A Bigger Picture

By Malcolm Turnbull (2020) To re-tell a recent joke, with apologies to Frankie Boyle, Turnbull’s memoir is not like Turnbull the man, in 2 respects: it has a spine, and you may not want to put it down. Yes, we’re on record as not being Malcolm fans, for whom this pretty well written and interesting book is designed, though it holds wider interest in following the August path of destiny for Australia’s 29th Prime Minister, a path strewn with garlands and fleeting triumphs, told in a voice of peerless self-confidence, well described by Jonathon Green in the Sydney Morning Herald…

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The Anarchy

‘The Relentless Rise of the East India Company’ (By William Dalrymple) (2019) “Don’t Be Evil.”  The motto of Google, Inc., which has become something of a cocktail-party joke. At least the British East India Company never pretended to run India for the Indians. There’s a risk in applying contemporary morality to historical figures and events. This is not to say History will be kind to, say, Mao, but a true fair history has to take a walk in the target’s shoes.  In this deep and worthy book, Mr Dalrymple tracks the serpentine path of the British East India Company, the…

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All things Must Pass

March 4, 2020 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | Australian History, AUSTRALIANIA, LIFE, Ulalume |

(2017: Holden manufacturing (with wages well above market level) in Australia ceases; 2020: The Holden car (its models no longer competitive at the list price) ceases for good.  Certain commentators suggest governments should have ‘done more‘) ‰ We’ve had much hand-wringing of late  And cries for intervention by the State, To return us to the good old times Of subsidies and other nursery-rhymes. ⊕ ”Invest” (in losers) interventionists cry, Raise the prices till no one can buy, The Holden car, well ‘she’s a bloody beauty’; When markets fail, we all have a duty. ⊗ (One absorbs the books by Marx,…

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Slaughterhouse 58

February 14, 2020 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | HISTORY |

We recall the bombing of Dresden on 13-15 February 1945 By then, the War had reached a point where cruelty and violence was indiscriminate, a mad point born of seemingly ceaseless battle. And Auschwitz had been ‘discovered’ shortly before. And Dresden did have some sorts of military value as a target.  And the German army were fighting a spirited rear-guard action. “And so it goes.” “It seems to me that the moment has come when the question of bombing of German cities simply for the sake of increasing the terror, though under other pretexts, should be reviewed. Otherwise we shall…

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The Unmaking of a Mayor

All smiles; Candidates Beame, Buckley & Lindsay

By William F. Buckley, Jr (1966) New York may well be the greatest city in the world. The Varnished Culture loves it, as we have said again and again and again and again. But we are unlikely to have loved it in 1965. Then, as erudite Tory gadfly Buckley pungently puts it in his floridly verbose and fascinating account of that year’s Mayoral election, “You can’t walk from one end of New York to the other without a good chance of losing your wallet, your maidenhead, or your life; or without being told that white people are bigoted, that Negroes…

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