Browsing No 251 - May, 2003 by Issue Date
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ItemA Social Antidote. "Islam in Australia" by Abdullah Saeed. [review](Australian Book Review, 2003-05) Humphrey, MichaelWith the growing politics of fear focused on Islam, and the pervasive 'Othering' of Muslims both nationally and internationally, this book on the everyday lives, beliefs and practices of Australian Muslims is an important social antidote. Abdullah Saeed, a leading Australian Muslim scholar of Islam, provides us with a readily accessible book that introduces the basicsabout the religion of Islam, and a short social and cultural history of Muslims in Australia. It explores Islamic religious organisations and leadership in Australia, the diversity of Muslim communities, common stereotypes and misunderstandings about Islam, as well as the difficulties and discrimination Muslims have experienced in Australia. This is a clear, concise, culturally sensitive and diplomatic little book for a general readership. ItemLetter From Beirut.(Australian Book Review, 2003-05) El-Zein, AbbasIt has been raining all week, persistent drizzle unlike the brief downpours that are more typical of Beirut. The city is slumbering. El-Zein am staying with his parents. His father goes out less often. His mother is snuggled under the blankets. She hopes the war won’t happen. The kettle is boiling like a purring cat. The house is quiet. Rain is the soporific of cities. ItemAdvances, Contents, Letters, Imprints and Contributors.(Australian Book Review, 2003-05)This item contains miscellaneous information from this issue. ItemThe Hollowing of the Middle Class. "The Experience of Middle Australia: The Dark Side of Economic Reform" by Michael Pusey. [review](Australian Book Review, 2003-05) Murphy, JohnIs the great white middle class endangered in Australia? If it is, does it matter greatly? Michael Pusey answers 'Yes' on both counts. He argues that we are seeing a 'hollowing out of the middle'. If he is right, this hollowing out has significant consequences. Both major political parties have spent decades courting the wannabe middle class - from Robert Menzies' 'forgotten people' to Gough Whitlam's outer suburbanites, and from Mark Latham's 'aspirational' voters to the recipients of John Howard’s tax welfare and handouts for private schools. A significant contraction of this constituency would create political shock waves. In addition, the decline of the middle class would throw an interesting light on our current prime minister who, more than anyone since Menzies, has represented middle-class values and aspirations while championing the radical economic restructuring that Pusey sees as leading to the decline of the middle class. ItemEdgar's Finesse. "Lost in the Foreground" by Stephen Edgar. [review](Australian Book Review, 2003-05) Beveridge, JudithStephen Edgar's fifth volume, "Lost in the Foreground", is a book of marvels, both technically and in the elegant, magisterial reach of its content. He is wonderfully inventive, and his complex rhyme schemes and forms are achieved with such precision and finesse that one can only conjecture as to how long each piece must have taken to become so lovingly and artfully realised. ItemUniversal Nomads. "The Cambridge Companion to Travel Writing" by Peter Hulme and Tim Youngs (eds) and "Venus in Transit: Australia's Women Travellers 1788-1930" by Douglas R.G. Sellick. [review](Australian Book Review, 2003-05) Pesman, RosIn our Postmodern age, when everything travels and travel is a metaphor for everything, travel and travel writing have become the subject of intense scholarly interest and debate. Travel, once largely the domain of geographers, and travel writing, previously relegated to the status of a sub-literary genre, now engage attention from literary studies, history, anthropology, ethnography and, most fruitfully, from gender and post-colonial studies. Conferences and publications abound. ItemThe Nietzschean Slide. "Sympathy: A Philosophical Analysis" by Craig Taylor. [review](Australian Book Review, 2003-05) Evans, EamonIn 1958 Oxford philosopher Elizabeth Anscombe, whose demolition of C.S. Lewis in a Union debate a few years earlier was said to have driven that colleague to fiction, turned her sights on a bigger target: modern moral philosophy. The then-dominant notions of obligation and duty 'ought to be jettisoned', she declared, as they make no sense in the absence of a lawgiver, or at least of some external source of value, and these days their presence is no longer assumed. But 'If there is no God,' said Dostoyevsky's Grand Inquisitor, 'then anything is permitted.' If reason, religion and utility can't field our moral questions, what tells us to not lie and steal? ItemMedia Mass-ness. Review of "Media and Society in the Twentieth Century: A Historical Introduction" by Lyn Gorman and David McLean. [review](Australian Book Review, 2003-05) Flew, TerryLyn Gorman and David McLean's book is a valuable contribution, and one that Flew hopes will be widely adopted in media and communications courses. While it has the narrative account common to the mass communication histories - with chapters focused on a medium such as print or film, or the emergence of a new media industry such as advertising - the authors present it in a manner that is very much attuned to the social and cultural contexts in which new media forms arose. "Media and Society in the Twentieth Century" was writtenas a text to accompany courses in media history at Charles Sturt University. As such, it has the best attributes of a book targeted at the undergraduate student readership. Its coverage of developments is comprehensive, its treatment is concise, it doesn't get bogged down in side issues, and the authors are always reminding the reader how particular issues connect up to a bigger picture. It also has what Flew considers to be the best attribute of a history book: its availability for repeated referencing. ItemMaking It Happen. "Sand" by Connie Barber and "A Momentary Stay" by William C. Clarke. [review](Australian Book Review, 2003-05) Arnott, GeorgieWilliam C. Clarke cuts an interesting figure. An anthropologist who has concentrated on Pacific populations, Clarke combined this discipline with an interest in poetry in his 2000 lecture 'Pacific Voices, Pacific Views: Poets as Commentators on the Contemporary Pacific'. Clarke used his poetry as a vehicle for considering issues such as land tenure, corruption and tourism. It is angry, astute poetry; this is not the tranquil Hawaii and Fiji of tourist literature. Such