Don Watson: Recollections of a Bleeding Heart, A Portrait of Paul Keating

Don Watson’s biography Recollections of a Bleeding Heart is the first biography that I have read since reading David Marr’s Patrick White: A Life in 1995 (about the same time that society collapsed). And what a magnificent segue that it is into the core of things that matter. And even if you aren’t a Labor person or aren’t interested in the laws and institutions that govern you (as if intellectual ‘sectarianism’ ever meant freedom of thought) then it is still worth understanding how people with national political responsibilities have thought. So many younger Australians have been margianalised within a post-industrial waste-land-country named ‘Utopia’; a place that you may migrate to when you have all but given up.

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History is for the Living

David Day

I am on my second Labor Biography at the moment being David Day’s biography of John Curtin. It is hard for my generation to imagine any Australian leader coming out of the Socialist left and also coming from Victoria. I wonder what John Curtin would have thought about globalisation and the Internet? The book is an exhaustive study by a true historian of the old left but lacks the buoyancy of Don Watson’s biography of Keating.

I wonder if there is any innovation by historians in Australia or if the methodological rigidity of Keith Windshuttle has reduced the profession to little more than an artless bureaucratic door stop.