic combinations.

28:

It is constructed, eighty years being several generations, from what might seem to us at first to be broken fragments of antique legends.

29:

But in Nick’s work, this piece of history suddenly speaks to us as if it were yesterday or today.

30:

Draw your own conclusions, draw your own parallels, but I urge you at least to read it. You will be, to borrow a phrase from the ABC Charter, ‘educated, entertained and culturally enriched’.
 

Dr Michael Valenzuela: Maintain Your Brain

Dr Michael Valenzuela: Maintain Your Brain

Valenzuela Cover Image
Valenzuela Cover Image

Within 30 years, dementia is set to overtake heart disease as the number one cause of death in Australia. Yet the main forms of dementia affecting people today are not genetic — and there are practical steps you can take right now to help prevent it. Based on years of first-hand research and experience, leading Australian expert Dr Michael Valenzuela covers everything you need to know to look after your brain, including the latest thinking on: Blood pressure, Diet, Cholesterol, Mental activity, Physical exercise… Featuring simple tips, summaries and even recipes, Maintain Your Brain is essential reading for anyone who wants to enjoy a healthy, active and happy life well into old age.
This updated edition of It’s Never Too Late to Change Your Mind includes important new discoveries on the physical impact of exercise on the brain.

Mark Wakely

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Sweet Sorrow: a beginner’s guide to death

Mark’s new book is remarkable: at times heart-breaking, at times humorous, it is dazzling for its profound honesty. Like most of us, Mark Wakely had always put death in the too-hard basket. He was curiously distanced from his own parents’ deaths. Thirty years later, he went on a journey to confront one of the most intensely personal yet universal experiences: our own mortality. With Mark as our guide, we are introduced to morticians and embalmers, rabbis and doctors, coffin makers and gravediggers. He reveals the fashions and the fads, the rituals and the deep emotion in a heartfelt and whimsical investigation into this timeless subject.

Prior work

Dream Home: Houses and the Imagination

Mark Wakely takes the reader on a wonderful ride between womb and tomb as he looks at what our homes mean to us at different stages of our lives. Dream Home is a book for anyone who’s ever made a house a home, and for all readers who question the notion of home. It is a book of universal appeal with numerous international references.


Mark Wakely is a Sydney-based writer, and a journalist with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s Radio National.

Margaret Simons

simons-stokes-cvr-loresKerry Stokes: Self-Made Man

Kerry Stokes came into the world with no advantages. Unlike his rival magnates, he built his empire from nothing. But what has he discarded along the way?

Prior works

Journalism at the Crossroads

The Australian mainstream press is in crisis, and the future of Australian journalism is uncertain. In response to plunging sales and profitability, and an inexorable increase in online and social-media platforms, the Fairfax and News Limited organisations have embarked on major cost-cutting and restructuring exercises.

World rights: Scribe


Margaret Simons’ first novel The Ruthless Garden won the Angus and Robertson Bookworld prize for new novelists in 1993.
A collection of her gardening columns, titled Wheelbarrows, was published by New Holland in 1999.
Her last novel was The Truth Teller.
Margaret’s investigative book on the inner workings of the parliamentary press gallery in Canberra, Fit to Print, was released in 1999 by UNSW Press.
In 2003 Hodder Headline released The Meeting of the Waters: Secret Women’s Business. Australia is the world’s oldest continent. The Murray is its longest river. The Meeting of the Waters is the story of what happened at the mouth of the Murray, when modern western European culture met older indigenous ways in a dispute about the building of a bridge.
A recent title is Resurrection in a Bucket, a book on the philosophy and implications of composting, published by Allen & Unwin.
simons-fraser

Margaret has also completed a Quarterly Essay for Black Inc. on Mark Latham.

Her biography of Malcolm Fraser was published by Melbourne University Press in 2010 and won the Book of the Year award in the 2011 New South Wales Premiers’ awards.

Mark Roeder

Is Darwin’s theory of evolution out of date?

