Paul Keating attacks Hawke: The Prime Minister by Blanche d’Alpuget

by |July 15, 2010

You can’t buy advertising like this! You write a book about one former PM and another former PM comes out and denounces it!

Blanche d’Alpuget must be doing a bit of a jig at the moment. Sure, the acid remarks of everyone’s favourite sledger, Paul Keating, must hurt a little bit but by speaking out in a letter to The Australian on the release of the book Keating has made sure that sales go through the roof! Lick your wounds Blanche and keep jigging ’cause that’s promotion few writers get!

Why has Keating spoken out? Could be a reaction to this bit…

From The Australian:

Blanche on Keating… Ouch! “With little formal education, his intellect led him to hobbies, one after another, all his life: car engines; budgerigars; the life of Winston Churchill; rock music and, as his taste matured, classical music and its visible sister, architecture.”

Keating found this condescending. “The book is even stooping so low as to say that, because I had no university education, I was incapable of absorbing complex documents, and that I did not even read them,” Mr Keating told The Australian.

“The preposterousness of it is faint-making. How would anyone at the top of public life deal with 30-plus cabinet submissions a week plus hundreds of other issues, for one and a half decades, without a speedy comprehension of matters? This shows the depth to which Blanche d’Alpuget stoops in her misplaced attempts to uplift Bob.”

And now Bill Hayden has joined in – (again from The Australian)

“I’ve been a long-term fan of Paul’s and continue to be, but I also like Hawke, I respect Hawke,” Mr Hayden informed The Australian.

“I regret the tone the discussion’s taking because it is starting to canvass a brawl over what happened 25 years ago, and really its getting a bit like old men croaking like cane toads.”

Accompanying all of this are the continual airings of Channel Ten’s promo for the upcoming telemovie – Hawke – in which Paul Keating and Bob Hawke are depicted in a heated exchange about the leadership.

Timing, timing, timing – Further – Was Rudd’s ousting just part of a larger plan to promote a biography of Robert J Hawke? Co-incidence? Can we believe all of this is an accident? What’s Gillard’s take?

Yes, I’m being silly… Accident or no, my appetite is whetted and I am ready to pick up Blanche’s book on Bob and read it from cover to cover…

Hawke: The Prime Minister

Since its first publication in 1982, Blanche d’Alpuget’s Robert J Hawke: A Biography has remained the benchmark by which other political biographies are measured.

Hawke: The Prime Minister begins as Bob Hawke wrestles the Labor leadership from Bill Hayden and a few weeks later wins the 1983 federal election, thus achieving his life’s goal of becoming Prime Minister of Australia.

With a novelist’s eye, a political scientist’s acumen and based on exhaustive research and interviews, d’Alpuget brings to life ministers, political advisers and previously invisible but powerful mandarins, and their byzantine struggles. Here are leaders with vision and ideals, but prey to ego, ambition and human frailties-yet all committed to reforming a country and an economy that, at the time Hawke took over, was heading towards becoming ‘the poor white trash of Asia’.

Throughout the struggles inside his government, with the opposition and with an electorate that yearned for reform but hated its pain, Hawke maintained his vision for the country. With four consecutive terms in office he changed Australia irrevocably.

D’Alpuget’s analysis of how power is deployed, and how elections are won, is nothing less than epic, rich with intrigue and drama. In Hawke: The Prime Minister, she has produced a portrait of a remarkable political leader, determined to steer his country through the international forces pounding down on its economy and the ever-present but imperceptible dangers of the Cold War. It explores the role he played in the precarious game of international politics in the last days the Cold War, and at the awakening of the sleeping giant, China. Unknown until now, the book also reveals Hawke’s involvement in international reconciliation, recovery and reconstruction – the ‘Three Rs’ he set out to deliver to Australia in 1983.

Hawke: The Prime Minister is a meticulous portrait of a wily, brilliant politician, uncompromisingly ambitious and at the height of his political powers.

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About the Contributor

While still in his twenties, John Purcell opened a second-hand bookshop in Mosman, Sydney, in which he sat for ten years reading, ranting and writing. Since then he has written, under a pseudonym, a series of very successful novels, interviewed hundreds of writers about their work, appeared at writers’ festivals, on TV (most bizarrely in comedian Luke McGregor’s documentary Luke Warm Sex) and has been featured in prominent newspapers and magazines. ​Now, as the Director of Books at, Australia’s largest online bookseller, he supports Australian writing in all its forms. He lives in Sydney with his wife, two children, three dogs, five cats, unnumbered gold fish and his overlarge book collection. His novel, The Girl on the Page, will be published by HarperCollins Australia in October, 2018.

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  • July 15, 2010 at 12:11 pm

    I saw the interview with Bob Hawke and Blanche on the ABC a couple of nights back spruiking their book. Wish I could get publicity like that for my novels. Oh well, perhaps i need to get elected to parliament first.
    I don’t know why Paul Keating has got his knickers in a knot because they didn’t say anything nasty about him.


  • Marshall Willan

    July 15, 2010 at 2:28 pm

    As much as I supported him and respect him I find it rather sad that Bob Hawke’s vanity still needs to be groping for the limelight.He has had his time at centrestage and now twenty five years later he still yearns for the attention.
    Rest assured Bob you have always been recognised as a national living treasure.Bask in the respect held for you but keep it at a distance.

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