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Australian Biography
Private Bill: In Love and War

Private Bill: In Love and War

Barrie Cassidy

$29.99

You know Barrie Cassidy as the amiable host of ABC TV's The Insiders, where he and a panel try to make sense of the week's political happenings each Sunday.

What you didn't know about Barrie Cassidy is that his father was a WW2 prisoner of war for over 4 years and Barrie's mother thought her husband was dead. In an artful mixture of storytelling and memoir Barrie tells the poignant tale of hardship and conflicting emotions that followed. It's a story that Barrie teased out over 20 years and could only be fully told following the passing of his mother earlier this year.

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William (Bill) Cassidy - Barrie's father - survived almost 1500 days as a prisoner of war. He first saw conflict on Crete on 20 May, 1941, when he stood under the only large scale parachute invasion in wartime history. Just four days later, he was lying in a field hospital, wounded and captured.

Four years after that, virtually to the day, he woke up at a prison camp in Klagenfurt, Austria, to find the gates flung open and the guards gone.

During those years, Bill saw colleagues blown up in front of him. He witnessed the "murder" of the enemy, with their hands in the air surrendering. He survived a shocking six day journey crammed into a cattle train, an experience that killed others around him. He endured near starvation and extreme cold as part of a work gang in the Austrian alps. He escaped, and helped others escape, and paid the cruel consequences.

His wife, Myra, too was a prisoner of sorts, inexplicably refusing to ever leave the house in the small country town where they lived after the war. She had her own secrets.

For many months after the Battle of Crete, Myra believed her husband was dead. She had an affair with a local man, gave birth to a son and had the child adopted at birth.

Just a few months after the 50th anniversary of the Battle of Crete - when Bill was 80 and Myra 76 - a letter arrived for Myra in the mail. The writer said, in part: "I think you're my mother and I want to meet you."

The revelation opened up old war wounds and threw an otherwise loving couple who had given their lives to one another, into a late life crisis.

Barrie Cassidy at Abbey's Bookshop 131 York Street, Sydney
A Forger's Progress: The Life of Francis Greenway

A Forger's Progress: The Life of Francis Greenway

Alasdair McGregor

$49.99

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The incredible fall, rise and demise of Francis Greenway, Australia's first government architect.

A forger and convicted felon, Francis Greenway was transported to Sydney in 1814. Only a decade later, his dreams of a 'city superior in architectural beauty to London' began to be realised as he designed Hyde Park Barracks, St James' Church, the Supreme Court, St Luke's Church in Liverpool and the Windsor courthouse.

In this first biography of Greenway since 1953 award-winning author Alasdair McGregor scrutinises the character and creative output of a man beset by contradictions and demons.  He profiles Greenway's landmark buildings, his complex and fraught relationship with Governor Lachlan Macquarie, and his thwarted ambitions and self-destruction.

A Forger's Progress: The Life of Francis Greenway by Alasdair McGregor at Abbey's Bookshop 131 York Street, Sydney
Bill: The Life of William Dobell

Bill: The Life of William Dobell

Scott Bevan

$35.00

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SIGNED COPIES WHILE STOCK LASTS!

In post-war Australia, William Dobell was a household name. But the most famous artist in the land was a broken man. His Archibald Prize-winning portrait of Joshua Smith was the subject of a sensational legal case, challenging not only Dobell’s right to the prize, but the very idea of art itself. Dobell won the legal battle but lost so much else. His health was shattered, and his desire to paint was wiped out. He had to get away. Just north of Sydney, Wangi Wangi is far removed from big city life. Dobell moved to Wangi to escape fame, but in that beguiling little place he found community and friendship, and he rediscovered the passion to paint – and the joy of life.

Through years of research and interviews with Dobell’s friends and long-time locals, acclaimed author and former Wangi resident Scott Bevan discovered how the village protected the artist, cared and posed for him, drank and partied with him. Wangi loved him as one of their own. To the world, he was Sir William Dobell, famous artist, but to Wangi, he was simply Bill. This is the story of one of Australia’s greatest artists. It explores how ambition and talent took a working class boy a long way in the world, and how the reaction to one painting almost destroyed him. It’s also a celebration of community, and how one man finally discovered where he belonged – in the unlikeliest of places.

Bill: The life of William Dobell by Scott Bevan at Abbey's Bookshop 131 York Street, Sydney
John Olsen: An Artist's Life

John Olsen: An Artist's Life

Darleen Bungey

$59.99

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This landmark biography by Darleen Bungey, the author of the celebrated biography of Arthur Boyd, graphically depicts the forces that drove John Olsen to become one of the country's greatest artists. An exhilarating book, both trenchant and tender, it strips away the veneer of showmanship and fame to show the substance of a painter driven by a need to depict his country's landscape as Australians had never seen it before.

