Two days after giving this speech Australia’s greatest provocateur, cartoonist Bill Leak, died suddenly of an alleged heart attack. With freedom of speech in Australia already under savage attack, his passing is a great loss for the country. Sometimes called racist, even homophobic, he was none of these things. He was exactly where he should be, on the splinter lines of a fracturing country. A superb artist, magnificent draftsman and an indefatigable eye for all that is going so badly wrong in the Great Southern Land, he will be greatly missed.
This is his final speech: Ladies and gentlemen, I know it’s International Women’s Day, so first I must apologise for not being a woman. It’s particularly regrettable that I’m not a glamorous Sudanese-Egyptian-Australian woman who wears a hijab promoting a book about what it’s like being a glamorous Sudanese-Egyptian-Australian woman who wears a hijab. If I was, this wouldn’t be the only event I’ve got lined up on my non-government-funded whirlwind Trigger Warning awareness-raising tour.
Hideout in the Apocalypse is about surveillance and the crushing of Australia’s larrikin culture.
In the last two years the Abbott/Turnbull government has prosecuted the greatest assault on freedom on freedom of speech in the nation’s history.
The government knew from international research that when it introduced the panopticon, universal surveillance, into Australia it would have a chilling effect on the culture. When people know they are being watched, they behave differently. Dissent is stifled, conformity becomes the norm. This is the so-called chilling effect.
Forced to use novelistic techniques to tell a fantastical story, in his latest book Hideout from the Apocalypse veteran reporter John Stapleton confirms the old adage, truth is stranger than fiction.
His essential theme: a place which should have been safe from an impending apocalypse, the quagmire of religious wars enveloping the Middle East, is not safe at all.
“Australia is a democracy in name only,” says John Stapleton. “The war on terror has become a war on the people. It has justified an enormous expansion of state power. Ideas are contagious, and the Abbott/Turnbull government is afraid of them.
The author of the groundbreaking Atlantic cover story What ISIS Really Wants, a piece which combined excellent research skills with superb journalism and transformed the debate over Islamic State, has now written arguably the best ever account of the strategy, psychology, and theology driving the Islamic State. Graeme Wood is one of the world’s most intellectually gifted journalists. Tens of thousands of men and women have left comfortable, privileged lives to join the Islamic State and kill for it. To them, its violence is beautiful and holy, and the caliphate a fulfillment of prophecy and the only place on earth where they can live and die as Muslims. The Way of the Strangers is an intimate journey into the minds of the Islamic State’s true believers. From the streets of Cairo to the mosques of London to the cafes of Melbourne, Graeme Wood interviews supporters, recruiters, and sympathisers of the group to produce this beautifully written, must-read book.
Very few books have even dared to mention the clandestine and deeply disturbing nature of Australia’s ultra-secretive national security organisations. Your worst dreams may just be true. Forty-six years after her father suddenly disappears, Australian intelligence analyst Anthea Tonelli lies in a bed at Balmoral Military Hospital, thinking of the many colossal mistakes her military and intelligence agencies had made over the years. Stricken with cancer, Anthea is on the verge of losing everything – her marriage, her home, and even her career. Anthea is battling to survive in a corrupt world where her government and judiciary often conspire, and together, hide unbelievable atrocities. Worse yet, she is being manipulated by her husband, Andrew, who has but one wish-to destroy her. But when Anthea discovers hundreds of young intelligence recruits have been tortured and murdered by the Australian military and intelligence agencies, she is devastated beyond belief. Suddenly the beautiful country she has always known has become a place where deception, lies, disappearances, collusion, secret treaties, illicit pacts, illegal billion dollar deals, and organized government crime not only live, but thrive. Now Anthea must decide whom she can trust, before it is too late. Based on a true story researched for over twenty years, Spook Justice examines just how far corruption will go.
A Sense of Place Publishing is proud to announce the forthcoming publication of Sorry Time by Anthony Maguire. The book is action packed from the get-go, beginning with murder and revenge in a compelling and merciless outback. The breakneck story is tailor made for film and this quality ensures a visually rich and entertaining reading experience.
You’re driving along a lonely outback road when suddenly a kangaroo leaps out in front of you. Your car is wrecked and then things rapidly go downhill from there as you find yourself under attack from a pack of wild dogs. Having survived that, you cross bloody paths with a pair of violent criminals – brothers Ali and Abdul Fazir – who’ve murdered two people on a remote Aboriginal community.
With the rise of ISIS and a growing terrorist threat in the West, unprecedented attention has focused on Islam, which despite being the world’s fastest growing religion, is also one of the most misunderstood. In his new book “Islamic Exceptionalism: How the Struggle over Islam is Reshaping the World” Senior Fellow with the Brookings Institute Shadi Hamid offers a novel and provocative argument on how Islam is, in fact, “exceptional” in how it relates to politics, with profound implications for how we understand the future of the Middle East. Hamid argues for a new understanding of how Islam and Islamism shape politics by examining different modes of reckoning with the problem of religion and state, including the terrifying—and alarmingly successful—example of ISIS. With unprecedented access to Islamist activists and leaders across the region, Hamid offers a panoramic and ambitious interpretation of the region’s descent into violence. Islamic Exceptionalism is a vital contribution to our understanding of Islam’s past and present, and its outsized role in modern politics. We don’t have to like it, but we have to understand it – because Islam, as a religion and as an idea, will continue to be a force that shapes not just the region, but the West as well in the decades to come.
