Top Picks - Non-Fiction

A Bigger Picture

$55.00

Malcolm Turnbull, Australia’s 29th prime minister, tells the remarkable story of his life in this lively political page-turner.

When Malcolm Turnbull took over the nation’s top job there was a sense of excitement in Australia. Sky-high opinion polls followed as the political outsider with a successful business, legal and media career took charge. The infighting that had dogged politics for the best part of a decade looked to be over. But a right-wing insurgency brutally cut down Turnbull’s time in office after three years, leaving many Australians asking, ‘Why?’

Exceptionally candid and compelling, A Bigger Picture is the definitive narrative of Malcolm Turnbull’s prime ministership. He describes how he legalised same-sex marriage, established Snowy Hydro 2.0, stood up to Donald Trump, and many more achievements – remarkable in their pace and significance, and delivered in the teeth of so much opposition. But it’s far more than just politics. Turnbull’s life has been filled with colourful characters and controversies, success and failure. From his early years in Sydney, growing up with a single father, to defending ‘Spycatcher’ Peter Wright against the UK government; the years representing Kerry Packer, leading the Republican Movement and making millions in business; and finally toppling Tony Abbott to become prime minister of Australia. For the first time he tells it all – in his own words.

With revelatory insights on the workings of Canberra and the contentious events of Turnbull’s life, A Bigger Picture explores the strengths and vulnerabilities of one of Australia’s best-known and most dynamic business and political leaders. Lyrically written in highly readable and entertaining prose, this is a genuine page-turner that’s not just for political junkies.

A Promised Land

$65.00

A riveting, deeply personal account of history in the making—from the president who inspired us to believe in the power of democracy

In the stirring, highly anticipated first volume of his presidential memoirs, Barack Obama tells the story of his improbable odyssey from young man searching for his identity to leader of the free world, describing in strikingly personal detail both his political education and the landmark moments of the first term of his historic presidency-a time of dramatic transformation and turmoil.

Obama takes readers on a compelling journey from his earliest political aspirations to the pivotal Iowa caucus victory that demonstrated the power of grassroots activism to the watershed night of November 4, 2008, when he was elected 44th president of the United States, becoming the first African American to hold the nation’s highest office.

Reflecting on the presidency, he offers a unique and thoughtful exploration of both the awesome reach and the limits of presidential power, as well as singular insights into the dynamics of U.S. partisan politics and international diplomacy. Obama brings readers inside the Oval Office and the White House Situation Room, and to Moscow, Cairo, Beijing, and points beyond. We are privy to his thoughts as he assembles his cabinet, wrestles with a global financial crisis, takes the measure of Vladimir Putin, overcomes seemingly insurmountable odds to secure passage of the Affordable Care Act, clashes with generals about U.S. strategy in Afghanistan, tackles Wall Street reform, responds to the devastating Deepwater Horizon blowout, and authorizes Operation Neptune’s Spear, which leads to the death of Osama bin Laden.

A Promised Land is extraordinarily intimate and introspective-the story of one man’s bet with history, the faith of a community organizer tested on the world stage. Obama is candid about the balancing act of running for office as a Black American, bearing the expectations of a generation buoyed by messages of “hope and change,” and meeting the moral challenges of high-stakes decision-making. He is frank about the forces that opposed him at home and abroad, open about how living in the White House affected his wife and daughters, and unafraid to reveal self-doubt and disappointment. Yet he never wavers from his belief that inside the great, ongoing American experiment, progress is always possible.

This beautifully written and powerful book captures Barack Obama’s conviction that democracy is not a gift from on high but something founded on empathy and common understanding and built together, day by day.

A Swim in a Pond in the Rain

$34.99

For the last twenty years, George Saunders has been teaching a class on the Russian short story to his MFA students at Syracuse University. In A Swim in a Pond in the Rain, he shares a version of that class with us, offering some of what he and his students have discovered together over the years. Paired with iconic short stories by Chekhov, Turgenev, Tolstoy, and Gogol, the seven essays in this book are intended for anyone interested in how fiction works and why it’s more relevant than ever in these turbulent times.

In his introduction, Saunders writes, “We’re going to enter seven fastidiously constructed scale models of the world, made for a specific purpose that our time maybe doesn’t fully endorse but that these writers accepted implicitly as the aim of art—namely, to ask the big questions, questions like, How are we supposed to be living down here? What were we put here to accomplish? What should we value? What is truth, anyway, and how might we recognize it?” He approaches the stories technically yet accessibly, and through them explains how narrative functions; why we stay immersed in a story and why we resist it; and the bedrock virtues a writer must foster. The process of writing, Saunders reminds us, is a technical craft, but also a way of training oneself to see the world with new openness and curiosity.

A Swim in a Pond in the Rain is a deep exploration not just of how great writing works but of how the mind itself works while reading, and of how the reading and writing of stories make genuine connection possible.

After The Australian Ugliness

$90.00

Robin Boyd’s The Australian Ugliness was published in 1960 and quickly took its place as a key work of architectural and cultural critique in the nation’s canon. This new book responds to Boyd’s most well-known text with new critical and creative writing by authors from a range of disciplines. Through different styles and approaches, each author makes Boyd’s work live in the contemporary moment, exploring enduring questions about the elusive, sometimes lucky and sometimes ugly character of Australia today.