Given access to his uncensored diaries and drawing on years of extensive interviews with both Olsen and those who have known him best, she explores his passionate life and follows his navigation though the friendships, rivalries and politics of the Australian art world. How did a shy, stuttering boy from Newcastle, neglected by his alcoholic father, come to paint the great mural Salute to Five Bells at the Sydney Opera House?

This biography follows that journey: from Olsen's early experiences in the bush, particularly a formative period at Yass (a time previously unrecorded), through his years of cleaning jobs to pay his way through art school, to a milestone time spent in France and Spain, and traces his constant travels and relocations within Australia, including his epic journeys into the outback and to Kati Thanda-Lake Eyre.

From a child who was never taken to an art gallery, who learnt how to draw from comics, we come to see the famous artist in the black beret, the writer and poet, the engaging public speaker, the bon vivant - whose life has been defined by an absolute need to paint.
What Days Are For: A Memoir

What Days Are For: A Memoir

Robert Dessaix

$29.99

One Sunday night in Sydney, Robert Dessaix collapses in a gutter in Darlinghurst, and is helped to his hotel by a kind young man wearing a T-shirt that says FUCK YOU.

What follows are weeks in hospital, tubes and cannulae puncturing his body, as he recovers from the heart attack threatening daily to kill him. While lying in the hospital bed, Robert chances upon Philip Larkin's poem 'Days'. What, he muses, have his days been for?  What and who has he loved - and why?

This is vintage Robert Dessaix. His often surprisingly funny recollections range over topics as eclectic as intimacy, travel, spirituality, enchantment, language and childhood, all woven through with a heightened sense of mortality.
Beyond Black and White: My Life In Music

Beyond Black and White: My Life In Music

Roger Woodward

$59.99

The definitive musical autobiography from internationally acclaimed Australian pianist Roger Woodward. 'I would have been about two when I first heard music played somewhere beyond the chicken run and dilapidated palings at the top of the back garden. I entered our neighbour's house through the back door and followed the sound to its source. The elegant old lady playing the black and white keys was as surprised as I was, but she seated me at the keyboard and coaxed me into having a turn ...' From his earliest years in post-war Sydney, Roger Woodward dreamed of a life of music. A gifted pianist, his talent led him overseas, like so many of his generation - first to study in Poland and then to England and the US. For the first time in a career spanning more than 50 years, Woodward shares his remarkable story in a memoir that is deeply personal, honest, passionate and layered. Classical music fans will be enchanted by the insights into recent and traditional musical masterpieces, as well as Woodward's perceptive recollections of his collaborations with composers such as Cage, Takemitsu, Radulescu, Xenakis, Barraque, Boulez and Stockhausen.
Margaret and Gough: The Love Story That Shaped a Nation

Margaret and Gough: The Love Story That Shaped a Nation

Susan Mitchell

$32.99

Gough had no small talk - Margaret had the gift of easy conversation.

He was often ill-at-ease in company and preferred his books. She was warm, inclusive and jollied him along. He had a vicious tongue and a quick temper. She always tried to see the best in people. He knew everything about the ideology, history and heroes of the labour movement. She trusted her instincts. They saw each other as equals and never hesitated to express their different viewpoints.

He may have passed the laws that changed the nation, but she made it possible.

This is a story of love, respect, struggle, success, failure, disappointment and resilience. The strength and endurance of this remarkable relationship helped change our nation politically, culturally and socially. Neither Gough Whitlam nor Margaret Dovey would have developed into what each became without the influence of the other. Through every major political change, every election campaign, every triumph and every loss, they stood together.

This takes us inside a partnership where the political was always personal and the personal was always political.
Gough Whitlam: His Time Updated Edition

