The blurb promised me an amusing read, but it’s about politics – how amusing could it be? Turns out, it was a thoroughly entertaining read.
How can you not love this priceless description of Bob Hawke? “[he] strode straight to the car waving his hand and saying ‘Gday, Gday, G–day’, the last word elongated into a noise like a cockatoo makes flying out of a gum tree.”
Even though it’s about trade, international relations, and politics of the 70s, 80s, and 90s, it’s a history that sets the scene for the politics we have today. And as someone who was born in the latter part of the events it outlines, it was a very readable way to fill in some blanks that help me understand Australian political history.
It’s also a nostalgic read because it draws on the laid-back Australia narrative we’re fed, but a culture many would say we’ve lost. He writes of a time when public holidays were just seen as long weekends, “I wondered, for Australians, if any of these holidays amounted to anything more than that,” while, perhaps unknowingly, foreseeing contemporary politics where public holidays have become divisive, “most commemorate sadness or absurdity, possible division rather than unity or remind us of the quirkiness of Australian history.”
I understand it’s Button (or his ghost writer?) controlling the way he is portrayed, but considering Townsville Bulletin columnist Shari Tagliabue said he “shares equal billing with John Hewson as nicest pollie of all time from my old flight attendant days”, maybe he’s not spinning too much of a story.
To whoever left this on the book table in Building 4: thank you.
First published as a JCU Library Reading Challenge book review.
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