The remarkable story of the life and work of Australia’s most famous modern judge.
This biography charts Michael Kirby’s extraordinary public life from his first forays as a student politician in the early 1960s, to his appointments as foundation chairman of the Australian Law Reform Commission in 1975, President of the NSW Court of Appeal in 1984, and Justice of the High Court of Australia (1996-2009).
Internationally, Kirby has been a leader in law reform and human rights with the OECD, UNESCO, UN Human Rights Commission and the WHO Global Program on AIDS. He is a former world president of the International Commission of Jurists, and in 1993-1996 was the first Australian to serve as a Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Human Rights.
A J Brown reveals Kirby’s difficult and often challenging personal path as judge, public intellectual and gay man. He shows the sharp contrast between Kirby’s 30-year love affair with controversial public issues and the reality of a man whose underlying message is deeply traditionalist – that people should have faith in the status quo of political institutions, even the monarchy.
He shows also how Kirby’s most constant companion – publicity – has been a double-edged sword. Behind his active courtship of an unprecedented judicial profile lay a passion for principles and the social relevance of the law, but it drove him into fierce conflict with the many judges and politicians who questioned whether such celebrity was compatible with judicial life.
The slow coming together of his personal, professional and public lives culminates in sharp moments of truth – for Kirby, for powerful institutions, and for a society learning to cope with the challenges of change.
The research has included:
I think it's the best Australian judicial biography I've ever read. Many judicial biographies in this country tell us a great deal about the lives of their subjects and almost nothing about what it is that makes the subjects interesting, their work as judges. This approach would have been particularly inappropriate for Michael Kirby's biography. This biographer has done a wonderful job of showing how Michael Kirby's life was reflected, appropriately, in his judgments. It repeatedly engages with his judicial method, showing its changes over time. This is a very scholarly book, a milestone in Australian legal writing.Federation Press is contributing mightily to Australian judicial biography: the great Bennett series, and now this. Congratulations on a great publication. I hope it is a huge commercial success. - Bruce Kercher, Emeritus Professor of Law, Macquarie University
Number Of Pages: 528
Published: 5th April 2011
Dimensions (cm): 23.4 x 15.6 x 4.400
Weight (kg): 0.866