Gough Whitlam: His Time Updated Edition

Jenny Hocking

$29.99

Gough Whitlam, Australia's twenty-first prime minister, swept to power in December 1972, ending twenty-three years of conservative rule. In barely three years Whitlam's dramatic reform agenda would transform Australia. It was an ascendancy bitterly resented by some, never accepted by others, and ended with dismissal by the Governor-General just three years laterandmdash;an outcome that polarised debate and left many believing the full story had not been told. In this much-anticipated second volume of her biography of Gough Whitlam, Jenny Hocking has used previously unearthed archival material and extensive interviews with Gough Whitlam, his family, colleagues and foes, to bring the key players in these dramatic events to life. The identity of the mysterious 'third man', who counselled the Governor-General, Sir John Kerr, in his decision to sack the twice-elected Whitlam government and appoint Malcolm Fraser as prime minister is confirmed here by Kerr himself, as the High Court justice Sir Anthony Mason, and the full story of his involvement is now revealed for the first time. From Kerr's private papers Hocking details months of secret meetings and conversations between Kerr and Mason in the lead-up to the dismissal, that had remained hidden for over thirty-seven years. In response to these revelations Sir Anthony Mason released an extensive public statement, acknowledging his role and disclosing additional information that is fully explored in this new edition. This definitive biography takes us behind the political intrigue to reveal a devastated Whitlam and his personal struggle in the aftermath of the dismissal, the unfulfilled years that followed and his eventual political renewal as Australia's ambassador to UNESCO. It also tells, through the highs and the lows of his decades of public life, how Whitlam depended absolutely on the steadfast support of the love of his life, his wife, Margaret. For this is also the story of a remarkable marriage and an enduring partnership. The truth of this tumultuous period in Australia's history is finally revealed in Gough Whitlam: His Time
Love without Limits: A Remarkable Story of True Love Conquering All

Love without Limits: A Remarkable Story of True Love Conquering All

Nick Vujicic ,  Kanae Vujicic

$29.99

Even though he was born without arms or legs, Nick Vujicic created a 'ridiculously good life' for himself. But after dating disappointments and a long-term relationship that ended in heartbreak, he reached his mid- twenties worried that he would never find a woman to love and share his life. Then Nick met Kanae, and everything changed. But even with undeniable chemistry, they would have to navigate twists and turns worthy of a romantic comedy before becoming 'one' in marriage. In Love Without Limits Nick and Kanae tell how they improbably found each other, fell in love and then fought to overcome scepticism from others about their relationship. Filled with practical insights that will benefit any couple, this inspiring book describes a godly courtship and the early years of the Vujicics' marriage and parenting journey. Above all, Love Without Limits is an inspiring reminder that when faith is at the centre of a relationship - even one with serious challenges - true love will triumph.
The Dirty Chef: From Big City Food Critic to Foodie Farmer

The Dirty Chef: From Big City Food Critic to Foodie Farmer

Matthew Evans

$22.99

How do you go from being an urban dag to a country boy without any experience of the bush? In 2008 Matthew Evans, one of Australia's most powerful food critics, stepped off the Sydney treadmill to farm 20 acres in Australia's southernmost shire. What is it really like to take the plunge, leaving a whole world of familiar people, places and work behind? How does it feel to use a cordless drill for the first time, to plant a vegetable garden, to milk a cow, to slaughter a chook for dinner? And what if a TV show is filming the whole process? This is the story of that transformation. The story of a life more in tune with the seasons and more connected to the soil. A life that is as rewarding as it is exhausting. The story of a family trying to turn a living from the noble and ancient art of growing things on the land.
Shine: Making the Most of Life Without Losing Yourself

Shine: Making the Most of Life Without Losing Yourself

Samantha Armytage

$24.99

'Armytage now reigns as the official queen of morning television' - The Daily Telegraph You probably recognise Samantha Armytage from her many TV gigs - from her current role as co-host of SUNRISE to her time on DANCING WITH THE STARS. What you probably don't know is that Sam is a daughter, sister, friend and career journalist - who grew up in NSW's Snowy Mountains and worked her way to the famed morning TV couch by earning her journalistic chops reporting on politics in Canberra, Schapelle Corby's trial and unrest in East Timor. SHINE is a chance to find out what Sam wishes she had known when she was younger. It's how she sets goals and keeps her feet on the ground. It's what she's learned (and is still learning) from her family and mentors. SHINE is a conversation about dealing with everything life throws at you - good and bad - including: - Loving your body - Keeping fit and eating healthy - Having an open mind - Being organised - Living with flair - Rising above negativity - Being a woman of substance - The importance of family - Being the leading lady in the movie of your life. SHINE shows that it's possible to keep your goals in sight and your head on right!
Between Duty and Design: The Architect Solder Sir J.J Talbot Hobbs

