Book review

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Electricity is only one of the marvels brought to us by science. But even that’s not enough to convince some of its value. Michael Wyszomierski/Flickr

What has science ever done for us? The Knowledge Wars, reviewed

Nobel Laureate Peter Doherty's new book explores why so many people today selectively reject science, and in the process gives a behind the scenes look at how science really works.
B.A. Santamaria (left) is the subject of a new biography by political commentator Gerard Henderson. Wikimedia Commons

Book review: Santamaria, A Most Unusual Man

Gerard Henderson has produced a rounded and at times fascinating portrait of B. A. Santamaria. His broad conclusion is that Santamaria was a compelling, skilled and persuasive man who was enormously devoted to his causes.
Selling students short comes at an important time for higher education in Australia: funding uncertainties and questions over academic standards have never been more pronounced. from www.shutterstock.com.au

Book review: Selling Students Short

Richard Hil’s Selling Students Short: Why You Won’t Get the Education You Deserve is a timely exposé of the difficult conditions facing students at Australia’s increasingly corporatised universities.
All by myself. AAP/Alan Porritt

Book review: The Latham Diaries, ten years on

The Latham Diaries remains a seminal piece – not only having revealed the ALP's inner workings, but having highlighted policy issues and structural problems which continue to be of concern.
Under former president Hamid Karzai, Afghanistan was little more than a ‘vertically integrated criminal organisation’, according to a new book. EPA/Parwiz Sabawoon

Book review: Thieves of State – Why Corruption Threatens Global Security

Corruption can directly contribute to the growth of the very forces the world’s security agencies are desperately trying to contain and combat.
Any discussion of ‘mateship’ in 2015 will inevitably exist in the shadow of the centenary of the landings at Gallipoli. Australian War Memorial

Book review: Mateship – A Very Australian History

In late 2007, a couple of months after our last HSC exam, one of my best friends punched me. In hindsight, I probably deserved it. We were 18, liberated from school and newcomers to alcohol. To make a…
In a new book, author Frank Moorhouse calls for a new compact between intelligence agency ASIO and Australian society. AAP/Dan Peled

Book review: Australia Under Surveillance

Frank Moorhouse is known primarily – but not exclusively – for his award-winning fiction such as the Edith Triology. In more recent times, he has turned his considerable talents to the role of the Australian…
Actor and activist Russell Brand’s solution for what ails us is nothing less than a revolution. EPA/Hannah McKay

Russell Brand: a hero for our times?

Three things about the present era are especially striking. First, problems persist. For those fortunate enough to have grown up in post-war Australia in particular, this is a somewhat surprising reality…
Julia Gillard’s My Story is about defending her legacy, but she is not blind to the faults of the Labor Party nor to her own mistakes. AAP/Dean Lewins

Book review: Gillard’s My Story, a defence of her prime ministership

Julia Gillard’s autobiography, My Story, presents a comprehensive defence of her prime ministership. Gillard dives straight into the heart of her story, beginning on the day she was sworn in as prime minister…
A 9-metre-long early relative of T rex that stalked the Early Cretaceous of northern China was the first truly terrifying feathered dinosaur discovered. Brian Choo

Book review: Flying Dinosaurs – How fearsome reptiles became birds

While a week can be a long time in politics, palaeontology typically moves more sedately, in keeping with its subject matter (the slow progression of the aeons). But one area of fossil research is seeing…
A new book on the battle of Fromelles adds to both what we know and how we should be wary of the battle’s popular legend. AAP/Christopher James

Book review: The Lost Legions of Fromelles

Almost exactly 98 years ago, the Fromelles legend goes, the 5th Australian Division was thrown into battle by stupid British generals and slaughtered. Overnight, 5500 men were killed or wounded: supposedly…
Let’s not underestimate the intellectual goodwill that sustains our literary culture. Antoine Robiez

In defence of book reviewers in Australia

Book reviewers and the editors of periodicals that commission them are used to sour assessments of their worth, but Professor John Dale’s article on The Conversation yesterday is in a class of its own…
We all know a good review when we read one – but what actually differentiates a good review from a bad one? Hartwig HKD

Here they are: the rules for book reviewing

Good book reviews are all alike while every bad review is bad in its own way. In Australia reviews are often bad in many different ways. Historically the trade has consisted of retired English academics…
You can still fish for fun in Sydney Harbour, but there are rules for how much fish your should eat because past tests have shown elevated levels of dioxins in fish and crustaceans. Peter Hindmarsh/Flickr

Book review: Poisoned Planet

The World Health Organization estimates that one in every 12 deaths worldwide is due to chemical exposure, sometimes acute but mostly chronic. This eclipses the annual death tolls from malaria, car crashes…
Malcolm Fraser’s new book, Dangerous Allies, is one of the most original and timely contributions to Australia’s foreign policy debate, which tends to be sterile and predictable. AAP/Luis Enrique Ascui

Book review: Dangerous Allies by Malcolm Fraser

Malcolm Fraser occupies a rather unique place in Australia as someone who has, at different times, managed to incense both ends of the political spectrum. If nothing else this is indicative of someone…
Media mogul Rupert Murdoch may still bestride the world like a colossus, but the world is shifting under his feet. AAP/Dan Himbrechts

Book review: Rupert Murdoch – A Reassessment

In the late 1980s, shortly after Rupert Murdoch’s News Ltd had swallowed the Herald and Weekly Times to become the print media behemoth that it is today, I found myself working on the subeditors’ table…
A new book argues for an ambitious rethinking of how journalists are trained, arguing universities should aim to create ‘knowledge journalists’ with deep specialist areas of expertise. Sean Savage

Book review: Informing the News – The Need for Knowledge-Based Journalism

Journalists and their editors can be rude about schools of journalism. When Columbia University cut its journalism program from two years to one year, the New York Daily News called it “a step in the right…
Read on for some notable children’s books from the year gone by. San José Library

Tales of mystery and the mundane: children’s books in 2013

What makes a children’s book compelling? Is it a driving, action-centred plot that forces us to turn the page? Is it a puzzle that we solve from clues thrown down by the narrator – or is it a story that…
Murdoch’s World, by David Folkenflik, looks back at the scandal that beset Rupert Murdoch’s business empire. EPA/Drew Angerer

Review: Murdoch’s World – the last of the old media empires

The eruption of the News International phone hacking scandal has caused significant problems for Rupert Murdoch and his business empire. It forced him to close his big money spinner, News of the World…

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