ABBEY’S BOOKSELLER PICK —— Sandra Pankhurst runs a business that cleans up after messes others can’t – deaths, accidents, hoarders and abnormal squalor. She is compassionate, practical and gently insistent with her clients. It’s because she has suffered too much herself to be judgmental. Born a boy, adopted, neglected, abused, married young. Then the gay scene, drag queens, sex-work and gender reassignment. Add drink and drugs, horrific crimes committed against her; but also success in business and a loving husband – Sandra has lived fully! Intersperse with clients’ stories and you have a book as fascinating as the woman herself! Lindy Jones
Before she was a trauma cleaner, Sandra Pankhurst was many things - husband and father, drag queen, gender reassignment patient, sex worker, small businesswoman, trophy wife.
But as a little boy, raised in violence and excluded from the family home, she just wanted to belong. Now she believes her clients deserve no less.
A woman who sleeps among garbage she has not put out for forty years. A man who bled quietly to death in his lounge room. A woman who lives with rats, random debris and terrified delusion. The still-life of a home vacated by accidental overdose.
Sarah Krasnostein has watched the extraordinary Sandra Pankhurst bring order and care to these, the living and the dead - and the book she has written is equally extraordinary. Not just the compelling story of a fascinating life among lives of desperation, but an affirmation that, as isolated as we may feel, we are all in this together.
The wartime letters and diaries of Pompey Elliott, Australia's most famous fighting general, are exceptionally forthright. They are also remarkably illuminating about his volatile emotions.
Pompey not only wrote frankly about what happened to him and the men he was commanding; he was also frank about what he felt about both. Having arranged a no-secrets pact with his wife for their correspondence before he left Australia in 1914, he adhered to that agreement throughout the conflict.
Moreover, Pompey expressed himself vividly in his diaries and other correspondence. He wrote rapidly and fluently, deploying fertile imagery, a flair for simile, and an engaging turn of phrase. His extraordinary letters to his young children turned even the Western Front into a bedtime story.
Pompey was prominent in iconic battles and numerous controversies. He was wounded at the Gallipoli landing, and four of his men were awarded the Victoria Cross for conspicuous bravery at Lone Pine. No one was more instrumental than Pompey in turning looming defeat into stunning victory at both Polygon Wood and Villers-Bretonneux. No Australian general was more revered by those he led or more famous outside his own command.
This book, by the author of the award-winning and best-selling biography Pompey Elliott, will lead to a new appreciation of Pompey's character and his importance in the dramatic final year of World War I.
Eddie Ayres has a lifetime of musical experience - from learning the viola as a child in England and playing with the Hong Kong Philharmonic for many years, to learning the cello in his thirties and landing in Australia to present an extremely successful ABC Classic FM morning radio show. But all of this time Eddie was Emma Ayres.
In 2014 Emma was spiralling into a deep depression, driven by anguish about her gender. She quit the radio, travelled, and decided on a surprising path to salvation - teaching music in a war zone. Emma applied for a position at Dr Sarmast's renowned Afghanistan National Institute of Music in Kabul, teaching cello to orphans and street kids.
In Danger Music, Eddie takes us through the bombing and chaos of Kabul, into the lives of the Afghan children who are transported by Bach, Abba, Beethoven and their own exhilarating Afghan music. Alongside these epic experiences, Emma determines to take the final steps to secure her own peace; she becomes the man always there inside - Eddie.
In the tradition of Midnight Express, The Damage Done, Marching Powder and Hotel Kerobokan comes an extraordinary story of Australian resilience and survival in Afghan's notorious Pul-e-Charkhi prison, a place that's been described as 'the world's worst place to be a westerner'.
'I was arrested on Thursday 9th July 2009. On Wednesday I'd quit my job, killed a man and set his body on fire. I was sentenced to death. I'm not a good man, but I am an honest one. This is my story.'
Rob Langdon served in the Australian Army for almost fifteen years, before becoming a security contractor working in Iraq and Afghanistan. In July 2009 Rob was protecting a convoy when he shot and killed an Afghan guard during a heated argument after the guard drew a pistol on him. Rob's claim of self-defence was dismissed by a court in Kabul that refused to hear any of his evidence or call any of his witnesses, and he was sentenced to death in a matter of minutes.
Rob's death sentence was later changed to 20 years in jail, to be served in Afghanistan's most notorious prison, Pol-e-Charkhi, described as the world's worst place to be a westerner. Rob was there for seven years, and every one of those two thousand five hundred days was an act of survival in a jail run from the inside by the Taliban and filled with some of Afghanistan's most dangerous extremists and criminals.
In 2016 Rob was pardoned and released. The Seventh Circle is his extraordinary account of what it took to stay alive and sane in almost unimaginable circumstances.
