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12 of the Best Political Biographies and Commentaries

From fiction inspired by political events; to commentary on the current political landscape; to historical political events that went on to shape the country; to the holy grail of many a politician, the political autobiography, there are so many compelling political books out there, no matter what your political persuasion. And if it’s all just a bit much, you can always opt for humour (see our final choice.)

Here are some of the best political books, both new and old, around today.

xstop-at-nothingIn Stop At Nothing, the formidable Annabel Crabb has a look at Malcolm Turnbull with characteristic wit and perceptiveness. This covers his Faction Manuniversity days (did you know he co-authored a musical?) all the way up to being Prime Minster in an election year.

On the other side of our two main parties, we have Faction Man: Bill Shorten’s Pursuit of Power. Here David Marr traces Bill Shorten’s journey to leader of the Labor party, and his relentless pursuit of his childhood goal of becoming Prime Minister of Australia.

The Quarterly Essay is Australia’s leading journal of politics, culture and debate and the books they release are insightful, thought provoking and compulsive reading. All of them are worth reading, and Political Amnesia is particularly timely.

If you’d rather look at events in the recent past, in The Road to Ruin, prominent political commentator, author, and columnist for The Australian Niki Savva reveals the ruinous behaviour of former prime minister Tony Abbott and his chief of staff, Peta Credlin.

Many an ex Prime Minster has gone on to write a book, and John Howard’s Lazarus Rising was the biggest selling political memoir of them all. Covers his life, political career, years as Prime Minister and his thoughts on the politicians that came after him.

keatingThere have been quite a few books on former Prime Minster Paul Keating, but perhaps the best is Kerry O’Brien’s Keating. A collaboration between one of Australia’s most intriguing figures and one the country’s most influential political interviewers. Captivating.

It’s Our Country is a collection of short essays by leading and emerging Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders thinkers and leaders. It conveys to Australians why indigenous people should have a direct say in the decisions that affect their lives.

Julia Gillard, Australia’s 27th prime minister, and our first female leader. My Story gives us a candid self portrait of a political leader seeking to realise her ideals. This my-storyis the story of her three years and three days as leader of the country, and the journey she took to get there.

Bob Brown, former parliamentary leader and founder of The Greens party, reflects on a life in action in Optimism. He looks at the simple things, the moments that are meaningful and the big questions that concern him. A book by a man with a joy for life.

Going back to the 1970s, The Dismissal is a ground breaking new history of Australia’s greatest political crisis – the dismissal of Gough Whitlam. This book includes new information, fresh interviews and a dramatic reinterpretation of events.

A bit of an odd one to include on this list of Australian titles, but still one of the most powerful books I’ve ever read. As Barack Obama ends his tenure as President of the United States, it’s good to look back – Dreams From My Father (written when he was just 33) is his desire to understand his history and how that informed his life. Absolutely recommended.

And if all the above is a bit too serious, The Chaser team are always there to provide a bit of humour in politics the Chaser Quaterly. In their words, this is a journal of “low-brow satire and high-brow toilet humour. Perfect for reading when the battery on your smartphone goes flat”.


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