‘A fabulous book about human destiny’ — Rob Brooks, evolutionary biologist

roeder-geeks-cvr-loresIn Charles Darwin’s thesis, only the fittest of the species —  the alpha males and females — would lead the pack, enabled by their physical strength, social ability and strong genes. But in an increasingly man-made world, those are no longer the traits which take people to the top. As the laws of the jungle change, a new class is on the rise, a class which employs lateral thinking, multitasking and the ability to bend systems to their will. The geek class.

Among the geeks, it is figures like Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, Google’s Sergey Brin and Larry Page, Microsoft’s Bill Gates or Apple’s Steve Jobs, people who are often physically slight and socially awkward, who have succeeded. In doing so they have turned the laws of natural selection on their head.

As Mark Roeder (author of The Big Mo) documents, this has profound implications. Man is no longer shaped by the environment; he is actively shaping it. And the world he creates is radically changing how we evolve.

US edition released in 2014:

roeder-us-cvr-front-001
roeder-us-cvr-front-001

Unnatural Selection paints a compelling picture of human adaptability, identifying new traits within all of us that are helping us to survive and succeed in a world dominated by information. This is not just wishful thinking for geeks—technology is changing the landscape of society, and Roeder describes how humanity is changing along with it” — Daniel H. Wilson, New York Times bestselling author of Robopocalypse and Robogenesis

“Everyone knows that the kinds of people that would have been rejected as social outcasts in the 1950s—the shy science nerds, persnickety math geeks, obsessive recluses who turned their parents’ garages into labs—have transformed the way we live in the past twenty years, quietly rising to positions of great power in the process. In this provocative book, Mark Roeder explains how they have become a social force driving a new kind of human evolution.” — Steve Silberman, editor, Wired magazine

“Roeder’s excellent book is thought provoking and enjoyable—it provides a fresh perspective on human progress.” —Simon Baron-Cohen, professor of developmental psychopathology, University of Cambridge, United Kingdom, director of the Autism Research Centre, and Fellow of Trinity College

“An entertaining and engrossing read. Roeder smartly integrates evolution, genetics, and cognitive science to show how the rise of the geek is inevitable—and well under way. It’s a fabulous book about human destiny.” — Rob Brooks, professor of
evolutionary biology and prize-winning author of Sex, Genes & Rock n Roll: How Evolution Has Shaped the Modern World

“It is becoming evident that our great technical achievements have far outstripped our capacity to evolve socially and emotionally. In Unnatural Selection, Mark Roeder has brought scholarship and prescience to understanding this dehumanizing challenge and in then finding a ‘middle way’ to use technology for our benefit and not be used by it. This is a most important book for our times.” — Peter A Levine, PhD, bestselling author of Waking the Tiger, Healing Trauma, and In an Unspoken Voice: How the Body Releases Trauma and Restores Goodness

Matt Peacock

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James Hardie: the name, like the company, is a lie. The real James Hardie died a long time ago and had almost no connection to the Australian asbestos empire that grew under the Reid family, killing in its wake thousands of unwitting workers and customers.

For more than 20 years, Hardie chairman John Reid oversaw a strategy that ignored the dangers of asbestos and silenced Australia’s largest asbestos union and government health authorities, concealing the nation’s biggest peacetime disaster.

Reid’s eventual successor, Meredith Hellicar, defended Hardie’s move offshore until public campaigning by asbestos disease sufferers like Bernie Banton forced the company to adequately provide for its victims.

Matt’s book, Killer Company: James Hardy Exposed, was published by ABC Books in 2009. This book inspired the ABC1 mini-series Devil’s Dust, which aired in November 2012. It tells the inside story of how Matt and asbestos campaigner Bernie Banton brought the company to account, revealing the corporate tactics which allowed Hardie to conceal what is Australia’s greatest peacetime disaster.

Joyce Morgan and Conrad Walters

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Journeys on the Silk Road

When a Chinese monk broke through a hidden door in 1900, he uncovered one of history’s greatest literary secrets: a 1000-year-old time capsule of life along the ancient Silk Road. Inside the chamber on the edge of the Gobi Desert, documents were piled from floor to ceiling. The gem among them was the Diamond Sutra of 868 A.D., now recognised as the world’s oldest printed book.

