Top Picks - Non-Fiction

Paul Kelly

$35.00

Renowned music journalist Stuart Coupe examines the life of an Australian music icon – honest, revealing and a must-read for Paul Kelly fans and music lovers alike.

He’s been called Australia’s Bob Dylan and likened to Springsteen and Neil Young, but Paul Kelly stands alone as a chronicler of his and our times. He is Australia’s best-loved singer, songwriter, author and poetic observer and though he has written his own stories, no one has captured the broader life and times of Paul Kelly – until now.

Renowned music journalist, author and for many years Kelly’s manager, Stuart Coupe takes us from Kelly’s family life as the sixth of nine children in Adelaide to his life today. With Paul’s blessing and access to friends, family, band mates and musical collaborators, Coupe shows Paul’s evolution from a young man who only really picked up a guitar in his late teens, to an Australian music icon.

Through hundreds of interviews, Coupe details the way Paul juggled the demands, temptations and excesses of rock’n’roll with real life. Revealing Paul Kelly’s personal relationships, his friendships, his generosity and support of other artists, such as Archie Roach, Kasey Chambers, Kev Carmody, Vika and Linda Bull and Courtney Barnett, the force of Kelly’s powerful storytelling, his musical creativity, his activism and his work ethic also shines through.

Paul Kelly: The man, the music and the life in between is honest, revealing and a must-read for anyone interested in one of Australia’s greatest artists.

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

Vesper Flights

$35.00

From the bestselling author of H is for Hawk comes a transcendent collection of essays about the natural world

Animals don’t exist to teach us things, but that is what they have always done, and most of what they teach us is what we think we know about ourselves.

Helen Macdonald brings together a collection of her best-loved writing along with new pieces covering a thrilling range of subjects. There are essays here on headaches, on catching swans, on hunting mushrooms, on twentieth-century spies, on numinous experiences and high-rise buildings; on nests and wild pigs and the tribulations of farming ostriches. Vesper Flights is a book about observation, fascination, time, memory, love and loss and how we make the world around us. Moving and frank, personal and political, it confirms Helen Macdonald as one of this century’s greatest nature writers.

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.

What is to be Done

$35.00

A follow-up to the author’s prescient bestseller, first published in 1982, that alerted the public to the likely impacts of information technologies and the emergence of a post-industrial society.

When Sleepers, Wake! was released in Australia, it immediately became influential around the world: it was read by Deng Xiaoping and Bill Gates; was published in China, Japan, South Korea, and Sweden; and led to the author being the first Australian minister invited to address a G-7 summit meeting, held in Canada in 1985.

Now its author, the polymath and former politician Barry Jones, turns his attention to what has happened since — especially to politics, health, and our climate in the digital age — and to the challenges faced by increasingly fragile democracies and public institutions.

Jones sees climate change as the greatest problem of our time, but political leaders have proved incapable of dealing with complex, long-term issues of such magnitude. The Trump phenomenon overturns the whole concept of critical thinking and analysis. Meanwhile, technologies such as the smartphone and the ubiquity of social media have reinforced the realm of the personal. This has weakened our sense of, or empathy with, ‘the other’, the remote, and the unfamiliar, and all but destroyed our sense of community, of being members of broad, inclusive groups. The COVID-19 threat, which was immediate, and personal, showed that some leaders could respond courageously, while others denied the evidence.

In the post-truth era, politicians invent ‘facts’ and ignore or deny the obvious, while business and the media are obsessed with marketing and consumption for the short term. What Is to Be Done is a long-awaited work from Jones on the challenges of modernity and what must be done to meet them.

What the Colonists Never Knew

$35.00

What the Colonists Never Knew paints a vivid picture of what it was like to grow up Aboriginal in Sydney, alongside the colonists, from 1788 to the present.

Dennis, the grandson ofClarice Malinda Lougher, the last practising matriarch of the Gai-mariagal clan, was immersed in cultural knowledge and lore from an early age.Through his eyes we see a Sydney of totemic landscapes resonating with ceremonial sites and ancestral activity, song-lines and walking tracks, habitat caves and middens, and share memories of what has been lost.

At Narrabeen camp in the 1950s we meet Uncle Willie de Serve, a man who wore the scarifications of his ritual life and mentored the young Dennis. ‘His face was alive with a thousand stories.’

Dennis also introduces us to Nanna Watson, who lived in a little humpy at Car-rang gel (North Head). ‘On a hot summer’s afternoon, she would hitch her dress up round her knees and wriggle around in the sand to get a couple of ugaries (pipis), chew one up and spit it into the water and put the other one on the line, and before you knew it she’d have a big whiting or a bream.’

Through the stories so generously told we may reflect on what it means to be a stolen child and one of the ‘silent generations’, and to fight to safeguard culture and identity. We can sense the responsibility of being the senior Gai-mariagal and the last of the storytellers, and the urgency to document and share the knowledge bestowed on him by generations of his family.

The New Climate War

$35.00

Recycle. Fly less. Eat less meat. These are some of the ways that we’ve been told we can save the planet. But are individuals really to blame for the climate crisis?

Seventy-one per cent of global emissions come from the same hundred companies, but fossil-fuel companies have taken no responsibility themselves. Instead, they have waged a thirty-year campaign to blame individuals for climate change. The result has been disastrous for our planet.

In The New Climate War, renowned scientist Michael E. Mann argues that all is not lost. He draws the battle lines between the people and the polluters — fossil-fuel companies, right-wing plutocrats, and petro-states — and outlines a plan for forcing our governments and corporations to wake up and make real change.

It’s Not All Roses

$35.00

Jenny Ferguson’s memoir, It’s Not All Roses takes us on her journey from being born in the NSW countryside in the 1940s through to professional life as a teacher, asserting her independence as a feminist, wife and mother, travelling the world in search of inspiration in both restaurants and gardens.

Jenny faces chauvinism at many points in her life but firmly follows her own path and ignores the doubts and judgement of many. Her passion for cooking develops and with her customary determination, she launches her own restaurant in Sydney, as a self-taught chef. She achieves hard-won success, but after seven years, is disillusioned and weary and closes the restaurant. She moves to a large horse farm and starts an ambitious cottage garden, which eventually attracts thousands of admirers.

Her creativity and individuality shine through as she shares her varied life and reflects back on the people whose understanding and kindness helped her achieve her dreams.

The Ghost in the Garden

$35.00

The forgotten garden which inspired Charles Darwin becomes the modern-day setting for an exploration of memory, family, and the legacy of genius.

Darwin never stopped thinking about the garden at his childhood home, The Mount. It was here, under the tutelage of his green-fingered mother and sisters, that he first examined the reproductive life of flowers, collected birds’ eggs, and began the experiments that would lead to his theory of evolution.

A century and a half later, with one small child in tow and another on the way, Jude Piesse finds herself living next door to this secret garden. Two acres of the original site remain, now resplendent with overgrown ashes, sycamores, and hollies. The carefully tended beds and circular flower garden are buried under suburban housing; the hothouses where the Darwins and their skilful gardeners grew pineapples are long gone. Walking the pathways with her new baby, Piesse starts to discover what impact the garden and the people who tended it had on Darwin’s work.

Blending biography, nature writing, and memoir, The Ghost in the Garden traces the origins of the theory of evolution and uncovers the lost histories that inspired it, ultimately evoking the interconnectedness of all things.

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