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Australian Biography

Robert Menzies: The Art of Politics

Robert Menzies: The Art of Politics

Troy Bramston

$49.99
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Robert Menzies claimed the prime ministership in 1939 and led the nation during the early years of the war, but resigned two years later when he lost the confidence of his party. His political career seemed over, and yet he staged one of the great comebacks to forge a new political party, devise a new governing philosophy, and craft a winning electoral approach that as to make him Australia's longest-serving prime minister.

The lessons Menzies learned - and the way he applied them - made him a model that every Liberal leader since has looked to for inspiration. But debate over Menzies' life and legacy has never settled.

Who was Robert Menzies, what did he stand for, what did he achieve? Troy Bramston has not only researched the official record and published accounts, but has also interviewed members of Menzies' family, and his former advisers and ministers. He has also been given exclusive access to family letters, as well as to a series of interviews that Menzies gave that have never been revealed before. They are a major historical find, in which Menzies talks about his life, reflects on political events and personalities, offers political lessons, and candidly assesses his successors.

Robert Menzies is the first biography in 20 years of the Liberal icon - and it contains important contemporary lessons for those who want to understand, and master, the art and science of politics.
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A Spanner in the Works: The extraordinary story of Alice Anderson and Australia's first all-girl garage

A Spanner in the Works: The extraordinary story of Alice Anderson and Australia's first all-girl garage

Loretta Smith

$32.99
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From the end of the Great War and into the 1920s, Alice Anderson was considered nothing less than a national treasure. She was a woman of 'rare achievement' who excelled as a motoring entrepreneur and inventor. Young, petite, boyish and full of charm, Alice was the first woman in Australia to successfully pull off an almost impossible feat: without family or husband to back her financially, she built a garage to her own specifications and established the country's first motor service run entirely by women.

Alice was also an adventurer, and her most famous road trip occurred in 1926 in a Baby Austin she had purchased exclusively to prove that the smallest car off a production line could successfully make the 1500-mile-plus journey on and off road from Melbourne to Alice Springs, central Australia.

However, less than a week after her return, Alice was fatally shot in the head at the rear of her own garage. She was only twenty-nine years old. Every newspaper in the country mourned her sudden loss. A coronial inquest concluded that Alice's death was accidental but testimonies at the inquest were full of inconsistencies.

Alice's life was brief but extraordinary, and in this richly detailed and entertainingly told book this pioneering Australian woman comes to life for readers for the first time.
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Elizabeth Macarthur: A Life at the Edge of the World

Elizabeth Macarthur: A Life at the Edge of the World

Michelle Scott Tucker

$24.99
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In 1788 a young gentlewoman raised in the vicarage of an English village married a handsome, haughty and penniless army officer. In any Austen novel that would be the end of the story, but for the real-life woman who became an Australian farming entrepreneur, it was just the beginning.

John Macarthur took credit for establishing the Australian wool industry and would feature on the two-dollar note, but it was practical Elizabeth who managed their holdings-while dealing with the results of John's manias- duels, quarrels, court cases, a military coup, long absences overseas, grandiose construction projects and, finally, his descent into certified insanity.

Michelle Scott Tucker shines a light on an often-overlooked aspect of Australia's history in this fascinating story of a remarkable woman.
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An Irresistible Force: How Caroline Chisholm Helped Shape a Nation

An Irresistible Force: How Caroline Chisholm Helped Shape a Nation

Sarah Goldman

$24.99
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A fresh, spirited and engaging biography of a fascinating and influential woman who was absolutely instrumental in shaping modern Australia - but whose influence and importance has largely been forgotten.

Caroline Chisholm was a take-no-prisoners game-changer of Colonial Australia - as well as a charming, wholly committed, and utterly determined force of nature. Arriving in Australia in 1838, she was appalled by the plight of young female immigrants in Australia - there were no jobs for them, no accommodation, and many of them resorted to prostitution to survive. In response to this need, Caroline became a woman on a mission. She met every immigrant ship and became a familiar figure on the wharves, finding positions for immigrant girls and sheltering many of them in her home. As the government of the day refused to help, Chisholm established accommodation, services and the first emloyment office in the colony, drawing up the first ever employment contracts in Australia. She established minimum wages, found jobs and homes, created employment agencies in a dozen rural centres as well, and she managed to do all this without any assistance from the government of the time. In many ways a proto-feminist and committed social activist, she transformed life in Australia.

