Books (Featured)

The world is run by those who show up

In this edited extract of the new book The Change Makers, Professor Marcia Langton tells author Shaun Carney that when you do the right thing at the right time, people will later call you a leader. Shaun Carney The Mandarin What kind of leader am I, if I’m a leader at all? I am required as a professor to be an academic leader. As a result of that, and the pressure in the academy to publish and, increasingly, to show ... Read More »

On the Front Lines of the Climate Change Movement: Mike Roselle Draws a Line

The beard is graying. The hair is clipped military-short. Jeffrey St. Clair and Joshua Frank CounterPunch He is a large man, oddly shaped, like a cross between a grizzly and a javelina. It’s Roselle, of course, Mike Roselle—the outside agitator. He and a fellow activist have just spread an anti-coal banner in front of a growling bulldozer in West Virginia on a cold February morning in 2009. He’s in this icy and unforgiving land to oppose a brutal mining operation ... Read More »

Behrouz Boochani’s literary prize acceptance speech – full transcript

Asylum speaker accepts $125,000 Victorian premier’s literary prize via video from Manus Island, where he has been held for six years Behrouz Boochani The Guardian This is a transcript of the speech Behrouz Boochani delivered via video link on 31 January 2019 Behrouz Boochani wins Australia’s richest literary prize When I arrived at Christmas Island six years ago, an immigration official called me into the office and told me that they were going to exile me to Manus Island, a ... Read More »

Behrouz Boochani wins $100,000 Victorian Prize for Literature

The winner of this year’s $100,000 Victorian Prize for Literature couldn’t be at the awards presentation on Thursday evening. Jason Steger The Sydney Morning Herald He was unavoidably detained elsewhere – on Manus Island, where he has been incarcerated for more than five years. Kurdish refugee Behrouz Boochani’s​ poetic memoir, No Friend But the Mountains: Writing from Manus Prison (translated by Omid Tofighian), not only won Australia’s richest writing prize, but also the $25,000 non-fiction prize in the Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards, ... Read More »

Imperial Exceptionalism

It is hard to give up something you claim you never had. That is the difficulty Americans face with respect to their country’s empire. Jackson Lears The New York Review of Books Since the era of Theodore Roosevelt, politicians, journalists, and even some historians have deployed euphemisms—“expansionism,” “the large policy,” “internationalism,” “global leadership”—to disguise America’s imperial ambitions. According to the exceptionalist creed embraced by both political parties and most of the press, imperialism was a European venture that involved seizing territories, ... Read More »

Reading between the lines: books to help us understand Brexit

With Westminster in deadlock, history offers a wider perspective on Britain’s complicated relationship with continental Europe Kevin O’Rourke The Guardian All eyes today are firmly focused on what is happening inside the Westminster bubble, but it’s helpful sometimes to zoom out and get a bit of perspective on Britain’s relationship with continental Europe. Brexit did not emerge out of nowhere: it is the culmination of events that have been under way for decades and have historical roots stretching back well beyond ... Read More »

Malala’s new book brings voices of world’s displaced to the fore

As we ascend the lift in the Melbourne hotel where Malala Yousafzai is staying, we have a stowaway on board. Miki Perkins The Sydney Morning Herald Ten-year-old Dante Ascui is a capable assistant to his father, Age photographer Luis Ascui, carrying the tripod as we emerge into a large room with a view of the Yarra River. But for Dante, today is not about work. When his dad discovered his first booking of the day was to photograph Yousafzai, he doubled back ... Read More »

Indian Teens’ Mental Distress Was Invisible, Invalid Until A Decade Ago

Writer Himanjali Sankar says her book ‘The Lies We Tell’ emerged from wanting to understand difficult mental states in a socially and culturally familiar context. Himanjali Sankar HuffPost Mental illness no longer carries the stigma it used to have even ten years back. But it is tagged by many , ranging from disappointment to impatience and annoyance at what is perceived as self-indulgence at some level. When those in greater control of their mental states come face to face with ... Read More »

Book Excerpt – Red Star Over the Pacific: China’s Rise and the Challenge to U.S. Maritime Strategy.

