Alexander Hamilton

(by Ron Chernow) Definitive biography deals comprehensively with the life and work of the highly contentious Treasurer of the early republic.  (It largely bears out Gore Vidal’s fictional portrait of him in Burr). Hamilton was fundamentally a pessimist in an optimist’s land, who wrote that its inhabitants were fit for chains, hoping only for gold ones. [Update: In Vidal’s novel Burr, Hamilton, a powerful figure in the highly-charged early political days of the American Republic, is referred to as “that Creole bastard.”  The record is redressed, better late than never, by Chernow’s fine work and a new musical by Lin-Manuel Miranda, in…

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Vale Gough Whitlam

Gough Whitlam

Vale Edward Gough Whitlam (11 June 1916 – 21 October 2014) After the Australian Labor Party failed to win the cliffhanger federal election of 1961, in which it won no seats in Victoria, the leader, Arthur Calwell, failed to quell the left’s hatred of aid to non-government schools that lost it a stack of votes among working class Catholics. Eventually, on 8 February 1967, having not held the reins of power for the better part of a generation, federal caucus turned to Whitlam, who stared down the Victorian State Conference in June of that year (saying of their electoral death…

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Argo

A worried President Carter.

(dir. Ben Affleck) (2012) Competent, over-praised and ultimately futile defence of the Carter administration.

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The Greatest Game of Football Ever Played

I was ten years old in 1973 and already tempered by watching Glenelg lose Grand Finals. At the time, only the middle aged recalled our one Premiership season, a glorious against the odds win over Port (in 1934). Since 1967, the Club under Neil Kerley had gained new respect but that tended to dissipate each Spring.

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Shadows & Influence

Picnic at Hanging Rock

Joan Lindsay was born (1896) when Romanticism still cast its attractively unwholesome shadow and wrote her unique novel (1967) at the height of the Summer of Love.

In this chapter we attempt, briefly, to rope and steer the stubborn and amorphous beast that is influence, with respect to Picnic, both in the writing and its subsequent appreciation. Time and space were not frames of reference for Joan Lindsay. Unlike most of us, who use them to gauge, respectively, succession and mass and, together, motion, she regarded them as metaphysical states of mind.

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