Paul Beatty has become the first American writer to win the Man Booker prize, for a caustic satire on US racial politics that judges said put him up there with Mark Twain and Jonathan Swift. The 54-year-old Los Angeles-born writer won for The Sellout, a laugh-out-loud novel whose main character wants to assert his African American identity by, outrageously and transgressively, bringing back slavery and segregation. Beatty has admitted readers might find it a difficult book to digest but the historian Amanda Foreman, who chaired this year’s judging panel, said that was no bad thing. “Fiction should not be comfortable,” Foreman said. “The truth is rarely pretty and this is a book that nails the reader to the cross with cheerful abandon … that is why the novel works. While you’re being nailed, you’re being tickled. It is highwire act which he pulls off with tremendous verve and energy and confidence. He never once lets up or pulls his punches. This is somebody writing at the top of their game.”
It always does to ask the simplest of questions: how did we get here? Spooked: The Truth about Intelligence in Australia, shows how, In the wake of the 11th of September 2001 attacks against the Twin Towers, Australia became an extremely active combatant in the war on terror, particularly in the field of legislation. There was a remarkable burst of law making, with the country’s legislative performance eclipsing the relatively paltry performances of the UK, US and Canada, not only in the extent of these efforts in inhibiting the liberties and rights of every Australian, but in their sheer quantity. Dozens of pieces of legislation were passed. Turnbull would soon be following his predecessors, introducing yet more terror laws – a legal and political charade cloaking incompetence and failure with an air of busyness. As security specialist Dr Mark Rix wrote in Spooked, misuse and abuse of information, inscrutable but far-reaching information classification procedures and downright obfuscation had all become key weapons in the counter terrorism arsenal of a democratically elected government. He suggested that instead of a war on terror the legislation created a war on openness and accountability, such were the curbs on transparency and public disclosure.
Wings of the Kite-Hawk is a set of linked journeys into the Australian landscape: its past and its present, its people and its half-remembered secrets. In each chapter, Nicolas Rothwell takes a precursor and follows him. His guides include famous explorers from the past – Leichhardt, Sturt, Strehlow and Giles – as well as artists, anthropologists, rodeo riders and even Hell’s Angels. Vivid characters weave in and out of the story, inspiring journeys through different states of heart and mind: love, loss, friendship, fear. This book, re-issued with a new introduction by renowned travel writer Pico Iyer and a new foreword by the author, is unlike any other written about inland Australia. As much fable as memoir, it resonates with strangeness and bitter-sweetness, with all the hidden patterns and suddenly revealed depths of life.
Citing emails, minutes of meetings, recorded private conversations and memos, Merchants in the Temple paints a picture of a Vatican bureaucracy entrenched in a culture of mismanagement, waste and secrecy. Pope Francis has repeatedly and publicly warned the Roman Curia against engaging in “intrigue, gossip, cliques, favouritism and partiality” and acting more like a royal court than an institution of service. Last Christmas he delivered an infamous dressing down of his closest collaborators, citing the “15 ailments of the Curia” that included living “hypocritical” double lives and suffering from “spiritual Alzheimer’s.” The book details how at a designated time each year, Catholic parishes worldwide take up a special collection known as St. Peter’s Pence, funneling tens of millions of dollars to the Vatican with the aim of aiding the poor and needy. According to confidential files obtained by leading Italian journalist Gianluigi Nuzzi, rather than going to aid the poor, most of the cash is used to pay salaries and plug deficits at the Holy See. There is a “black hole” in the St. Peter’s Pence fund, and only a small portion of the cash makes it to those who need it most. Rather, the book documents lavish spending habits, mismanagement and a lack of accountability suggest the offerings are emblematic of larger problems within the ancient city-state in Italy.
For eight years, Bill wasn’t paid to speak in Nigeria for his anti-AIDs projects. Once Hillary became Secretary of State, he got $700,000 for a single talk. In 2000, Bill and Hillary Clinton owed millions of dollars in legal debt. Since then, they’ve earned over $130 million. In Clinton Cash: The Untold Story of How and Why Foreign Governments and Business helped Make Bill and Hillary Rich. Best selling author Peter Schweizer lifts the lid on where the money came from.
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.
The legal fiction of Terra nullius, that the Australia was an empty land before the arrival of Europeans, has always been one of the country’s greatest scandals. In fact the revered, sacred lands had been carefully tended for many thousands of years by a peoples far more sophisticated than European histories and contemporary difficulties have ever revealed. Dark Emus, by Bruce Pascoe, presents a thesis that challenges Australian history. It has won the 2016 NSW Premier’s Literary Awards for Book of the Year. Using early explorers’ journals and other evidence, Pascoe argued pre-colonial Aboriginal people were not nomadic hunter-gatherers, but had a democracy that ensured peace across a continent which was extensively farmed, skilfully managed and deeply loved. In accepting the award Pascoe said: “Dark Emu talks about the fact that Aboriginal people were the first people in the world to make bread, 15,000 years in advance of the Egyptians and this is something that we could be proud of. We’ve got the oldest art in the world, we’ve got the oldest tool manufacture in the world, these are important facts – we should all share in our pride that this country was a leader in human development.”