Between Duty and Design: The Architect Solder Sir J.J Talbot Hobbs

John J. Taylor

$59.99

The architectural work of Joseph John Talbot Hobbs is impossible to overlook in Perth and Western Australia. It dominates public spaces as well as domestic and business landscapes. A strong sense of duty determined that the diminutive fifty year old architect solder, J.J. Talbot Hobbs would in 1914 voyage to the First World War, where he survived the horrors of Gallipoli and the Western Front. Hobbs' powerful organisational skills positioned him as Australia's highest ranking soldier in Europe after the Great War. Organiser of Australian war memorials in France and Belgium, his stellar designs both there and throughout Western Australia are now largely forgotten. Who was J.J. Talbot Hobbs that he was considered to be of such importance at the time of his death that a memorial was built in one of the most prominent places in Perth?
I Once Met a Man

I Once Met a Man

R.M. Williams

$39.99

A collection of true stories from one of Australia's greatest folk heroes, accompanied by stunning photographs of central and outback Australia. Understand, then, that these chapters are concerned with the spirit of men and women from whom something of worth has shone out to make them worthy of record. You will note that the book is not of deeds, achievement, great honour; just that indefinable something that has no other name in our language but spirit... When Williams sold a handmade packsaddle to Sir Sidney Kidman for 5 pounds in 1933, he was in fact beginning one of the country's most highly successful manufacturing enterprises. The R. M. Williams label - famous for its sturdy riding boots, moleskins and oilskins - has since become beloved of country and city people alike. In I Once Met a Man, legendary Australian figure R. M. Williams tells wonderful stories of his most memorable encounters in the bush. From the rough riders to sideshow fighters, from the best woman drover in the west to a young English lady who raised her sons with their Aboriginal father's tribe, Williams recreates the characters he met in his harsh and hungry years spent on the road with a swag. This illustrated edition contains stunning photographs from leading Australian photographers taken in and around locations mentioned in R M's stories. It includes an introduction by former Prime Minister Mr John Howard and three new stories never before published.
Mawson and the Ice Men of the Heroic Age: Scott, Shackleton and Amundsen

Mawson and the Ice Men of the Heroic Age: Scott, Shackleton and Amundsen

Peter FitzSimons

$24.99

History comes to life with Peter FitzSimons in the story of Australia's most famous polar explorer and the giants from the heroic age of polar exploration: Scott, Amundsen and Shackleton. Sir Douglas Mawson, born in 1882 and knighted in 1914, remains Australia's greatest Antarctic explorer. On 2 December 1911, his Australasian Antarctic Expedition left Hobart to explore the virgin frozen coastline below Australia, 2000 miles of which had never felt the tread of a human foot. He was on his way to fulfil a national dream he had first conceived three years earlier, while on his first trip to the frozen continent on the Nimrod expedition under the leadership of the charismatic Anglo-Irishman Sir Ernest Shackleton. Even as Mawson and his men were approaching Antarctica, two other famous Antarctic explorers were already engaged in nothing less than a race to become the first men to reach the South Pole. While Roald Amundsen of Norway, with his small team, was racing with dogs along one route, England's legendary Scott of the Antarctic, with his far larger team, was relying primarily on ponies and 'man-hauling' to get there along another. As Mawson and his men make their home on the windiest place on earth and prepare for their own record-breaking treks, with devastating drama to be their constant companion, the stories of Amundsen and Scott similarly play out. With his trademark in-depth research, FitzSimons provides a compelling portrait of these great Antarctic explorers. For the first time, he weaves together their legendary feats into one thrilling account, bringing the jaw-dropping events of this bygone era dazzlingly back to life.
Slim: Another Day, Another Town

Slim: Another Day, Another Town

Slim Dusty ,  Joy McKean

$29.99

'It seems I've done most things I wanted to do, but of all things, I think I most enjoy finding good songs and recording them. There are so many songs I want to record that I will be kept busy for as long as I can keep it up ...It is the people you meet along the road of life who make the travelling easier. No wonder I loved it all.' - Slim Dusty Slim Dusty was Australia's most well-loved and best known country music performer. A legend in the bush, his famous hit 'A Pub With No Beer' made him a household name in the towns and cities too. This is the story of the life that Slim Dusty and Joy McKean shared for their fifty years of marriage and touring together - their love for each other, their family and their music - and their determination to bring country music to the whole of Australia. Slim died in 2003, but throughout Australia, and around the world, people are still playing his songs and passing them on to new generations of fans. In this updated edition of the classic autobiography, Joy McKean writes about her family's commitment to honouring his memory and their work to keep his name alive. If you love today's Australian country music, this is the story of where it all started. '...just like his lyrics, the prose is perfect. Here he is talking about the early Dusty days. It's just like listening to a bright spark in the bush.' - The Age 'Slim blazed the red-dirt trail for Australian singer/songwriters, allowing us to remain unashamedly ourselves.' - Missy Higgins
           
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