poetry is undoubtedly moving, despite Clarke's echo of W.H. Auden's assertion that 'poetry makes nothing happen'. "Sand" is Connie Barber’s third collection. Like Clarke, Barber uses the natural world as the subject of her poetry when considering weighty issues, such as ageing and death. The bulk of this volume, however, is taken up with suburban phenomena. Barber's poetry evokes a world where the domestic space is a serene refuge from the ugliness beyond one's door. ItemCourtroom Knuckledusters. "Lee's Law: How Singapore Crushes Dissent" by Chris Lydgate and "The Mahathir Legacy: A Nation Divided, A Region At Risk" by Ian Stewart. [review](Australian Book Review, 2003-05) Mares, PeterSingapore and Malaysia have a lot in common beyond a shared border and a shared colonial heritage. Both countries have been dominated for decades by one strong leader - Lee Kuan Yew in Singapore, Dr Mahathir Mohamad in Malaysia. Both have a weak Opposition and a muzzled media. Both have an internal security act inherited from the British, and which is used to detain people without trial. In both countries, the common law system has been bent into ugly new shapes to silence dissent. Each of these books traces the fate of a man who dared to challenge the leader but failed, crushed by an adversary with superior tactics, greater political strength and, above all, more sway in the courts. ItemDegrees in Inequality. "Undemocratic Schooling: Equity and Quality in Mass Secondary Education in Australia" by Richard Teese and John Polesel. [review](Australian Book Review, 2003-05) Snyder, IlanaThis book has a number of admirable qualities. In times when open subscription to a social justice agenda runs the risk of ridicule, it is a brave book. It does not shy away from identifying the universities - specifically, the sandstones - as integral to any explanation of why Australian secondary education is inequitable. And both authors work in one: the University of Melbourne. The book also builds a compelling case for curriculum and structural reform. Through the careful analysis of issues such as retention and dropout rates, the relation between poverty and achievement, and between gender and achievement, it argues potently that our education system is disturbingly riven by persistent inequalities of opportunity. ItemGlobal Babble. Review of "Implicating Empire: Globalization and Resistance in the 21st Century World Order" by Stanley Aronowitz and Heather Gautney (eds).(Australian Book Review, 2003-05) Beilharz, PeterThese days, every respectable academic needs to have a book about globalisation, on pain of death. In the 1990s the compulsory theme was citizenship; this decade, globalisation. Empire or imperialism remains the Marxist spin on globalisation. Some of the geopolitical analysis in "Implicating Empire" is astute, not least when it comes to detecting the limits of the earlier modern claims about the sacred sovereignty of nation states. This is an uneven collection: no surprises there. Its subject matter can be as hilarious as it is earnest. In one place, for example, one writer seriously quotes herself at length as an authority, which is taking even North American academic self-referentiality a little too far. The subject matter otherwise remains as pressing as it is ubiquitous. ItemSurviving a Father. "Belonging: A Memoir" by Renée Goossens. [review](Australian Book Review, 2003-05) Hooton, JoyRenée Goossens, born in 1940, is the youngest daughter of the composer and conductor Sir Eugene Goossens. Married three times, he had three daughters with Dorothy Millar, and two more with his second wife, and Renée's mother, Janet Lewis. Fortunately, "Belonging" features some generous individuals outside the family, who provided support during Renée’s subsequent devastating misfortunes. Eventually, she won through to independence and returned to Sydney. Her memoir will fascinate readers interested in Australia’s musical history, as well as general readers of life-writing ItemA Sorry Challenge. "Taking Responsibility for the Past: Reparation and Historical Justice" by Janna Thompson. [review](Australian Book Review, 2003-05) Dunn, KristieThis book gives us new ways of thinking about questions regarding an apology for historical wrongs sommitted against Indigenous Australians. In a tight and coherent argument, philosopher Janna Thompson develops a moral (as opposed to a legal) theory of reparative justice that helps us understand why we might have obligations to remedy the wrongs of our predecessors. Thompson draws on a number of examples, including white Australia’s obligations towards members of the Stolen Generations, indigenous claims to land in Australia and elsewhere, and claims for compensation for victims of slavery and the Holocaust. Her argument, in a nutshell, is that we owe it to each other to remedy historical injustices because only then can we expect that our own experience of injustice will be remedied by future generations. ItemNot Helping the Cause. "The Snow Queen" by Mardi McConnochie. [review](Australian Book Review, 2003-05) Armstrong, JudithWhen Armstrong was about ten, she used to devour the books of an English children's author named Noel Streatfield. The most famous was called "Ballet Shoes", which took young antipodeans onto the stage and into the wings of another world, the London theatre scene. Galina Koslova, a Russian-born émigrée to South Australia and the heroine of "The Snow Queen", gives "Ballet Shoes" to a step-granddaughter, correctly designating it a classic. Armstrong wonders whether Mardi McConnochie’s novel was designed to fill the gap left on adult bookshelves by long-abandoned copies of "Ballet Shoes", even if our reading requirements have matured. ItemThe Long Trek. "Burke's Soldier" by Alan Attwood. [review](Australian Book Review, 2003-05) McGirr, MichaelAlan Attwood's fictional account of the Victorian Exploration Expedition, long known as the Burke and Wills Expedition, is told through the eyes of a man who has often been overlooked. John King - a soldier, not a gentleman - was the sole survivor of the mission.There is an inventive twist in "Burke's Soldier". It is a pity that it takes so long to get to it. The last quarter of the book meanders past every person and event of the 1860s. Marcus Clarke, Captain Moonlite, the first Test cricket team, the first Melbourne Cup and the US Civil War all turn up to dissipate the focus of the novel in its closing stages. Attwood takes the long way home, but at least, unlike Burke and Wills, he makes it. The real survivor is the one who controls the story.