The words of the Diamond Sutra have inspired Jack Kerouac, Aldous Huxley and the Dalai Lama. Its path from East to West has coincided with the growing appeal of Buddhism in the contemporary world. As the Gutenberg Age cedes to the Google Age, the discovery of the Silk Road’s greatest treasure is an epic tale of survival, a literary investigation and an evocation of the travelling power of the book.

See: http://journeysonthesilkroad.com/


Joyce Morgan has worked as a journalist for more than three decades in London, Sydney and Hong Kong. Joyce is a senior arts writer at The Sydney Morning Herald and a former arts editor of the paper. She has also worked as a producer with ABC Radio. Born in Liverpool, England, she has travelled extensively in Asia, including India, Pakistan, China and Tibet.

Conrad Walters was born in Boston, educated in Europe and the Middle East and has lived in seven countries. He has travelled widely through North America, Europe and Asia. He has a master’s degree in Creative Writing from the University of Technology, Sydney.

They live in Sydney with a vial of sand from the Taklamakan Desert on their mantelpiece.

David Marr and Marian Wilkinson

Dark Victory
In August 2001 a Norwegian cargo ship came across a sinking ferry off the coast of Australia. Those on board were mainly Afghans. The Captain of The Tampa picked up the people and tried to land in Australia but was refused permission, setting off an international incident.
tampa-the-ageDark Victory is the inside story of the Tampa crisis and the political strategy that powered it; of how the Prime Minister of Australia, John Howard, seized on the issue of ‘border protection’ to start a scare campaign and bring his party back from the politically dead.

Award-winning writer David Marr and Marian Wilkinson are accomplished investigative journalists, who burrow deep into the world of spin-doctors, bureaucrats and the military to unravel this extraordinary saga.

An updated version of this highly successful book has recently been released by Allen & Unwin.

Australia/New Zealand (Allen & Unwin, October 2002)

Photo of the Tampa courtesy the Melbourne Age.

David Marr

David Marr
David Marr

David Marr, Faction Man

‘Australians distrust Shorten almost as much as they distrust Abbott. That’s why this election will be fought on trust. It’s going to be dirty. At the heart of the contest will be Shorten’s character. All the way to polling day, Australians will be invited to rake over every detail of his short life and hidden career.’

David Marr, cover of Faction Man
David Marr, cover of Faction Man

David Marr is the author of Patrick White: A Life, Panic, The High Price of Heaven and Dark Victory (with Marian Wilkinson). He has written for the Sydney Morning Herald, the Age, the Saturday Paper, the Guardian and the Monthly, and been editor of the National Times, a reporter for Four Corners and presenter of ABC TV’s Media Watch. He is the author of four previous bestselling Quarterly Essays.

David Marr: Panic

Cronulla. Henson. Hanson. Wik. Haneef. The boats… Panic shows all of David Marr’s characteristic insight, quick wit and brilliant prose as he cuts through the froth and fury that have kept Australia simmering over the last fifteen years.

“all [these dispatches] grew out of my wish to honour the victims of these ugly episodes: the people damaged and a damaged country.” — David Marr

David’s first book was Barwick (Allen & Unwin), a biography of the former Chief Justice of Australia, which won the 1981 NSW Premier’s Literary Award.

This was followed by The Ivanov Trail, the story of the spy scare in Canberra.

Then in 1991 the brilliant and universally critically acclaimed biography Patrick White — A Life was released by Random House in Australia, Jonathan Cape in Britain, and Random House in the USA. This biography of the Novel Prize winning novelist won seven major Australian awards.

In 1994 Patrick White — Letters was published in Australia followed by publications in the UK and USA.

The Henson Case, released by Text Publishing in 2008, examined the uproar caused by the withdrawal of some of Bill Henson’s photographs from a Sydney art gallery on the grounds that they may have been obscene.

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Kevin Rudd and Tony Abbott fought for leadership of the nation. Here, in one volume, are their definitive portraits by Australia’s pre- eminent biographer and investigative journalist. Power Trip shows the making of Kevin Rudd, from the formative tragedy of his life — the death of his father — to his years as Wayne Goss’s right-hand man, his relentless work in federal Opposition and finally his record as prime minister. Throughout Rudd’s life, Marr finds recurring patterns: a tendency to chaos, a mania for control, a strange mix of heady ambition and retreat — and what has until recently been an unbreakable bond with the public. But that bond broke.