This is a long overdue, contemporary and lively reassessment of Caroline, bringing to life her spirited character, her modern relevance, her feminist credentials and her egalitarian spirit.
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An Unconventional Wife: The Life of Julia Sorell Arnold

An Unconventional Wife: The Life of Julia Sorell Arnold

Mary Hoban

$39.99
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Julia Sorell was an original. A colonial belle from Tasmania, vivacious and warm-hearted, Julia's marriage to Tom Arnold in 1850 propelled her into one of the most renowned families in England and into a circle that included Lewis Carroll and George Eliot. Her eldest daughter became a bestselling novelist, while her grandchildren included the writer Aldous Huxley, author of Brave New World, and the evolutionary biologist Julian Huxley.

With these family connections, Julia is a presence in many documented and famous lives, but she is a mostly silent presence. When extracted from her background of colonial life, extracted from the covers of marriage and family life, her story reveals an extraordinary woman, a paradox who defied convention as much as she embraced it.

What began as a marriage born of desire soon turned into a relationship riven by discord. Tom's sudden decision to become a Catholic and Julia's refusal to convert with him plunged their lives into a crisis wherein their great love for each other would be pitted against their profoundly different understandings of marriage and religion. It was a conflict that would play out over three decades in a time when science challenged religion, when industrialisation challenged agrarian forms, when democracy challenged aristocracy, when women began to challenge men. It was a conflict that would shape not only their own lives and that of their children, but also touch the lives of all those who came into contact with them.

Told with the pace, depth, and psychological richness of a great novel, An Unconventional Wife is a riveting biography that shines a shaft of light on a hidden but captivating life.
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Unconditional Love: A Memoir of Filmmaking and Motherhood

Unconditional Love: A Memoir of Filmmaking and Motherhood

Jocelyn Moorhouse

$32.99
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Jocelyn Moorhouse has a successful career as a gifted scriptwriter and film director, as well as a maintaining a marriage and a family of four children. How did she do it? Her memoir is a moving story of growing up with adoring parents and siblings. She knew early on that she wanted to be a filmmaker, and her dreams were encouraged by her family and by her teachers. Meeting P.J. Hogan, becoming parents and filmmakers together was a turning point. But when they discovered that two of their children were autistic, Jocelyn?s life turned upside down. In Unconditional Love, she talks from the heart, with humour and intelligence, about her fears for her children, the highs and lows in her international career, about Hollywood and home, and about her love for what she does best-filmmaking and motherhood.
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Seven Big Australians: Adventures with Comic Actors

Seven Big Australians: Adventures with Comic Actors

Anne Pender

$29.95
Comic actors have made a particularly strong contribution to cultural life in Australia over the past sixty years. They have brought a range of memorable characters to the stage, television and film; they have transformed our image of ourselves, helped to overturn the crippling cultural cringe, and brought Australian humour and satire to the world. The Australian theatre, television and film industries are dynamic in ways that could never have been imagined fifty years ago. These industries have expanded and demonstrated extraordinary vitality, with actors, as the public face of the performing arts, carrying the immediate responsibility for the success of each show. It is the actors, and often the characters they play, that we remember when we recall a favourite television program, film or play, long after we have seen it. In spite of this they are frequently left out of history.

This book draws on extensive interviews to present full, rounded portraits of seven significant Australian comic actors: Carol Raye, Barry Humphries, Noeline Brown, Max Gillies, John Clarke, Tony Sheldon, and Denise Scott. Taken together, these actors' careers span the period from the Second World War until the present and contributed immensely to the cultural life of millions of Australians.
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A Novel Idea

A Novel Idea

Fiona McGregor

$29.95
A Novel Idea is a memoir in photoessay form that follows Fiona McGregor's life as she writes her award-winning novel Indelible Ink. It is a tongue-in-cheek rumination on the monotony and loneliness of the novelist's daily life, and the act of endurance the writer must perform.

