Book talk: 3 non-fiction books by Aussie authors

This week, Jeff Popple reviews three topical non-fiction books by Australian authors. More of Jeff’s reviews can be found on his blog:

Keeping Them Honest by Stephen Charles and Catherine Williams

Scribe, $32.99

The last few years have seen a plethora of reasons why a federal integrity commission is needed. Sports Rorts, Carpark Rorts, ethical breaches by federal politicians, and the more recent lopsided road upgrade grants, have all helped to undermine trust in our democratic political system. As former judge Stephen Charles and academic Catherine Williams compellingly argue in Keeping Them Honest, the time is well overdue for a proper integrity commission. In readable prose, they set out the case for proper scrutiny of our politicians and expose the dark side of political donors, lobbyists, and unchecked electoral spending. A timely and important book.

The Secret of Emu Field by Elizabeth Tynan

NewSouth, $34.99

The British nuclear testing at Maralinga still casts a dark cloud over Australia amid ongoing claims about contamination. Maralinga, however, was not the only test site, and in her outstanding book, Elizabeth Tynan pulls back the veil on the events at the larger Emu Field site. In clear detail, she outlines what is known about the tests there and the high level of secrecy that still surrounds them. She also addresses the “beneath contempt” attitude of the British towards the local Indigenous people and the failure of the Menzies Government to look after them. A fascinating and well-researched historical account.

Missing, Presumed Dead by Mark Tedeschi QC

Simon & Schuster, $34.99

The best true crime books have always had a strong concern for the victims of the crimes that they cover, and this is certainly the case with Mark Tedeschi’s Missing, Presumed Dead. Tedeschi was the prosecutor who handled the trial of Bruce Burrell for the murders of Dorothy Davis and Kerry Whalan, and his account of the intricate police investigation makes for gripping reading. His
behind-the-scenes insights into the investigation and the trial, and his post-trial reflections, are interesting and moving. An advocate for victims of crime, Tedeschi also provides a moving portrait of Dorothy and Kerry. An outstanding true crime book.

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