Phil Shannon

GLW author Phil Shannon

Looking behind the 'Clivosaurus' show

Clivosaurus: The Politics Of Clive Palmer
Guy Rundle
Quarterly Essay
November 2014
Black Inc., $19.99

Elected in 2013 by the curious, the disaffected and the dark arts of preference deals, billionaire Queensland coal baron Clive Palmer and his Senate threesome, were, at first, writes Guy Rundle in Clivosaurus, ignored or played for laughs by the establishment media.

Mark Latham's fantasies of a middle-class 'utopia'

The Political Bubble: Why Australians Don’t Trust Politics
Mark Latham
Macmillan, 2014
291 pages, $32.99 (pb)

The only thing surprising about the 4% of Australians who a poll last year said “almost always” trusted the federal government is that the figure is that high.

Further evidence of the many failures of Australian politics comes in The Political Bubble via an angry Mark Latham, the former leader of the federal Labor Party.

Unrepentant 'traitor' remains unforgiven

The Greatest Traitor: The Secret Lives of Agent George Blake
Roger Hermiston
Aurum, 2013
362 pages, $39.99 (hb)

George Blake was smart, resourceful and committed.

A teenage courier with the Dutch anti-Nazi resistance during the war and a British Secret Intelligence Service (SIS) spy after it, Blake then picked the wrong cause, says Roger Hermiston in The Greatest Traitor, converting to Marxism and becoming a Soviet mole in the SIS.

'What they fear is light' -- Greenwald tells the Snowden story

No Place To Hide: Edward Snowden, The NSA & The Surveillance State
Glenn Greenwald
Hamish Hamilton, 2014
259 pages, $29.99 (pb)

Glenn Greenwald’s No Place To Hide is not just a thrilling account of the award-winning journalist’s “cloak-and-dagger” encounter with National Security Agency (NSA) whistleblower Edward Snowden, but a clinical and impassioned analysis of the danger posed by the US’s vast surveillance state.

Corporate greed and government neglect in New Jersey

Toms River: A Story of Science & Salvation
Dan Fagin
Bantam Books, 2013
538 pages, $43.95 (hb)

In yet another chapter of the well-thumbed book of “corporate avarice and government neglect”, writes Dan Fagin, the town of Toms River in New Jersey, two hours south of New York, paid a high price in cancer for the pollution of the chemical giant, Ciba-Geigy.

How FBI dirty tricks were exposed

The Burglary: The Discovery of J. Edgar Hoover’s Secret FBI
Betty Medsger
Knopf, 2014
596 pages, $46.95 (hb)

As far as burglaries go, this one was pretty audacious. On March 8, 1971, nine anti-Vietnam-war activists in Pennsylvania burgled the FBI. They stole secret files in the regional FBI office in the small town of Media.

With careful planning, a little luck and plenty of pluck, the amateur burglars exposed, for the first time, the FBI’s political spying and suppression of democratic dissent.

Books delve into Labor's climate failures

Power Failure: The Inside Story of Climate Politics Under Rudd a& Gillard
Philip Chubb
Black Inc., 2014
302 pages, $29.99 (pb)

In 2007 in Australia, “climate policy was a reform full of promise and excitement,” writes Monash University journalism academic Philip Chubb in Power Failure.

How reef threat was stopped last time

The Coral Battleground
Judith Wright
Spinifex, 2014
203 pages, $29.95 (pb)

From the days when Captain Cook’s Endeavour tangled with the Great Barrier Reef off the coast of Queensland, humans had learned to fear the Reef with its “treacherous waters and weather”.

But now the reef “should fear us more”, writes Judith Wright in The Coral Battleground. It is a reprint of her 1977 account of the campaign to save the largest and most spectacular marine coral ecosystem in the world from oil drilling.

Carr's right-wing delusions on full display in memoir

Diary of a Foreign Minister
Bob Carr
Newsouth, 2014
502 pages

Too often, Bob Carr’s diary sounds like an episode of Grumpy Old Ministers.

An 18-month stint as foreign minister in the doomed Rudd-Gillard-Rudd federal Labor government, the globe-trotting Carr gripes about the dead prose of his departmental talking points, the lifeless food and draining jetlag of plane travel, the awfulness of hotels, Canberra (“the City of the Dead”) and contracting viruses from shaking hands all day on the campaign trail “without a hand sanitiser in the car ― damn!”

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Hollywood's hidden history of Nazi collaboration

The Collaboration: Hollywood’s Pact with Hitler
Ben Urwand
Belknap, 2013
327 pages, $39.95 (hb)

Throughout the 1930s, movie-goers all over the world got to see the German Nazi’s cut of every Hollywood film. Any movie touching on Germany contained no mention of Nazism or Jews.

Both these silences, as Harvard University’s Ben Urwand unearths in The Collaboration, were the result of a remarkable agreement allowing the Nazis to dictate Hollywood movie content in return for Hollywood studios keeping their access to the lucrative German market.

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