Aaron Patrick, author of the brilliant book Downfall: How the Labor Party Ripped Itself Apart is not only an bestselling writer on politics, but also an avid reader.
He was kind enough to share his five must read titles for those with a keen interest in the world of politics. Enjoy!
by John Heilemann & Mark Halperin
For anyone who loves US politics, this is a very pleasurable read. The two authors, magazine reporters, turn one of the most interesting political contests ever into a detective-like story that is pacy, gripping and at times hilariously sad.
The implosion of John McCain’s campaign after he chooses Sarah Palin as his running mate is a highlight, as are the multiple revelations about how many of the biggest figures in US politics behave in private.
The writing style was a major inspiration for my book, Downfall.
by Paul Kelly
Paul Kelly’s epic description of the Hawke-Keating era remains one of the deepest and best-written accounts of a period in Australian history when politics and the economy went through major changes.
Bob Hawke and Paul Keating were two of the reasons I became active in politics and I am still fascinated by their period in office. The great strength of this book is that overlays the colour and detail of political with a theoretical framework which places events in historical context.
A tour de force of Australian political literature.
by Robert Caro
This book is an American classic and possibly one of the best books written about politics in English.
It charts the life of Robert Moses, the dominant figure in the development of New York City over fifty years. Moses was never elected, yet through an unceasing personal ambition and control of his own political machine he conceived and completed public works worth $27 billion.
The level of detail is this book and the disciplined writing is astounding.
by Mark Latham
Mark Latham is a polarising figure. But love him or hate him, you can’t deny he’s a skilled writer. His diaries cover his short period as Labor leader.
There has been no attempt to turn them into a consistent narrative, which can make the book a little frustrating if you don’t follow politics closely.
What is so valuable about this book is that it gives an unvarnished account of what really happens inside politics, a view most of us never see.
by Simon Benson
This is a book for aficionados of NSW politics. Daily Telegraph political reporter Simon Benson goes through the twists and turns of the turmoil that wracked the Labor Party when Premier Morris Iemma tried to sell the state’s electricity assets.
There has been criticism of this book that it is overly sympathetic to Iemma, who appears to have been a major source. That may be true, but I really liked the fast pace of the writing and Benson’s unsparing depiction of the amorality of intra-party political manoeuvring.
Benson knows his subject matter very well. It shows.
A former member of Young Labor, Aaron Patrick is now a senior journalist with the Australian Financial Review after working as an investigative reporter for The Wall Street Journal in London.
PS: Don’t forget to check out Aaron’s book Downfall. It’s a beauty.
by Aaron Patrick
In 2007 Australian Labor was one of the most successful centre left political parties in the world. Freshly triumphant from a federal election, it controlled states across Australia. Labor’s frontbench was full of young, smart and progressive activists. Their leader’s personal popularity rating was sky high. They had inherited a booming economy and the promise of a bright future.
Six years later, the party is in a death spiral, facing humiliating defeat in the forthcoming election. Observers across the country are asking: how did it come to this?
Commentators have pointed to the leadership struggle, to the lack of coherent policies, to an over-reliance on polls. All of that is true but Labor’s biggest problem is one that no-one wants to talk about – ethics. As Labor Party figures front up to corruption hearings, as revelations of deals for mates and misuse of funds come to light, as tales of faceless men exercising power for all the wrong reasons emerge, Labor’s brand is indisputably tarnished.
About the Contributor
Andrew Cattanach is a regular contributor to The Booktopia Blog. He has been shortlisted for The Age Short Story Prize and was named a finalist for the 2015 Young Bookseller of the Year Award. He enjoys reading, writing and sleeping, though finds it difficult to do them all at once.
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