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Hugh Riminton was a small-town New Zealand teenager with a possible drinking problem and a job cleaning rat cages at an animal lab when a chance meeting with a radio news director changed his life.
The news man took a chance on him and, at 17, Riminton became a cadet reporter. On the strength of a two line job ad in a Perth newspaper he escaped to Australia. It was the time of Hawkie, Bondy and $40,000 houses. Within three years of getting his start in television, he scored one of the most prestigious and sought after jobs in Australian journalism - London-based correspondent for the Nine Network.
As a foreign correspondent he travelled the world, reporting from Somalia, covering the IRA bombings, narrowly avoiding being murdered by a mob in Soweto; The Balkans are at war; the tanks are rumbling in the streets of Moscow. Back in South Africa he gets a chance to see up close the genius and humanity of the great Nelson Mandela. And then the Rwandan genocide began and Hugh is despatched to investigate - with former Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser tagging along.
As the French prepare to resume nuclear testing in the Pacific, Hugh flies to Tahiti to be caught in the middle of the protest riots. After a day of being teargassed and watching his hire car getting torched, evening falls with the capital Papeete in flames. His reporting wins him a Logie Award.
Over nearly 40 years he has been shot at, blown up, threatened with deportation and thrown in jail. He has reported from nearly 50 countries, witnessed massacres in Africa, wars and conflicts on four continents, and every kind of natural disaster.
He has also been a frontline witness to pivotal moments in Australian history - from the Port Arthur massacre to the political dramas of Canberra, receiving almost every major journalism award Australia has to offer.
MINEFIELDS is Hugh's fascinating story of over forty years on the frontline of the news game.
The incredible untold World War II story of Australian hero BARNEY GREATREX - from Bomber Command to French Resistance fighter.
A high school and university cadet in Sydney, Barney Greatrex signed up for Bomber Command in 1941, keen to get straight into the very centre of the Allied counterattack. The RAF's strategic bombing missions faced the deadliest and most dangerous fighting imaginable as they attempted to break the will of the German people and destroy its industrial might. Bombing Germany night after night, they faced continual enemy fighter attacks and anti-aircraft fire - death or capture by the Nazis loomed large. Very few survived more than 20 missions, and it was on his 20th mission, in 1944, that Barney's luck finally ran out: he was shot down over occupied France.
But Greatrex's war was far from over. Rescued by the French Resistance, he seized the opportunity to carry on fighting and joined his local Maquis. Alongside the men and women of the Vosges, he took part in the often savage and always dangerous operations against the occupying German forces to assist the Allies in the liberation of France.
Barney was awarded the French Legion of Honour after the war, and his unique World War II story, surviving two of its most dangerous and diverse battlefronts, is told here for the first time by acclaimed bestselling author Michael Veitch.
The sequel to Stillways, Steve’s acclaimed first memoir. Wine bars and strip clubs. Girls with flowers in their hair. Lust, and the best music the world has ever heard.
A thousand steps from the farm to the blue black highway, the adventure continues... In the sequel to his highly acclaimed first memoir Stillways Steve Bisley lands smack dab in the middle of Sydney. It’s 1966. High waisted bell bottom pants, paisley body shirts, velvet jackets, platform shoes and a lust for everything life has to offer him. And it offers him a lot.
From cadet graphic artist to private eye, lover, fighter, dreamer, milk man, truck driver and everything in between and then some. Till the day he auditions for the acting course at The National Institute of Dramatic Art and to his dismay is accepted, along with fellow classmates, Judy Davis and Mel Gibson. Three years later, on their graduation day, Mel and Steve are cast in a film that will change their lives forever. The Iconic Australian cult film Mad Max.
In this sensory and poetic memoir, actor Steve Bisley reflects on loving, losing, wrecking and running – the bridges burned – in the decades since hitchhiking away from the small family farm on the central coast of NSW in the 1960s. He explores with confronting honesty what it is to live on the edge of uncertainty, regret, despair and depression as an actor, lover and father, a life held together at times “by bits of frayed cotton and Perkin’s paste and hope”.
In 2014, Stillways was shortlisted for The N.S.W Premier’s Literary Awards, The National Biography Awards and The Queensland Literary Awards.
Robert Stigwood was the first media mogul in Britain to be dubbed 'Mr Showbiz". After an extraordinarily large life he died 4 January 2016. This is his story - warts and all.
Born in Port Pirie, South Australia and moving to the UK in the 1950s where he soon established a theatrical agency, at the height of his success, in the 1970s, Robert Stigwood 'Stiggy', was the entertainment industry's most powerful tycoon. He came to renown managing the careers of the Bee Gees, Cream and Eric Clapton. He produced films including Gallipoli, Saturday Night Fever, Tommy and Grease. He was behind West End and Broadway musicals that were huge hits. Stigwood owned the record label that issued his artists' albums and film soundtracks, and he also controlled publishing rights.
