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.

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?

Body Count: How Climate Change is Killing Us

$32.99

Suddenly, when the country caught fire, people realised what the government has not: that climate change is killing us.

But climate deaths didn’t start in 2019. Medical officers have been warning of a health emergency as temperatures rise for years, and for at least a decade Australians have been dying from the plagues of climate change – from heat, flood, disease, smoke. And now, pandemic.

In this detailed, considered, compassionate book, Paddy Manning paints us the big picture. He revisits some headline events which might have faded in our memory – the Brisbane Floods of 2011; Melbourne’s thunderstorm asthma fatalities of 2016 – and brings to our attention less well-publicised killers: the soil-borne diseases that amplify after a flood; the fact that heat itself has killed more people than all other catastrophes put together. In each case, he has interviewed scientists to explore the link to climate change and asks how – indeed, whether – we can better prepare ourselves in the future.

Most importantly, Manning has spoken to survivors and the families of victims, creating a monument to those we have already lost. Donna Rice and her 13-year-old son Jordan. Alison Tenner. The Buchanan family. These are stories of humans at their most vulnerable, and also often at their best. In extremis, people often act to save their loved ones above themselves. As Body Count shows, we are now all in extremis, and it is time to act.

Respected journalist Paddy Manning tells these stories of tragedy and loss, heroism and resilience, in a book that is both monument and warning.

Read an extract.

PRAISE FOR BODY COUNT

“A climate emergency tour de force” – Dr Bob Brown

“A stunningly powerful call to political leaders everywhere who hear the warnings of the devastating impacts of climate change on health but fail to act” – Dr Helen Haines

Bush School

$29.99

In 1960, newly minted teacher Peter O’Brien started work as the only teacher at a bush school in Weabonga, two days’ travel by train and mail car from Armidale.

Peter was only 20 years old and had never before lived away from his home in Sydney. He’d had some teaching experience, but nothing to prepare him for the monumental challenge of being solely responsible for the education of 18 students, ranging in age from 5 to 15 years old. With few lesson plans, scant teaching materials, a wide range of curious minds and ages to prepare for, Peter was daunted by the enormity of the task ahead.

Because of Weabonga’s remoteness, the students were already at a disadvantage, but they were keen and receptive and had been blessed with an enthusiastic and committed teacher. Indeed it was the children and their thirst for learning who kept Peter afloat during the early days of shockingly inadequate living conditions, a deficient diet and the terrible loneliness he felt being isolated so far from family, friends and his burgeoning romance.

Bush School is an engaging and fascinating memoir of how a young man rose to a challenge most would shrink from today. It tells movingly of the resilience and spirit of children, the importance of learning and the transformative power of teaching.

Chasing the Light

$35.00

A rare, controversial, and totally no holds barred memoir from one of Hollywood’s greats.

In this powerful and evocative memoir, Oscar-winning director and screenwriter, Oliver Stone, takes us right to the heart of what it’s like to make movies on the edge.

In Chasing The Light he writes about his rarefied New York childhood, volunteering for combat, and his struggles and triumphs making such films as Platoon, Midnight Express, and Scarface.

Before the international success of Platoon in 1986, Oliver Stone had been wounded as an infantryman in Vietnam, and spent years writing unproduced scripts while taking miscellaneous jobs and driving taxis in New York, finally venturing westward to Los Angeles and a new life.

Stone, now 73, recounts those formative years with vivid details of the high and low moments: we sit at the table in meetings with Al Pacino over Stone’s scripts for Scarface, Platoon, and Born on the Fourth of July; relive the harrowing demon of cocaine addiction following the failure of his first feature, The Hand (starring Michael Caine); experience his risky on-the-ground research of Miami drug cartels for Scarface; and see his stormy relationship with The Deer Hunter director Michael Cimino. We also learn of the breathless hustles to finance the acclaimed and divisive Salvador; and witness tensions behind the scenes of his first Academy Award-winning film, Midnight Express.

PRAISE FOR CHASING THE LIGHT

“Riveting.” – The New York Times

“Raw, savagely honest, as dramatic as any of his movies.” – Mail on Sunday

“A tremendous book – readable, funny and harrowing.” – The Sunday Times

“He provokes outrage. He stirs up controversy. He has no respect for safe places. Oliver Stone is larger than life. Chasing the Light says it all.” – Sir Anthony Hopkins

Daddy Cool

$32.99

“Every family has secrets. Ours also has an award-winning biographer. My sister’s discoveries astonished me.” – Geraldine Brooks

Who can ever truly know their parents? He was a glamorous heart-throb, a famous American singer performing in front of Bette Davis, Katharine Hepburn, Clark Gable and other stars at the Academy Awards. In the 1930s, his recording of ‘Hawaiian Paradise’ outsold those of Bing Crosby and Guy Lombardo. So how did he become an Australian infantryman, fighting alongside and performing for his fellow Diggers in Palestine, Beirut, Egypt and New Guinea? Why did he leave Hollywood and the ritziest hotels in America for a modest Californian bungalow in suburban Sydney? And what caused him to cease his endless drifting from one woman to another, one marriage to another, and settle with the love of his life?

She was a strong Aussie woman, a talented radio broadcaster and publicity agent. Why did she take a chance on this reckless vagabond and notorious womaniser? Seeking answers, Darleen Bungey turns her biographical skills on her own family, exploring her father’s multi-layered and at times tempestuous life with a truthful eye and loving heart.

REVIEWS
“This memoir does maximum honour to the idea that each family is its own unique story.” Tom Keneally

“Bungey’s writing is as spellbinding and wondrous as the subject she has so bravely, forensically, gracefully explored.” – Trent Dalton

“Unexpected, sweet and raw.” – David Marr

Enid

From the bestselling author of Sheila comes the story of a bewitching Australian socialite who fascinated the world.

Enid Lindeman stood almost six feet tall, with silver hair and flashing turquoise eyes. The girl from Strathfield in Sydney stopped traffic in Manhattan, silenced gamblers in Monte Carlo and dared walk a pet cheetah on a diamond collar through Hyde Park in London.

In early twentieth-century society, when women were expected to be demure and obedient, the granddaughter of Hunter Valley wine pioneer Henry Lindeman waltzed through life to the beat of her own drum. She drove an ambulance in World War I and hid escaped Allied airmen behind enemy lines in World War II, played bridge with Somerset Maugham and entertained Hollywood royalty in the world’s most expensive private home on the Riviera, allegedly paid for by her winnings in a game of cards.

Enid captivated men with her beauty, outlived four husbands-two shipping magnates, a war hero and a larger-than-life Irish earl-spent two great fortunes and earned the nickname ‘Lady Killmore’. From Sydney to New York, London to Paris and Cairo to Kenya, Robert Wainwright tells the fascinating story of a life lived large on the world stage.

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