The Australian electorate is jaded, fed up, disengaged, disenchanted with its leaders and their party room shenanigans. How many times do we hear this weary line from pollsters, journalists – even politicians themselves – as they interpret research into voting patterns and preferences?
But they’re wrong. Australians may show voting apathy toward the current lot of parliamentarians, but when it comes to reading about politics, we are big fans of the genre. Indie booksellers are not surprised by the astonishing sales figures of Malcolm Turnbull’s new memoir; we predicted weeks ago that despite the lockdowns and social isolation regulations, the former PM’s story would be keenly seized upon, debated, digested, dissected.
Our retail experience tells us Australians enjoy reading histories of our founding fathers and how the constitution was born. We relish the biographies of leaders such as Alfred Deakin, John Curtin, Robert Menzies, Gough Whitlam, Bob Hawke, John Howard and Julia Gillard. And we particularly love a scandal (The Dismissal by Paul Kelly and Troy Bramston, The Killing Season Uncut by Sarah Ferguson, Kerry-Anne Walsh’s The Stalking of Julia Gillard and Niki Savva’s recent Plots and Prayers are some that come to mind).
Now is an ideal time to immerse yourself in a good political book. If there is strong storytelling, an impressive cast, and important lessons to be learned, what’s not to love?
A Bigger Picture
There are a few good reasons why this new memoir by Australia’s 29th prime minister has sold 40,000 copies in just one week.
For a start, it is a well-written and finely-constructed book; a former barrister, Turnbull is no slouch when it comes to communicating his message via the written word.
Also, his life journey has not been straight-forward nor without its difficult moments, and readers will connect with many of the author’s responses.
Plus, most Australians remain perplexed by the Federal Liberal Party’s 2018 decision to ditch its leader. How exactly did Scott Morrison become PM?
Turnbull’s account of these events ensure A Bigger Picture will have a long shelf life as an important document of record.
Bob Hawke: The Complete Biography
For anyone who remembers the Hawke era – both his time as a union movement leader and then, in the 1980s, as prime minister – this is a collector’s item which, thanks to publisher Simon and Schuster, brings together D’Alpuget’s two Hawke bios and arrived in bookshops just a few months after his death in May last year.
Put to one side the fact that Hawke later married his biographer and the couple enjoyed a happy and high-profile life together; Bob Hawke: The Complete Biography is an outstanding account of one of the nation’s great Labor movement leaders.
It is tough, it is fair, it is extensively researched, and includes important recollections and observations from a vast range of key union and political figures, as well as family and friends.
Party Animals: The Secret History of a Labor Fiasco
How did Labor lose the “un-losable” election? Nearly one year on and many in the ALP are still wondering why so many signals were misread, and so many miscalculations overlooked.
In what former Bill Shorten speechwriter James Newton describes as “the definitive account of Labor’s 2019 election defeat”, journalist Samantha Maiden has mined her contact book to build a compelling narrative of what happened and who said what.
On both sides of politics there is still a lot to be investigated about the 2019 election result. No doubt, Party Animals will find its rightful place as an important overview of an ALP disaster.
Corrie Perkin is a Melbourne journalist and bookseller whose Hawksburn shop is still open via mybookshop.com.au. My Bookshop is also taking book orders on 03 9824 2990