Monday 13 Aug 2018 | 20:01 | SYDNEY
Monday 13 Aug 2018 | 20:01 | SYDNEY

My books of the year


Fergus Hanson


24 December 2008 08:41

I have just been reading Menzies' Afternoon Light which hasn't exactly been my book of the year, but was an interesting insight into how much politics has changed. You almost feel sorry for the current Prime Minister, who is derided as Kevin 747, when Menzies describes in great detail how at the outset of WWII he sets off for Europe in January for an overseas jaunt and doesn't return until May.

The impact of modern air travel and the media on how we see the world is also apparent when he writes with great amazement about a primitive plough he sees in Palestine and on a whim decides to try his hand resolving the Irish problem. Nor does he seem at any pains to empathise with the battlers — in one vignette he describes the 'unforgettable experience' of taking an evening stroll through the streets of a just-bombed city dressed in a dinner jacket — while the poor Brits pick through the rubble of their former homes.

I read Barack Obama's Dreams from my Father while I was in Indonesia, where it was easy to imagine the environment in which he grew up in. I preferred it to The Audacity of Hope, although there were still moments when you couldn't help feeling he was using it as a political tool despite some remarkably candid disclosures. At the end you are left with the impression that just by virtue of his upbringing this will be a very different US President — one who will likely feel a strong empathy with people in places like Africa and Indonesia and how US foreign policy affects them.

There are a few books I'm looking forward to reading over the break: Murakami's Norwegian Wood (thanks Malcolm) and Don Quixote which I've been wanting to read for a long time but never got around to.