Sunday, January 9, 2011

Lazarus Rising - Book Review

Jack Dikian

Jan 2011

This book spans John Howard’s life from his childhood in Sydney through to his government’s defeat – It is a fascinating story of achievement by the second longest serving prime minister. He describes the early influences on his life and how his political ambitions grew on graduation from The University of Sydney. Howard reveals much about himself, tracing his personal and political journey, from childhood in the post-World War II era through to the present day, painting a fascinating picture of a changing Australia.

I read this book over the 2010-2011 Christmas holidays, and, at around the time when it was difficult not to read Wikileaks’ account of events, said roles, and agreements, etc. So in the light of that, I caught myself wondering if the accounts of certain issues where in step.

Lazarus Rising is history seen through the eyes of an insider; and such carries some inherent bias that the reader will become conscious of. For example, Howard describes the media as “well balanced“ when it supported his or the Liberal view, whereas it was biased when it was supportive of the ALP.

And whilst he helped reshape Australia and its place in the world as a part of his reform agenda, including the privatization of Telstra, dismantled excessive union power and compulsory trade union membership, etc,. the book skims over many contentious issues surrounding major political events.

This book gives a detailed account of political and social events that may possibly be fading in our memory - the Pauline Hanson and One Nation phenomenon, the introduction of the GST, the confrontation with the Waterside Workers Federation, leadership muddle involving Peter Costello, and the list goes on…

There are the insights into political leadership and character, the stuff that drives history. A notable example was the bid for the prime ministership by Joh Bjelke-Petersen, which completely undermined any chance of Howard’s success in the 1987 Federal election. The book deals with Howard’s resilience and capacity to swallow his pride and control his anger and frustrations drawing strength and support of a strong wife and loving family.

He tells us how he responded on issues vital to Australia, such as gun control, the aftermath of September 11th, Iraq and the rising tide of asylum-seekers. For me, one of the most telling and fascinating aspects of this book is Howard’s account of how people’s roles and personalities interact and sometimes clash and how this impacts on the formulation of government policy.

John Howard Biography

ISBN: 9780732289959; ISBN10: 0732289955; Imprint: Harper

On Sale: 1/11/2010;

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