Phil Shannon

Beloved Land: Stories, Struggles & Secrets From Timor-Leste
Gordon Peake
Scribe, 2013
250 pages, $29.95 (pb)

East Timor is a tale of two statistics, says Gordon Peake in Beloved Land, his engaging blend of history, memoir and travelogue about the former Portuguese and Indonesian colony.

One of the world's poorest nations, East Timor ranks a lowly 120th of 169 countries on the United Nations Human Development Index, but scores high on corruption at 15th on the World Bank’s business transparency report.

Undesirable: Captain Zuzenko & the Workers of Australia & the World
By Kevin Windle
Australian Scholarly Publishing, 2013
274 pages, $39.95 (pb)

On November 7, 1917, when the Winter Palace was stormed in Petrograd, sealing the victory of the Russian Revolution, Alexander Mikhailovich Zuzenko, one of the revolution’s most loyal servants, faced a local court in Ingham in northern Queensland. He was working on the canefields and was fined 10 shillings for losing his “aliens registration certificate”.

Big Coal: Australia’s Dirtiest Habit
Guy Pearse, David Mcknight, Bob Burton
Newsouth Publishing, 2013, 257 pages, $34.99 (pb)

You don’t have to look far to see why Australians are locked in an absurd and vicious circle of climate change, burning more coal to, for example, run more air conditioners to cope with the more severe heat waves from the global warming resulting from burning more coal.

Dirty Wars: The World is a Battlefield
Jeremy Scahill
Serpent’s Tail, 2013
642 pages

With his first drone strike in Pakistan just a few days after settling into the White House in 2009, the freshly minted Democratic President, Barak Obama, not only authorised the assassination of a handful of probable terrorists but killed up to two dozen innocent civilians.

Left Hand Drive
Craig McGregor
Affirm Press, 2013
334 pages $24.95 (pb)

Two experiences of institutional conformity — as a boarder at an elite private school and as an Australian army conscript — bequeathed a lifelong “fear and hatred of authoritarian systems” to Craig “Rob-Roy” McGregor, a blues-playing guitarist, would-be rebel, fringe Bohemian, journalist, novelist, cultural studies professor and fierce believer in equality.

Madlands: A Journey to Change the Mind of a Climate Sceptic
Anna Rose
Melbourne University Press, 2012
357 pages, $19.99 (pb)

Anna Rose, a young climate change activist, was warned by her many colleagues in the environment movement of the risks of agreeing to do a television documentary, screened earlier this year by the ABC, pitting her against the former Liberal Party senator, science minister and climate change denialist Nick Minchin.

Clive: The Story of Clive Palmer
Sean Parnell
HarperCollins, 2013
328 pages, $39.99 (hb)

When the local council denied planning permission for the Queensland National Party’s media director, Clive Palmer, to build a 66-story townhouse development on peaceful rural land in Caloundra on the Sunshine Coast in 1984, Palmer’s party and state government mate, Russ Hinze, helped the rich guy out by overturning the council decision.

The Bracegirdle Incident: How an Australian Communist Ignited Ceylon’s Independence Struggle
Alan Fewster
Arcadia/Australian Scholarly Publishing, 2013
173 pages, $39.95 (pb)

In 1937, Ceylon’s British Chief of Police reported that “it is clearly dangerous” to allow the Australian communist Mark Bracegirdle, to remain in the country “stirring up feelings against employers of labour and against the British Government”.

The Passion Of Bradley Manning: The Story Behind the WikiLeaks Whistleblower
Chase Madar
Verso, 2013
181 pages, $19.95 (pb)

The issue in the trial of Bradley Manning, the source of tens of thousands of US military and state secrets leaked to WikiLeaks, is, in some eyes, simple.

“He broke the law,” lectured United States President Barack Obama, conveniently overlooking, as Chase Madar comments in his book on Manning, the routine violation by the ruling elite of the principle that “rules are rules”.

Project Republic: Plans & Arguments for a New Australia
Edited by Benjamin T Jones & Mark Mckenna
Black Inc, 2013
251 pages, $29.99 (pb)

If the Australian Republican Movement (ARM) represents those who wish to make Australia a republic, yet the ARM sends congratulations to the Queen last year on her 60th year of rule from London, what hope is there for Australia becoming a royal-free zone?

Not much, must be the conclusion, after reading the ARM’s call-to-republican-arms book, Project Republic.

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