In Political Animal, Marr examines the question that Australians are asking of Tony Abbott: what kind of man is he and how will he run this country? Part fighter and part charmer, Abbott is deeply religious and deeply political. What happens when his values clash with his absolute determination to win? That is the great puzzle of a career that began as a wild university politician in the 1970s and found culmination in the prime ministership.


David Marr is the multi-award-winning author of Patrick White: A Life and The High Price of Heaven, and co-author with Marian Wilkinson of Dark Victory. He has written for the Sydney Morning Herald, the Age and the Monthly, been editor of the National Times, a reporter for Four Corners and presenter of ABC TV’s Media Watch. In 2010 he wrote the Quarterly Essay Power Trip: The Political Journey of Kevin Rudd.

Panic is published in Australia by Black Inc. at http://www.blackincbooks.com/

Helen MacDonald

macdonald-possessing-cvr

London, 1868: visiting Australian Aboriginal cricketer Charles Rose has died in Guy’s Hospital. What happened next is shrouded in mystery. The only certainty is that Charles Rose’s body did not go directly to a grave.

Written with clarity and verve, and drawing on a rich array of material, Possessing the Dead explores the disturbing history of the cadaver trade in Scotland, England and Australia, where laws once gave certain officials possession of the dead, and no corpse lying in a workhouse, hospital, asylum or gaol was entirely safe from interference.


Helen MacDonald is the author of the critically acclaimed Human Remains, which won the Victorian Premier’s Literary Award (History) and was short listed for the Ernest Scott History Prize. She is a Senior Fellow at The Australian Centre in the School of Historical Studies at the University of Melbourne.

Steven Miller

Steven Miller: Dogs in Australian Art

miller-cvr

A New History of Antipodean Creativity

Dogs in Australian Art looks at Australian art through the lens of dog painting, showcasing over 150 masterworks that illustrate the deep bond between Australians and their best friends. Steven Miller’s whimsical text argues that all the major shifts which occurred in Australia art, and which have traditionally been attributed to the environment or historical factors, really occurred because of dogs. His book is also a study of how the various dog breeds have been depicted from colonial times until the present.
Steven Miller is head of the Research Library and Archive of the Art Gallery of New South Wales. He has published widely on art, with his book on Australian culture between the two world wars (Degenerates and Perverts) winning the NSW Premier’s Australian History Award in 2006. He lives in Sydney and is the proud owner of Finbar, a Welsh Terrier.

Margo Kingston

kingston-nhjHer personal account of Pauline Hanson’s 1998 election campaign, Off the Rails, was published by Allen and Unwin in 1999 and won the Dobbie Award for the most outstanding first book by a female author.

Margot’s analysis of the Howard Government, Not Happy, John!, was published by Penguin in 2004 and went straight to the best-seller lists.


Margo Kingston is a Canberra-based journalist for the Sydney Morning Herald.

Neil James

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Neil James and Harold Scruby, with Illustrations by Alan Moir

Modern Manglish

‘It’s dog eat dog in this rat race’

‘We’ll burn that bridge when we come to it.’

‘I hope to come first or second, or at least win it.’

The information superhighway brings more text to our door than ever before. It’s just that most of it gets mangled along the way. Twenty years ago, Harold Scruby’s Manglish became an instant bestseller. This version expands on the consummate mangles of the original, with all-new Scrubyisms and recent classics from the shame files of the Plain English Foundation.

Neil James completed a doctorate in English while working as an editor and a book reviewer. In 2003, Neil established the Plain English Foundation with Dr Peta Spear to improve the quality of Australian public language. The foundation has since trained some 10,000 professional people. The latest of his three books is Writing at Work, and he has published more than 60 articles, reviews, and essays on language and literature.

During Harold Scruby’s 25 years in the rag trade, he wrote two books: Waynespeak and Manglish. He spent eight years on Mosman Council as a councillor and depu­ty mayor.