Through an extended sequence of photographs taken on a hand-me-down camera, accompanied by terse, evocative captions, the book spans several years of labour and procrastination, elation and despair. The details of the outside world intrude as McGregor works on the novel alone in her Bondi flat, with nothing but a desk, a pin-board, a laptop and a cat, and in studio spaces in Berlin and Estonia.

McGregor's voice is wry, vulnerable, at times caustic, capturing the colloquial qualities of her fiction and the durational nature of her performance art via the ephemeral and essential thoughts that take up an author's days, weeks, and years.

'A Novel Idea is a curiosity and a delight. Composed over years, Fiona McGregor's intimate photo-essay charts writing a novel: that collision of exhilaration, tedium, despair and sheer slog. It will captivate writers and readers alike.' - Michelle de Kretser

'Fiona McGregor casts out any pretence to literary mystique in a deadpan, ruthlessly honest, witty and at times surprisingly moving first person photographic narrative that draws us in, disarms us, leaves us vulnerable to the sudden poignancy of certain observations and revelations.' - Blair French
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Diary of a Crap Housewife: It's Time to Embrace Your Perfectly Imperfect Life

Diary of a Crap Housewife: It's Time to Embrace Your Perfectly Imperfect Life

Jessica Rowe

$29.99
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'Warning: this ain't no recipe book! But Jess's real, raw and often roaringly funny tales will nourish your soul. You'll devour it! And ask for seconds!' - Sarah Harris

'J-Ro's exuberance for this wonderful, sometimes messy and at times chaotic journey through life jumps joyfully out of each page. She's honest. She's disorganised. And she's got a heart of gold. Viva la Crap Housewife!' - Samantha Armytage

Why not cut the crap, take the pressure off, and admit to the moments, days, weeks and months when the wheels fall off?

In this fabulously funny, down-to-earth book, Diary of a Crap Housewife, Jessica Rowe writes honestly about her talent (or lack thereof) for cooking, about what's really important when it comes to mothering and family, and about her many and varied views, musings and commonsense advice on other crap housewife matters. As an added bonus, there are thirteen crap housewife recipes included, from Jessica's old favourite, spag bol, to a fresh and tasty Waldorf salad, and all so simple you can't go wrong.

Being a crap housewife is a badge Jessica wears with pride, and it's a title she invites other women to embrace. The idea of crap lies in the real-life messes, hiccups, disasters and bad meals that many of us dish up and deal with every day. This mum is tired of the photos of perfectly packed school lunches, posts about gourmet family dinners eaten together at the table, and tales of neat, tidy and obedient children with smoothly brushed hair.

It's time to reset the bar. Make expectations realistic. Strive to be kind, loving, smart and funny. Perfection is not required.

'Jess Rowe may be a crap housewife but she is a great writer and an even better friend. And she's right: I can be a bit of a smart arse.' - Joe Hildebrand

'This woman has enriched my life. And if you read this book your life will be enriched with honesty and love too!' - Denise Drysdale

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Barefoot in the Bindis

Barefoot in the Bindis

Angela Wales

$29.99
A circle of pine trees, a sagging wire fence, and a roof that was once painted red.

'There it is,' said Dad.

In 1953, after doctors prescribed fresh country air for his health, Scottish-born Robert Wales uprooted his young family from the city life of Sydney and set out to establish a sheep farm in the bush. What he lacked in experience and expertise, he made up for in enthusiasm. Or so he hoped.

When the family arrived on a lonely hill in northern New South Wales, they had no electricity, no running water, no telephone and no choice but to make that tangle of bush their home. From Angela Wales, eldest of the five kids, comes this extraordinarily vivid and evocative account of the next ten years as they tried to tame six thousand acres and navigate the challenges of country life.

Filled with drama and hilarity, joy and back-breaking toil, BAREFOOT IN THE BINDIS portrays a childhood spent in the bush, and is a sensational picture of Australia past.
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