Save Oz Stories is a collection of responses from some of the country’s most highly regarded writers, including David Malouf and Geraldine Brooks, to an Australian Productivity Commission Report which recommends changes to copyright and importation rules which will effectively destroy the $2.2 billion Australian book industry. It adds to a long list of attacks by the Abbott/Turnbull conservative governments on journalism, whistle blowers, actors, artists and writers; essentially on all independent thought and creativity in a once proud, freedom loving country. The totalitarian instincts of the current Australian government defy belief. Esteemed Australian writer Richard Flanagan, who won the Mann Booker Prize Winner for his powerful book Narrow Road to the Deep North, writes: The Abbott and now Turnbull Government’s record drips with a contempt for writers and writing that leaves me in despair. They want to thieve our past work, and, by ending parallel importation restrictions and territorial copyright, destroy any future for Australian writers. You have to ask if, at heart, this is not profoundly political, because the disenfranchisement of the imagination is ever the disempowerment of the individual. There is, after all, both a bitter irony and a profound connection in a government that would condemn the wretched of the earth as illiterate, while hard at work to rob its own people of their culture of words. This is a government that despises books and views with hostility the civilisation they represent. This government, which again, and again, has brought Australia only global shame with its follies of cowardice and cruelty has no right now to destroy such a good in our nation as this: the voice of our experience, the words of our people, the tongue of our hope—our culture of writing. The Australian book industry has united to make digital copies available for free download and paperback copies available for free at Australian bookshops.
Deep in the unforgiving wilds of far western Mongolia, the last remaining Kazakh eagle hunters harness a powerful force of nature. The burkitshi, as they are known in Kazakh, are proud men whose faces reveal the harshness of the beautifully barren landscape they call home. They have an extraordinary bond with the golden eagle, which to them represents the wind, the open space, the isolation and the freedom found at the edge of the world. Australian photographer Palani Mohan has spent years documenting the noble hunters, but says only 60 remain, and fears the ancient tradition could disappear within 20 years.
Attention without feeling is only a report: “Life exists only because of a myriad of synchronicities that bring us to this particular place at this particular moment. In return for such a gift, the only sane response is to glitter in reply. Knowing the fractal geometry of an individual snowflake makes the winter landscape even more of a marvel. Knowing the mosses enriches our knowing of the world. Mosses and other small beings issue an invitation to dwell for a time right at the limits of ordinary perception. All it requires of us is attentiveness. Look in a certain way and a whole new world can be revealed. Learning to see mosses is more like listening than looking. A cursory glance will not do it. Starting to hear a faraway voice or catch a nuance in the quiet subtext of a conversation requires attentiveness, a filtering of all the noise, to catch the music. Mosses are not elevator music; they are the intertwined threads of a Beethoven quartet.” So writes one of the world’s leading botanists, Robin Wall Kimmerer, in her masterwork Gathering Moss: A Natural and Cultural History of Mosses — an extraordinary celebration of smallness and the grandeur of life, as humble yet surprisingly magical as its subject.
Moral Injury is a new field of study looking beyond the Post Traumatic Stress Disorder often suffered by military personnel. It occurs when an individual is asked to do something which breaches their conscience. All recent conflicts have the prerequisites or the potential to cause significant Moral Injury: A government’s decision to involve its forces in unjust wars where either the cause or the conduct is wrong or open to serious conscientious objection, the deployment of forces in pursuit of a mission that is ambiguous with a mandate that is vague; where the translation of political aspirations to military objectives is imprecise or impractical; and when the deployed forces are ill-prepared, poorly structured and inadequately equipped. And when the loss of moral ascendancy within the force reflected in indifference to the rule of law and manifested in an erosion of discipline.
This book is an electrifying investigation of White House lies about the assassination of Osama bin Laden . In 2011, a group of Navy SEALS stormed an enclosure in the Pakistani city of Abbotabad and killed Osama Bin Laden, the man the United States had been chasing since before the devastating attacks of 9/11. The news did much to boost Obama’s first term and played a major part in his re-election victory in the following year. Except the story of that night that was presented to the world was a lie, and the evidence of what actually went on has been covered up. At the same time, the true story of the US’s involvement in the Syrian civil wars has been conducted behind a diplomatic curtain. The White House has turned a blind eye to Turkey’s involvement in stirring up the conflict. Meanwhile, open brutality and ruthless subterfuge-such as the Sarin gas attack on Damascus-has been allowed to go on unpunished. As master investigative journalist Seymour Hersh shows in this explosive book, this was just one of many lies that the world’s leaders now tell us with seeming impunity. How far do these lies go? And what are their purpose?