In addition to the many periods of success, there were also great crashes including an infamous Chuck Berry tour that failed to attract audiences and forced Stiggy to declare bankruptcy.
In early 1966, Stigwood became the booking agent for the Who and also began managing the fledgling British group Cream, signing them to his record label Reaction, and their album was immediately successful. Stigwood's ability to pick and promote talent was astounding and he was also known for his many fallings-out.
In 1967 the Australian group the Bee Gees arrived in the UK and Stigwood claimed that they were going to be as big as the Beatles. By April, the Bee Gees had their first top 20 hit, and by September their first UK no 1.
Stigwood moved into theatre production and took Hair to London. After hearing a demo of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice's musical Jesus Christ Superstar, Stigwood invested in the project. He oversaw the New York stage production and in 1973 produced the film adaptation. Stigwood continued to work with Lloyd Webber and right up to the 1996 film of Evita.
Stiggy got involved in making British television sitcoms and adapting them for US audiences.
After watching John Travolta in Welcome Back, Kotter, Stigwood signed him to a three-picture deal. After reading an article by British journalist Nik Cohn Stigwood developed it into the feature film Saturday Night Fever and asked the Bee Gees to write its music. The album soundtrack remains the biggest seller of its kind while the film proved a huge hit and helped make disco music an international phenomenon. Stigwood then produced the film of the musical Grease.
Stigwood lived like it up with private planes, yachts, a Central Park West penthouse in New York and staff. The failure of the big-budget musical film of the Beatles' album Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band got to him and his relationships and he sold his record label. Though his ability to create success had not left him entirely with musical productions and films benefitting from his involvement into the 1990s.
For many years he lived a mostly reclusive life in an estate on the Isle of Wight though remained a part of the lives of the Gibb family.
In this memoir, Susan Duncan reaches an age where there's no point in sweating long-term ramifications. There aren't any. This new understanding delivers an unexpected bonus - the emotional freedom and moral clarity to admit to hidden and often fiendish facts of ageing and, ultimately, to find ways to embrace them.
It also unleashes an overwhelming desire to confront her intractable 94-year-old mother with the dreadful secrets of the past before it is too late, no matter the consequences. It is the not-knowing, she says, that does untold damage.
Interwoven with stories from the land - building a fully sustainable eco-house in the mid-coast of NSW with her engineer husband Bob, and grappling with white-eyed roans, dogs, bawling cattle markets, droughts and flooding rains, not to mention blunt-speaking locals - this is a book about a mother and daughter coming to terms, however uneasy, with the awful forces that shaped their relationship.
As the inconstancies of age slow her down, Susan Duncan writes with honesty about discovery and forgiveness and what it takes to rework shrinking boundaries into a new and rich life.
Some plants have sustained empires and sparked wars. Some have ignited public outrage. Think tea, opium, tulips - and thistles. Yes, thistles. In 1852 South Australia passed its Thistle Act, probably the first weed control legislation anywhere in the world. The word `thistle' refers to a large and widespread group of plants. Several hundred species within the Asteraceae family, plus a bunch of other plants we call thistles - even though technically, botanically, they're not. Google `thistles' and many of the sites will tell you how to get rid of them. Dig a little deeper, however, and from this weedy territory other narratives begin to emerge. Part accidental memoir, part environmental history, and part exploration of the performative voice on the page, The Book of Thistles is about the cultural and social life of this group of plants we call thistles.
On 22 June 2013, Corporal Cameron Baird was a 2nd Commando Regiment Special Forces soldier when he led his platoon into a known Taliban stronghold to back-up another Australian unit under heavy fire. In the pronged firefight, Cameron was mortally wounded.
In 2014, Cameron's bravery and courage under fire saw him posthumously awarded the 100th Victoria Cross, our highest award possible for bravery in the presence of the enemy. Cameron Baird died how he lived - at the front, giving it his all, without any indecision. He will forever be remembered by his mates and the soldiers he served with in the 2nd Commando Regiment.
THE COMMANDO reveals Cameron's life, from young boy and aspiring AFL player, who only missed out on being drafted because of injury, to exemplary soldier and leader. Cameron's story and that of 4RAR and 2nd Commando personifies the courage and character of the men and women who go to war and will show us the good man we have lost.
Told for the first time in his own words, this is the gripping inside story of Allan Moffat, an Australian motor sport legend.
