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Category Archives: Arts and Reviews
More than twenty years ago, writing about Roy Foster’s Modern Ireland, Colm Tóibín recalled what it was like to study history in Ireland in the 1970s—to be on the cusp of the revisionist wave, questioning all the old narratives. “Imagine … Continue reading
During the Christmas break I read Rick Morton’s One Hundred Years of Dirt, which is one of the more acclaimed Australian memoirs published during 2018. It details the wretched life he’s led and also challenges the culture warriors of the … Continue reading
Review of “Crashed: How a decade of financial crises changed the world” by Adam Tooze, Viking. The historian G.M. Trevelyan said that the democratic revolutions of 1848, all of which were quickly crushed, represented “a turning point at which modern … Continue reading
I’ve just caught up with Peter Stanley’s review of Peter Cochrane’s Best We Forget: The war for white Australia, 1914-18, which was posted on Pearls and Irritations on 15 November 2018. I mention this, because it provoked a response that … Continue reading
Lord Acton’s “Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely” is still valid today. Man is born innocent and in his acquisition of power, goes astray when unguided by morals and ethical principles. True wisdom is the ability to … Continue reading
LIONEL ORCHARD. Hugh Stretton in retrospect and prospect: reflections on Graeme Davison’s selected writings.
Graeme Davison has edited a new selection of Hugh Stretton’s writings. Stretton’s work is widely admired but how relevant is it now? Davison presents an assessment. A response follows.
SUSAN CHENERY. The Scribe: portrait of Freudenberg, author of the speech that changed Australia (The Guardian 9.10.2018)
Legendary Labor speechwriter Graham Freudenberg was at the centre of power for more than 40 years. A new film sheds light on the man who wrote the script.
TONY DOHERTY. Review of Hugh Mackay’s “Australia Reimagined – Towards a compassionate, less anxious society”.
Hugh Mackay has spent almost his entire working life asking Australians about what makes us tick, what are our basic concerns, what gives us hope and meaning, why do we do what we do? His acute observation, honed by the skills … Continue reading
The Catholic Church here and globally faces a crisis of loss of support arising especially from its deeds and omissions in relation to appalling sexual abuse of children. Our secular societies are experiencing a massive epidemic of allegations and charges … Continue reading
I have long been interested in why the officers of the catholic church have been so reluctant to consider involving women in the governance of their institution and in its sacramental ministry. So I decided to write a book about … Continue reading
A stage play that wouldn’t make it into an Australian theatre today caused a helluva stink back in 1962 and said some wise and courageous (aka shocking) things about the ‘most sacred day’ in our national calendar. The reasons it … Continue reading
KIM WINGEREI. Book review of “Churchill and Orwell: The Fight for Freedom” by Thomas E. Hicks, Pulitzer Prize winner.
At first glance they may seem like an odd couple, but their influence on the seminal events and the thinking of the 20th century is equally profound. Winston Churchill defined and led the resistance against the tyranny of Adolf Hitler; … Continue reading
Gareth Evans’ memoir makes clear his vision of good international citizenship would have foreign ministers pursuing national self-interest within the ennobling vision of global moral purposes.
Earlier this year, Pearls and Irritations ran an account of the 50th anniversary of my first major foreign news assignment, the Six-Day War. This is about another 50th anniversary assignment, the Russian Revolution. The centenary is next month.
We all know the story – or do we? It was one of Britain’s great wartime triumphs. With the British Expeditionary Force driven back to the French coast by advancing German armies, thousands of Allied troops were stranded on the … Continue reading
All of us who have a stake in understanding the Great War should be grateful to Joan Beaumont for her magisterial history of Australia’s involvement in that terrible conflict (Broken Nation: Australians in the Great War).
The NSW Coalition government has allocated $244m towards a major new building at the state Art Gallery. But questions are being raised about its ongoing funding and its mission as a public institution.
Writing a book is a solitary occupation, but with this one I’ve been constantly aware of the hosts of people – staff, members, volunteers, benefactors – who are concerned about what is happening to our public institutions. And they are … Continue reading
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. When some … Continue reading
Insider, analyst and adviser Allan Gyngell finds that Australian defence and foreign policy are more bipartisan than ever. But even as Australia’s national security agenda metastesizes, we have more to fear from an unreliable ally and an increasingly lawless world. … Continue reading
As our sort of societies experience the demographic revolution, most of us are living much longer than ever before, in cultures that have not responded well to this increased longevity. We also find ourselves living in cultures that so far … Continue reading
The National Opera Review has reported. Instigator George Brandis is probably well enough satisfied. The Terms of Reference are pure Brandis. The name is National Opera Review, the game is a review of the four larger companies funded by … Continue reading
Blue Poles is in the news again. It was purchased for $1.3 million and is now valued at $350 million. The disparaging nature of the campaign against the purchase is reflected in Molnar’s cartoon (below) of 5 April 1974. … Continue reading
Before Snowden comes on, there’s a short film of Oliver Stone, the director, warning cinema audiences that they can be surveilled, so please turn off their devices. Even as a humourless joke for geeks, it sets the sombre tone … Continue reading
Directed by Cesc Gay, Truman is a wonderful Spanish film about a couple of old buddies saying goodbye for the last time. One of them is dying of lung cancer, and the film traces their last four days together … Continue reading
by Milton Moon.© I’m due to die sooner rather than later. My wife of sixty-seven years has already gone, her mortal remains, in ashes waiting for mine. Together they’ll go, somewhere as part of the seasons or the tides ebb … Continue reading
It occurred to me watching Money Monster that George Clooney is Hollywood’s Malcolm Turnbull. Think about it. Both are rich and famous. Both are smart, good-looking and smooth-talking. Both exude confidence and charm. Like Malcolm, George has no difficulty persuading … Continue reading
I rate it among the best Australian documentaries ever made If you want to see Chasing Asylum, Eva Orner’s brilliant new Australian documentary, my advice is to hurry along. At last count it was showing on just two screens in … Continue reading
Julianne Schultz. Australia must act now to preserve its culture in the face of global tech giants. Brian Johns Annual Lecture
At the first Brian Johns Annual Lecture, Julianne Schultz spoke of the challenge to Australian culture by the global tech giants. In the summary of ‘what can be done’ she said: So what can be done to join the … Continue reading