Richly illustrated with new photography by David Wadelton and drawings by Oslo Davis, After The Australian Ugliness is a provocative reflection on how Australia sees itself today, and how others see it.

Agent Sonya: Lover, Mother, Soldier, Spy

$35.00

The incredible story behind the greatest female spy in history from one of Britain’s most acclaimed historians

In a quiet English village in 1942, an elegant housewife emerged from her cottage to go on her usual bike ride. A devoted wife and mother-of-three, the woman known to her neighbours as Mrs Burton seemed to epitomise rural British domesticity.

However, rather than pedalling towards the shops with her ration book, she was racing through the Oxfordshire countryside to gather scientific intelligence from one of the country’s most brilliant nuclear physicists. Secrets that she would transmit to Soviet intelligence headquarters via the radio transmitter she was hiding in her outdoor privy.

Far from a British housewife, ‘Mrs Burton’ – born Ursula Kuczynski, and codenamed ‘Sonya’ – was a German Jew, a dedicated communist, a colonel in Russia’s Red Army, and a highly-trained spy. From planning an assassination attempt on Hitler in Switzerland, to spying on the Japanese in Manchuria, and helping the Soviet Union build the atom bomb, Sonya conducted some of the most dangerous espionage operations of the twentieth century. Her story has never been told – until now.

Agent Sonya is the exhilarating account of one woman’s life; a life that encompasses the rise and fall of communism itself, and altered the course of history.

An Australian Garden

$70.00

The far south coast of New South Wales is a magical place, with remote coastlines, sheltered lagoons and pristine hinterland meeting mountain ranges. It was also once an area partly depleted by logging and long-term agricultural use. Some forty years ago, renowned architect Philip Cox and a group of like-minded friends purchased 80 hectares as a private retreat and a conservation exercise. Applying his own aesthetic principles of vista, light, texture, colour and mass, Philip worked with nature to reveal and enhance the bushland in an enticing way. He replanted trees in denuded areas, cleared scrubby undergrowth in others and added lakes and ponds. Carefully, he curated extensive walks through bush and gullies, along the coast and river, offering wondrous experiences. These walks are punctuated with drama and romance as you enter various garden rooms and encounter sculptures, waterlily-adorned lakes, ponds and art-filled pavilions. As the world becomes more global, maintaining indigenous Australian landscapes and gardens becomes important. This book captures a unique vision of a wild landscape and gives new meaning to the concept of creating an Australian garden.

Another Now

$29.99

What would a fair and equal society actually look like? The world-renowned economist and bestselling author Yanis Varoufakis presents his radical and subversive answer.

Imagine it is 2025. Years earlier, in the wake of the financial crisis of 2008, a global hi-tech uprising has birthed a post-capitalist world in which work, money, land, digital networks and politics have been truly democratised.

In a thought-experiment of startling originality, world-famous economist Yanis Varoufakis offers a glimpse of this alternative reality. Through the eyes of three characters – a libertarian ex-banker, a Marxist-feminist and a maverick technologist – we see the genesis of a world without commercial banks or stock markets, where companies are owned equally by all staff, basic income is guaranteed, global imbalances and climate change cancel each other out, and housing is socialised.

Is a liberal socialism feasible? Can prosperity grow without costing the Earth? Are we able to build the good society, despite our flaws?

As radical in its form as in its vision, Another Now blends Platonic dialogue with speculative fiction to show that there is an alternative to capitalism, while also confronting us with the greatest question: how far are we willing to go to bring it about?

Australia 2020

$32.99

From the heart of the Western Queensland Channel Country, Australia’s oldest and favourite newspaper details our country’s very rocky start to a new decade that was supposed to be one of great optimism and innovation.

2020 was meant to be our year of healing. A time to tend to the wounds of a country torn asunder by a decade of divisive political and media debates. A lack of confidence in the international sporting arena. A 24-hour news cycle that has destroyed the pub test.

We thought all of the uncertainty was behind us. The federal election delivered us Scotty from Marketing. The Quiet Australian spoke up. Gay marriage? Yep. Climate change? Let’s wait and see what happens. Smudge and Warner had served their time and, together as a nation, it was time to rebuild.

But fate had other plans, starting with the worst bushfires in human memory. While large swathes of the country burned, our politicians were either on holidays or giving their mates grants to build indoor pools in blue-ribbon seats. Surely, it couldn’t get worse.

‘ken oath it could. Mother nature arrived as COVID-19, and told us all to go to our rooms.

Australia: The Cookbook

$65.00

A celebration of Australian cuisine like never before — 350 recipes showcasing the rich diversity of its landscapes and its people.

Australia is a true melting pot of cultures and this is reflected in its cooking. As an island of indigenous peoples alongside a global panoply of immigrants with different culinary influences and traditions, its foodways are ripe for exploration. As well as the regional flora and fauna that make up bush tucker, there are dishes from all over the world that have been adopted and adapted to become Australia’s own — making this recipe collection relevant to home cooks everywhere.

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