Alan Moir has been an editorial cartoonist for The Bulletin, The Courier-Mail and The Sydney Morning Herald. He has won the Stanley Award for Editorial Cartoonist of the Year six times, as well as the Walkley Award for Excellence in Journalism in 2000 and 2006.

Writing at Work

Here Neil James talks about his book Writing at Work:

‘We stopped teaching grammar in the Australian school system for 20 years. This was a great mistake… Because writing is such a threshold skill, this is now affecting… careers. I’d also like to see… rhetoric — the art of speaking and writing effectively and persuasively — restored to the curriculum. This is the classic craft of communication that was tossed out over a hundred years ago, having been at the heart of education for centuries.’

Margaret Harris

Margaret Harris
Margaret Harris

Margaret Harris held positions in the Department of English, University of Sydney, including the Challis Chair of English Literature, from 1969 to 2007. Since 2007, she has been Director of Research Development, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, at the University of Sydney.

Her major research projects have in common intensive investigation of the manuscripts of creative writers. Her research in Victorian fiction has established new interpretations of the careers of two major authors, George Eliot and George Meredith, based on original analysis of their unpublished writings such as notebooks and diaries, and knowledgeable and imaginative commentary on their novels. These contributions to the field were put into circulation initially in scholarly editions of previously unpublished writings, as well as of editions of each writer’s novels. Both The Journals of George Eliot (1998, with Judith Johnston) and The Notebooks of George Meredith (1983, with Gillian Beer) expand the published corpus of the work of the author, and provide insight into the creation and production of the work.

The Hanging Garden, cover image
The Hanging Garden, cover image
Professor Harris has published also on Australian authors, notably Christina Stead, in articles and a major collection of letters, Dearest Munx: The Letters of Christina Stead and William J. Blake (2005). She is currently engaged in an ARC-funded project on Patrick White in collaboration with Elizabeth Webby, which includes an edition of his working notebooks and publication of an unfinished novel, The Hanging Garden, in 2012, the centenary of White’s birth.

Paul Dillon

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There are so many questions that need answers, but how do parents start talking to their kids about alcohol and drugs? Asking ‘Are you taking drugs?’ won’t do it — that approach won’t give teenagers the information they desperately need to keep themselves and their friends safe.

Teenagers, Alcohol and Drugs has been written in response to the stories Paul Dillon has heard over 25 years in drug and alcohol education. It gives answers to the questions he has been asked by young people and their parents, and also includes solutions to the many scenarios he has heard about from anxious teenagers who haven’t known what to do when things went bad.

This book shows parents how to talk to their children in a way that is respectful and reasonable, non-threatening and non-judgmental. It will help them understand the issues their children are facing, and show them how to help their kids negotiate a minefield of misinformation and social pressure in a calm and sensible way — to tell them what they really want and need to know about alcohol and drugs.

Rights: Spain, Ediciones Medici

Michelle Dicinoski

dicinoski-michelle-2012Michelle has found the love of her life — and now she just wants to get married and live happily ever after.

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The only problem is, she’s in love with an American woman, Heather, and neither Australia nor America recognises same-sex marriage. What to do? For Michelle, the answer is clear: go to Canada and get hitched there.

This is the deep, funny, heartwarming and brave story of that trip. Along the way, Michelle reflects on why anyone would want to get married anyway, on the power of acceptance, and on the startling ghost stories in her family.

World Rights: Black Inc, 2013


Michelle Dicinoski writes non-fiction and poetry. Her second book, Ghost Wife: A Memoir of Love and Defiance, was published by Black Inc. in March 2013. Her poetry collection Electricity for Beginners was published in 2011. Her poems and essays have appeared in anthologies, newspapers and journals including the The Best Australian Poems, The Australian, and Meanjin.

Michelle has a PhD in creative writing from the University of Queensland, and received a Marten Bequest Travelling Scholarship for 2012-2013. She lives in Melbourne.