Toshi Yoshihara and James Holmes present the second edition of their important work on this timely topic. China has a dream. Chinese Communist Party (CCP) officials tell us so. Toshi Yoshihara and James Holmes The National Interest President Xi Jinping, who ranks first among them, made “Chinese Dream” his credo soon after ascending to China’s top post in 2012. And this is no mere slogan; it encapsulates CCP officialdom’s vision of China’s purposes and aspirations, first and foremost of which ... Read More »

The ancient Greeks would have loved Alexa

Classical mythology is full of robots, automata, artificial intelligence and technology. Think not only Pandora, but self-opening gates and libation-pouring statues Peter Stothard The Spectator Among the myths of Ancient Greece the Cyclops has become forever famous, the Talos not so much. While both were monsters who hurled giant boulders at Mediterranean shipping, the… The Talos was more alien, by some accounts a mere machine, manufactured in metal by a god and pre-programmed only to sink ships and roast invaders ... Read More »

‘We didn’t expect all 13 out alive’: Inside the Thai cave rescue

Twelve boys and their coach trapped deep within a cave complex. An international team of divers planning one of the most dangerous missions ever to bring them out. And time was running out. By James Massola The Age Summer rains were about due on the hot, humid Saturday afternoon of June 23 in the remote northern Thai border town of Mae Sai. The 12 young members of the Wild Boars soccer club and their 25-year-old-coatch, Ekapol ”Ek” Chantawong, rode their ... Read More »

What would it be like?

Swati Dhingra and Josh De Lyon on the realities of a No Deal Brexit London Review of Books More than two years after the referendum, there is still a possibility that the UK will fail to reach a withdrawal agreement and an agreement on future relations with the EU. If a deal cannot be reached by 29 March next year, when the UK will cease to be a member of the EU, the consequences will be severe; many of them ... Read More »

A 1965 Novel About an Unhinged President Is Being Rereleased

A 1965 Times review of Fletcher Knebel’s “Night of Camp David” called the book “too plausible for comfort.” Alexandra Alter The New York Times A couple of months ago, prominent political pundits began buzzing about a provocative book by a Washington journalist. The book — which raised questions about what Congressional leaders should do if the president was mentally unstable and unfit for office — wasn’t a new expose about the Trump administration. It was a 1965 political thriller by Fletcher ... Read More »

What Thucydides Knew About the US Today

On the morning after the 2016 presidential election I tried to distract myself by reading some pages of Thucydides that I had assigned for a class the next day, and found myself reading the clearest explanation I had seen of the… Edward Mendelson The New York Review of Books In the third book of his History of the Peloponnesian War, Thucydides describes the outbreak of civil war on the northern island of Corcyra in 427 BC: There was the revenge taken in ... Read More »

The Double Battle

Frederick Douglass’s moral crusade. Eric Foner The Nation Let me begin on a personal note. Over half a century ago, my uncle, the historian Philip S. Foner, rescued Frederick Douglass from undeserved obscurity. Beginning in 1950, he edited four volumes of Douglass’s magnificent speeches and writings, each with a long biographical introduction that chronicled his rise to international renown as a… It is difficult to believe, given his prominence during his lifetime, but Douglass was virtually unknown outside the black ... Read More »

Who’s Really Afraid of Nationalism?

Yoram Hazony has written a polemic against what he perceives as the conventional wisdom—a refutation of the “paradigm of the European liberals” for whom the European Union is the highest stage of political excellence. Michael Kimmage The National Interest Yoram Hazony, The Virtue of Nationalism, (New York: Basic Books, 2018), 273 pp., $26.99. It was the best of times in Europe, in the 1990s, and it was the worst of times in Russia. The Soviet Union had ignominiously collapsed in ... Read More »