The Secret River dramatises the British colonisation of Australia in microcosm. The dispossession of Indigenous Australians is made comprehensible and ultimately heart-breaking as Will Thornhills claim over a piece of land he titles Thornhills Point on the beautiful and remote Hawkesbury River brings his family and neighbours into conflict with the traditional owners of the land. In 1806 William Thornhill, a man of quick temper and deep feelings, is transported from the slums of London to New South Wales for the term of his natural life. With his wife Sal and their children he arrives in a harsh land he cannot understand. But the colony can turn a convict into a free man. Eight years later Thornhill sails up the Hawkesbury to claim a hundred acres for himself. Aboriginal people already live on that river. Thornhill, a man neither better nor worse than most, soon has to make the most difficult choice of his life.
Islamic State stunned the world when it overran an area the size of Great Britain on both sides of the Iraq-Syria border in a matter of weeks and proclaimed the birth of a new Caliphate. In his timely book Islamic State: The Digital Caliphate, one of the Arab world’s most respected journalists Abdel Bari Atwan draws on his unrivaled knowledge of the global jihadi movement and Middle Eastern geopolitics. Based on extensive field research and exclusive interviews with IS insiders, the book outlines the group’s leadership structure, as well as its strategies, tactics, and diverse methods of recruitment. He also shows how the group’s rapid growth has been facilitated by its masterful command of social media platforms, the “dark web,” Hollywood blockbuster-style videos, and even jihadi computer games, producing a powerful paradox where the ambitions of the Middle Ages have reemerged in cyberspace. Islamic State has to be increasingly understood as a nation. Atwan draws a convincing picture of the Islamic State as a well-run organization that combines bureaucratic efficiency and military expertise with a sophisticated use of information technology.
Model Citizens: Riding For A Fall is a romantic thriller about two models who blackmail their way to the top in Los Angeles. They’ve got it made, until the bad (boy) karma catches up with them. Overnight, France’s Angela Durand and blonde Californian Joanne Hart become Super Models and global celebrities. The LA high life is at their fingertips. Multi-million-dollar modelling contracts with fashion’s biggest names. Rich and famous lovers. Private jet travel. The best manager in the business. What could possibly go wrong?
Hunting the Famous is a meditation on journalism and writing by veteran news reporter John Stapleton. Spanning the decades from the late 1969 to 2009, the book covers everything from the writer and journalist’s early years, saddled with a compulsion to write and not much else, to his years as a general news reporter on Australia’s two best newspapers, The Sydney Morning Herald and The Australian. Prior to becoming a staff reporter Stapleton’s unlikely promise to himself to live or die by the typewriter led to a string of encounters with some of the world’s most famous authors, including Gore Vidal, Dirk Bogarde, Paul Bowles, Joseph Heller, Al Alvarez, Anthony Burgess and Salman Rushdie. Hunting the Famous also includes affectionate portraits of Australian writers such as author David Malouf, poet Vicki Viidikas and hard drinking journalistic legends such as Jack Darmody and Joe Glascott.
Blackwater USA was the private army that the US government quietly hired to operate in international war zones and on American soil. Its contacts ran from miltiary and intelligence agencies to the upper echelons of the White House; it had a military base, a fleet of aircraft and 20,000 troops, but since September 2007 the firm has been hit by a series of scandals that, far from damaging the company, have led to an unprecedented period of expansion. This revised and updated edition includes Scahill’s continued investigative work into one of the greatest outrages of our time: the privatisation of war. While Barack Obama pledged to rein in mercenary forces when he was a senator, once he became president he continued to employ a massive shadow army of private contractors. Blackwater — despite numerous scandals, congressional investigations, FBI probes and documented killings of civilians in both Iraq and Afghanistan — remained a central part of the Obama administration’s global war machine throughout his first term in office.
From its birth in the late 1990s as the jihadist dream of terrorist leader Abu Musab al Zarqawi, the Islamic State has grown into a massive enterprise, redrawing national borders across the Middle East and subjecting an area larger than the United Kingdom to its own vicious brand of Sharia law. This is not another terrorist network but a formidable enemy in tune with the new modernity of the current world disorder. One of the world’s leading experts on terror financing Loretta Napoleoni argues that Ignoring these facts is more than misleading and superficial, it is dangerous. ‘Know your enemy’ remains the most important adage in the fight against terrorism. Here is a book extract.
The Archipelago of Souls is a novel set on two islands. The experiences on one become an antidote for the dark experiences of the other. The exposed place is King Island, in Bass Strait, where Australian soldier Wesley Cress comes to live after World War II. Wesley grew up in the Western Districts of Victoria, joined the Australian army from Manly in NSW and ended up fighting a solo war on Crete after he managed to get left behind by his unit and thus became its only survivor. On Crete, the second island in the novel, Cress fought an idiosyncratic war both with himself and with a largely unseen enemy. Day’s account of Cress’ grinding struggle on Crete is remarkable in every way. It is based on exhaustive research into the combat on Crete, a less familiar chapter than some other battles, a theatre in which geography played no small part.
The protagonist in the novella Attack at the Dolphin is caught between an enduring love for her husband and lust for a “toy boy”, a cadet at the newspaper where she works. Set against the backdrop of the high rolling heavy drinking Sydney of the 1990s, this delightful romp is written by former Sydney Morning Herald journalist and woman-about-town Bridget Wilson.
Attack at the Dolphin is a sometimes painful, always moving, often funny meditation on marriage and infidelity, love and lust, loyalty and treachery.
Australia’s best known Muslim community spokesman Keysar Trad has confounded friend and foe with his first serious book of poetry, Forays of the Heart. The book conflicts with the rabid reputation given to Keysar Trad by some talk back radio hosts and more extreme bloggers. Trad describes the book as a “broadcast of profound love”. The poems are peans of love directed at women other than his wife. The book records the distractions of love that came the author’s way during his toughest challenges. Humorous at times, the soul searching in these poems brings the reader to the universal experience of “love”. At a time when so-called marriage equality is the chant of the mainstream media, others are asking why these issues should be on the statute books at all, why a cultural institution like marriage belongs in the hands of the law makers, when, depending on your perspective, it belongs in the hands of the people themselves. Who are these people to tell other people how to live?
Last year was a “blood year” in the Middle East – massacres and beheadings, fallen cities, collapsed and collapsing states, the unravelling of a decade of Western strategy. We saw the rise of ISIS, the splintering of government in Iraq, and foreign fighters – many from Europe, Australia and Africa – flowing into Syria at a rate ten times that during the height of the Iraq War. What went wrong?
Big Time is the back-story of Mr Big from the TV series Sex and the City. It follows 10 years of Mr Big’s life from a carefree thirty-year-old banker to a married man, through his subsequent divorce, before he met Carrie in the first episode of the show. The story – from a man’s perspective – gives depth to a character many viewers of the television series were attracted to yet thought of as narcissistic. The intent in writing this story was for the reader to get to know and understand the man who was reluctant – or even unable – to commit to Carrie in the series.
In mid-September of 2014, in a scene being repeated a number of times across the historic suburb nestled in next to the southern flanks of the Harbour Bridge, it took 12 policemen and several housing officers to remove squatters from one of the houses on Argyle Place.