 

Robert Dessaix

‘Dessaix is one of perhaps three Australian writers whose
every appearance in print is a not-to-be-missed event’

Sydney Morning Herald

‘Dessaix is some kind of national treasure because he represents with a kind of Helpmann-like elegance and virtuosity
the side of our sensibilities we publicly repress’

— Peter Craven, Australian Book Review

‘Dessaix writes with great elegance, with passion,
compassion and sly wit’
— John Banville

v
One Sunday night in Sydney, Robert Dessaix collapses on a Darlinghurst pavement, and is helped to his hotel by a kind young man wearing a T-shirt that says FUCK YOU. What follows are weeks in hospital, tubes and cannulae puncturing his body, as he recovers from the heart attack threatening daily to kill him. While lying in the hospital bed, Robert chances upon Philip Larkin’s poem ‘Days’.
What, he muses, have his days been for?
What and whom has he loved – and why?
This is vintage Robert Dessaix.
His often surprisingly funny recollections range over topics as eclectic as intimacy, travel, spirituality, enchantment, language and childhood, all woven through with a heightened sense of mortality.


“The pleasure and elegance of all Dessaix’s writing is in the language, the erudition, the delicate, often unexpected and lovely connections, and the intimate, conversational voice. Anyone who listened to him during his decade as presenter of the ABC’s Books and Writing program will immediately ‘hear’ him.
What Days are For is an illuminating companion to A Mother’s Disgrace (1994), which recounted Dessaix’s childhood as a much-loved adopted son, his early studies and travels, but mainly his sense of emptiness until he finds his birth mother and a new identity. He notes: ‘I would like to move hearts, not just minds.’ And he does.”

— Agnes Nieuwenhuizen, in The Australian

After teaching Russian language and literature in the 1970s and ’80s, and presenting the ABC’s Books and Writing program for ten years, he became a full-time writer in 1995. He lives in Hobart.

His autobiography, A Mother’s Disgrace, was published by HarperCollins in 1994.

Robert’s best-selling novel Night Letters was published to great success in Australia, U.K. and the U.S.A. as well as being translated into German, French, Italian, Dutch, Finnish and Portuguese. This was followed by Corfu, released by Scribners in the UK in 2001 and in the Netherlands by Muelenhoff.

Twilight of Love followed, which highlighted Robert’s fascination with Russia and in particular Russian writers. He is a fluent Russian speaker and his doctoral thesis was as study of the author Ivan Turgenev. In Twilight of Love he revisits the Europe he experienced more than twenty years ago and follows the footsteps of Turgenev. Robert weaves together Turgenev’s time in the nineteenth century, his own Soviet experience, and Russia as it is today. Released at the Melbourne Writers’ Week in 2004 by Pan Macmillan, it was also published in the UK by Simon and Schuster and in the US by Shoemaker and Hoard.

dessaix-as-i-was-cvrRobert’s next book (Pan Macmillan 2008) was Arabesques, based on the life and travels of Nobel Prize winning author André Gide. Part travel, part memoir, Arabesques explores Robert’s fascination with Gide’s attempt to find a balance between his homosexual desires and an almost puritanical core.

Robert’s recent collection of non-fiction, As I was Saying, is a swirling conversation with the reader on everything from travel to dogs and cats, from sport and swearing to the pleasures of idleness.

 Rights: various

Eva Cox

High-profile feminist economist, and very much in demand as a public speaker and commentator. She delivered the ABC Boyer Lectures in 1995 and her book Leading Women — an examination of he place of women in the contemporary political economy of Australia — was published by Random House in 1996.

Rights: Australia and New Zealand: Random House Australia, 1996

Catherine Cole

cathy-cole-2013-lores-1Catherine Cole’ new novel is titled The Cyclist, and is being considered by publishers.

Catherine Cole is Professor of Creative Writing, Creative Arts, University of Wollongong. She has published the novels The Grave at Thu Le, Skin Deep and Dry Dock, a memoir about A.D. Hope titled The Poet Who Forgot, and the non-fiction book Private Dicks and Feisty Chicks, an interrogation of crime fiction.

She also edited The Perfume River: Writing from Vietnam and Fashion in Fiction with Karaminas and McNeil. Her short fiction and poetry have appeared in national journals and collections including Best Australian Stories.

She has been a member of the Australian Research Council’s ERA committee for Humanities and Creative Arts, has judged some of Australia’s leading literary awards, and has received international writing residencies in Paris and Hanoi.

