Phil Shannon

Dirty Secrets: Our ASIO Files
Edited by Meredith Burgmann
Newsouth, 2014
464 pages, $32.99 (pb)

The only thing worse, notes Meredith Burgmann in Dirty Secrets, than discovering that your personal file held by Australia’s domestic political police, ASIO, is disappointingly thin is to find out that your official subversion rating hasn’t warranted a file at all.

Play On! The Hidden History of Women’s Australian Rules Football
Brunette Lenkić and Rob Hess
Echo Publishing 2016,
324 pages

In a landmark development, the first national women’s Australian Football competition — AFL Women’s — will be launched next February. But a century ago, attitudes to women playing the game were very different.

Atmosphere of Hope: Searching for Solutions to the Climate Crisis
By Tim Flannery
Text Publishing, 2015
245 pages

Australian scientist Tim Flannery became fascinated with proposals to extract excess carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and oceans when the billionaire aeronautics carbon-polluter Richard Branson, in response to Flannery's first book on climate change, The Weather Makers, invited Flannery to be a judge on Branson's £25 million Virgin Earth Challenge prize for methods of carbon withdrawal and storage.

Faction Man: Bill Shorten's Path to Power
David Marr
Quarterly Essay No. 59
Black Inc., 2015

Even the usually perceptive journalist David Marr, in his latest political profile for Quarterly Essay, is defeated by the indistinct and bland Shorten who, in public opinion polls, trails behind “Someone Else” as preferred leader of the Labor Opposition.

Born To Rule: The Unauthorised Biography of Malcolm Turnbull
Paddy Manning
Melbourne University Press,2015
442 pages

Coalition Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull likes to downplay his image as a privileged, wealthy silvertail by touting his time as a flat-dwelling young boy from a broken family.

But, writes the business journalist Paddy Manning in his biography of the former investment banker, Turnbull's upbringing was not that humble.

Never Enough: Donald Trump & the Pursuit of Success
Michael D’Antonio
St Martin’s Press, 2015
389 pages

What will the United States and the world be getting from “President Donald Trump” if such a frightful prospect comes to pass?

Michael D’Antonio’s biography of the Republican Party’s front-running presidential candidate gives us some clues — denial of global warming, vaccination, marriage equality and abortion; insults and worse for religious and ethnic minorities, and for women and the disabled; and a turbo-charged US imperial power.

Slick Water: Fracking – and One Insider’s Stand Against the World’s Most Powerful Industry
Andrew Nikiforuk
Greystone Books/David Suzuki Institute
2015, 350 pages

The fracturing of rocks to mine more fossil fuels was born with the oil business, writes the Canadian journalist, Andrew Nikiforuk, in Slick Water.

During the world’s first oil boom in Pennsylvania in the 1850s, highly volatile nitro-glycerine and other explosives were used on sluggish wells with lethal risk, to turn them into gushers by creating new fractures to channel blocked oil to the surface.

The Hidden Wealth Of Nations: The Scourge Of Tax Havens
Gabriel Zucman
University of Chicago Press
2015, 129 pages

Criminal heists do not come any bigger than the global theft every year by the ultra-rich of about US$200 billion courtesy of the off-shore tax haven banking industry.

The Panama Papers has grabbed headlines, but in The Hidden Wealth of Nations, Gabriel Zucman, economics professor at the London School of Economics and Political Science, also takes a close look at the famous tax-evading practices in Switzerland.

Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right
Jane Mayer
Doubleday, 2016
449 pages

Like “dark matter” — the vast amount of invisible mass that holds the cosmos together — “dark money” is the astronomical quantity of hidden corporate money that holds the conservative US political universe together.

FBI raid in Miami gathering evidence on FIFA. May, 2015.

The Dirty Game: Uncovering the Scandal at FIFA
Andrew Jennings
Arrow Books, 2016
305 pages

The unravelling of the empire of Sepp Blatter, the multi-millionaire president of world football, began in 2014.


Subscribe to Phil Shannon