Why Quinn’s Post matters

I wonder if it says more about me than many that I can better describe the key landmarks on the battlefields of Gettsyburg and Antietam than I can Gallipoli. It was with that realisation and the then soon-to-be-aired Gallipoli on Channel 9 that I read Prof Peter Stanley's excellent book - Quinn’s Post, Anzac, Gallipoli. And it worked. I finally get the geography and the criticality of Quinn's Post and the people and decisions that framed it. Stanley's book is a must-read for anyone inte...
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Reviewed – MacArthur’s War; Invasion: Alaska; and Neue Europa

Counterfactual history is a genre based on the question ‘what if?’. It's one of my favourite types of fiction, combining creativity based on historical events. Some prominent authors include Australian John Birmingham, with his series Axis of Time, and American Harry Turtledove (though I’ve passed his series on aliens invading the world). Invariably, the parallel universe in a counterfactual novel is based on changing one of the quirks of a major historical event and then broadly continuing on...
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Reviewed – High Wire Act: Ted Rogers, by Caroline Van Hasselt

Where to start in reviewing this 520-page tome? WHAT a book. This book is not just a biography on Canadian media / technology owner and magnate, Ted Rogers, although that's what I bought it for. It is much, much more than a biography, providing detailed insights into the personality and drive of Rogers, whose name adorns cable, sports, wireless and many other businesses in Canada. As well as the personal history of Rogers, the book goes into at times excruciating detail into junk bonds, merg...
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Reviewed – Beyond Band of Brothers (Major Richard D Winters)

This review coincides with the first anniversary of the passing of Major Richard Winters. Major Winters died in January 2011, aged 92. I was given this book for Christmas and finished it on New Year's Day. Beyond Band of Brothers was first published in the US in 2006, only a few years after the TV miniseries aired. It is a poignant, sad, reflective, and well-written book that at 290 pages is not a long read. It is a superb, moving book. Richard Winters was a ordinary man by his own standards,...
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Reviewed: In the Firing Line. Diary of a Season (Ed Cowan).

There are cricket books, and then there are cricket books. Such are the mysteries of life, that sometimes you read a cricket book and put it down, never to really remember it. Others, the really good ones, make you think. I could happily wax lyrical about this book, but then I'd rather you go and buy it, and sit, and read, and go away, as I have done, and think about the issues that Ed Cowan raises it in. In short, Cowan's book is a fine long-form broadsheet cricket essay over a summer. I lov...
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Reviewed: Down to the Sea

As someone who reads widely across history, and has an interest in military history, I approached this book not knowing much about the subject. By the end of the book, I felt incredibly sad, I felt angry, and I felt relieved knowing that it would very unlikely anyone I knew would have to go through what the sailors described in this book went through. A non-fiction work by Bruce Henderson, Down to the Sea describes the men who made up the crews of three US Navy ships in World War 2, and their ...
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Reviewed: Back to the Studio

Back to the Studio is a series of interview-based chapters on Australian radio and TV sporting commentators, by Peter Meares. Not a hard read, it's good for getting for a trip where you can meander in and out, or just have it lying round the house, to have there for a chapter here, a chapter there. Meares makes it clear at the outset he's not interested in horse or car racing and so his interviewees come from the world of cricket, rugby, AFL, league, football (soccer) and general commentators,...
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Reviewed – The Young Hornblower

Sometimes TV series made from the stories of books don't work. Sometimes a book which you think will be a rip-roaring yarn will surprise you. Sometimes you get to the end of a book and go 'that goodness that is over'. Normally, I'm a fair, if not enthusiastic reviewer - that's because I actually like books I read. Sadly, this book did nothing for me, and in the end, I went to Wikipedia and read the entry to see where our jolly hero, Horatio Hornblower, ends up. The TV series was much better...
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Reviewed – Paul Henry, What Was I Thinking

To be honest, I bought this book on Kindle out of curiosity to learn, if I could, what the fuss was about with Paul Henry – the enfant terrible of New Zealand media. I then went and firstly read the final few chapters which deal with his time on TVNZ and the issues that led to him leaving, and his subsequent decision to return to radio. This book, like its author, is, at times, intense – maniacally interesting, at times self reflective, and often brutally honest. The thing is, despite m...
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Reviewed – Strong Armed Men

Robert Leckie’s tome on the United States Marines’ battles in the Pacific is intense as it is detailed – nearly 600 pages – and covered in a way that I found at times shocking, but also captivating. This book looks at the battles the Marines fought, often in great detail, from their landings on Guadalcanal all the way through the central Pacific, and finally to Okinawa. Though Leckie fought in the Marines (his book With the Old Breed I read after having watched the miniseries Pacific), this is...
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