Allan Moffat is one of the legends of Australian motor sport. His extraordinary driving career, which lasted from the mid-1960s to the late 1980s, coincided with the heyday of touring car racing. His achievements included 32 Australian Touring Car wins, four of them at Bathurst, and four Championships. His Trans Am Mustang, surely the definitive racing touring car of all time, claimed more than 100 victories. But Moffat's impact went well beyond the winner's podium. He brought a new level of business professionalism to motor racing, pioneering the use of sponsorship in a way that would change the sport forever.
Moffat, intense, reserved and driven, has been known as a man of few words. For years motor-sport fans have wanted to hear his story, and now Allan is telling it for the first time. His book is the compelling account of a young Canadian who moved to Australia with his family as a boy and became one of our greatest racing drivers. It's a tale of the epic rivalry with Peter Brock, which surprisingly culminated in a driving partnership and huge mutual respect, and it's about nostalgia for the glory days of motor sport in this country, when the concept of Holden versus Ford really did divide the nation, and when Mount Panorama was the true Mecca for hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of Australians.
Filled with intense rivalries, huge egos, on-course stories and incidents, and all against the backdrop of our motor sport history over more than forty years, this is THE book for all fans of Australian motor racing.
Swashbuckling and fearless, Ian Chappell epitomised Australian cricket in the 1970s. When he gave up the Test captaincy, he set out to salvage south Australian pride.
Chappell’s Last Stand zooms in on what was supposed to be the mercurial cricketer’s last year as a player, when he went to war with administrators and took his state side from wooden spoon ignominy to shield glory.
Described in vivid detail by ABC journalist Michael Sexton, Chappell’s Last Stand investigates an astounding year of cricket from the perspectives of those who witnessed it first-hand. Illustrating the tenacity and cricketing genius of Ian Chappell, it provides unique insight into the rivalries, talents and tensions of a pivotal time in the sport, when the revolution of World Series Cricket was looming.
Featuring interviews with the greats from the era – Ian and Greg Chappell, Dennis Lillee, the late Terry Jenner and David Hookes, Rod Marsh, Jeff Thomson, Ashley Mallett and many more.
For more than four decades, Jim Maxwell has called the cricket for the ABC. Since 1973 he has covered 285 Test matches, including over 50 Ashes Tests, six tours to the West Indies, seven to the subcontinent, and five World Cups. His distinctive voice, dryly understated humour and immense knowledge of the game have been part of the fabric of Australian cricket for generations of listeners. It's not too much to say that Jim has been the sound of our summer.In his long-awaited memoir he reflects on his life and career, on key cricket moments that he's witnessed, and on the many and varied characters he's met along the way. The Sound of Summer is a deep insight into one of our best-loved commentators, and a fascinating, warm, nostalgic and uniquely informed view of the game he loves.
Mitchell Johnson is a once-in-a-generation Australian cricketer; a devastating left-arm fast bowler who became a household name following his epic performance in the 2013-14 Ashes series and the subsequent Test series against South Africa. But behind the cult image and fearsome pace bowling is an unforgettable story of perseverance and persistence.
The story of how a shy 17-year-old champion tennis player was plucked from obscurity and anointed by Dennis Lillee is the stuff of sporting fairytales. Fast tracked into the Australian Under 19 side he made his Test debut in 2007. Within 12 months he had become the world's most feared bowler. But by 2011 the promise of greatness was unravelling. With form fading and confidence waning, he was jeered out of the game by the Barmy Army and a hostile press pack, his body and spirit giving way in South Africa in 2011.
Left questioning his ability and his future, Mitchell was ready to quit cricket, but resolved to give it one more shot. With the support of family and help from his old mentor and a war hero, he took his fitness to a whole new level and channelled his strength and renewed confidence back into his bowling.
Over two blistering seasons, at the age of 32, finally the world was able to see what Lillee had seen all those years ago. Mitchell Johnson's comeback has become one of cricket's most inspiring stories of the power of resilience.
In March 2016 Peter Moody, the man who took his 'good mare' Black Caviar to an unprecedented 25 straight victories, walked away from racing. Suspended for six months after he was found to have presented a horse on race day with an illegal level of cobalt in its system, the trainer made the drastic decision to close down his Caulfield stables altogether. How had it come to this?
In Moods, respected journalist Helen Thomas traces Moody's extraordinary career, and shines a spotlight on the cobalt scandal that engulfed him. Through interviews with family, colleagues and friends, and with Peter Moody himself, Thomas explores the horseman's life and achievements- from his time with turf legend T.J. Smith to the day he first noticed the bay filly who grew up to become Black Caviar, and the inquiry that led him to quit the job he loves.
Articulate yet reticent, tough yet sensitive, Moody is an intriguing character. For the first time, discover what drives the man who will always be remembered as Black Caviar's trainer, and a true Aussie legend.