Rights: various

Helen Caldicott

caldicott-nuclear-cvrDoctor, anti-nuclear activist, and author of three books on nuclear energy and the environment, Helen Caldicott is the founder of Physicians for Social Responsibility.

Her autobiography A Passionate Life was published by Random House in 1996.

She is writing a new book on the continuing nuclear arms race and the dangers of the anti-ballistic missile system now proposed for the United States. The New Nuclear Danger was published by Simon & Schuster in the United States and Scribe Publications in Australia in 2002.

Her latest work Nuclear Power is Not the Answer was released by Melbourne University Press in 2006.

Martin Sheen says ‘In a world where dark and dangerous forces are threatening our planet, Helen Caldicott shines a powerful light. This much-needed book reveals truths that confirm that we must take positive action now if we are to make a difference.’

Rights: various

John Bryson

John BrysonJohn lectures in law, literary journalism, and fiction, acts on advisory panels to government, NGOs, and universities, and on literary judging panels. At the end of the millennium, a Schools of Journalism panel included him in ‘The 100 Journalists of the Century’. He was awarded the Order of Australia in 2014.

John Bryson achieved international acclaim with Evil Angels, his celebrated book on the disappearance of Azaria Chamberlain. It was also released as a major film starring Meryl Streep and Sam Neill. Hodder Headline Australia released a new edition of Evil Angels in 2000.

chamberlain-and-photoWhen John followed the Azaria Chamberlain case through the early eighties, the moment of greatest shock for him came at the conclusion of the trial. Weeks of detailed evidence from the Defence had conclusively demonstrated the profound errors of procedure that the police forensic scientists had committed. However, the jury utterly ignored the facts, and found Lindy Chamberlain guilty of murdering her baby. It was this triumph of prejudice over truth, so nakedly revealed in the jury’s decision, that spurred John on to write the book Evil Angels. It became a turning point in public opinion. Not merely exposing the flaws in the conviction, it above all demonstrated that despite Australians’ belief in their sense of fairness, prejudice can overwhelm us. [Photo: the Chamberlains with a photo of Lindy and her baby.]

John Bryson’s novel, To the Death, Amic, was published by Viking/Penguin in Australia and the UK in 1994.

His Whoring Around was published by Penguin in 1981.

A collection of reportage, Backstage at the Revolution and Twelve Other Reports, was published by Penguin in 1988.

He originated the production and wrote the courtroom scenario for the TV special Secrets of the Jury Room for SBSTV 2004.

Rights: various

Julia Baird

 Victoria, the Queen

Julia Baird, “Victoria the Queen”, cover.
Fifth in line to the throne at the time of her birth in 1819, Victoria was an ordinary woman thrust into an extraordinary role. Born into a world where women were often powerless, Victoria went on to rule the most powerful country on earth with a decisive hand. As a teenage queen, she eagerly grasped the crown. She loved sex and delighted in power. She was outspoken with her ministers. She gave birth to nine children and survived eight assassination attempts over the course of her lifetime. And as science, technology, and democracy were dramatically reshaping the world, Victoria was a symbol of steadfastness and security—queen of a quarter of the world s population at the height of the British Empire’s reach.

It’s Baird’s gift as a storyteller, her knack for human detail and the idiosyncrasies of the era, that makes this book so superb. Through her eyes, the stolid Victoria we thought we knew comes thrillingly alive. An extraordinary story, told with brilliance and tenderness by one of Australia‘s most perceptive writers. — Annabel Crabb

Julia Baird makes this remarkable, complex woman absolutely come alive. Only an Australian — and one with Julias vivid storytelling abilities — could write this fresh, unafraid and completely compelling biography. — Lisa Wilkinson


Julia Baird is a journalist, broadcaster and author based in Sydney, Australia. She hosts The Drum on ABCTV and writes columns for the Sydney Morning Herald and the International New York Times. Her writing has appeared in a range of publications including Newsweek, The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, the Guardian, the Good Weekend, The Sydney Morning Herald, the Sun-Herald, The Monthly and Harper’s Bazaar. You can follow her at http://www.juliabaird.me/about/