Australian politics, society & culture

September 2016
Cover of East West Street
Philippe Sands’ ‘East West Street’ mixes memoir, biography and thriller to explain the origins of ‘crimes against humanity’ and ‘genocide’
By Martin Krygier

Lemberg, Lwów, Lvov, Lviv. Once you know they are place names, it sounds like a lot of travelling, but they are all the same city, buffeted by shifting borders: Polish Lwów before the 18th century and again between world wars, Lemberg under the Austro-Hungarian Empire until 1918 and again under Nazi occupation, Lvov when the Soviets displaced the Nazis, and now Lviv, in recently independent, but troubled, Ukraine. The instability of names registers the city’s painful and volatile history.

Current Issue
The life and legacy of Roald Dahl
By Anwen Crawford
Image of Roald Dahl in his writing hut
The late Roald Dahl, who was born 100 years ago this month, had many qualities that made him an outstanding children’s writer, including an eccentric sort of humour, an acute sense of fairness and a delight in words. But a lifelong sweet tooth may have been his most vital characteristic.
August 2016
Josh Kriegman and Elyse Steinberg’s documentary ‘Weiner’ charts the fall of a congressman who can’t keep out of the spotlight
By Leigh Sales
There has surely never been a greater gift to the singular headline writers at the New York Post than Anthony Weiner, the Democratic congressman compelled to stand down in 2011 after tweeting explicit photographs – including one of his bulging underwear – to several women, none
A region returns to earth
Hamish McDonald
To get the optimistic view in Port Hedland, 1600 kilometres north of Perth, you go to the little park at the end of Wedge Street and look out to the harbour channel at high tide. That’s when it’s deep enough for ships fully loaded with iron ore. One night recently, tugboats nudged four ore carriers around the sharp turn in the channel and out to the Indian Ocean.
Nobel Prize–winning journalist Svetlana Alexievich brings together an extraordinarily diverse group of Russian voices
Anna Goldsworthy
In Svetlana Alexievich’s book Voices from Chernobyl: The oral history of a nuclear disaster (1997), a photographer discusses the strange pull of the Exclusion Zone. “Mankind had abandoned these places forever,” he says. “And we were the first to experience this ‘forever’.” A soldier posted to the Zone describes what “forever” looks like:

Keep up-to-date with Australian politics, society and culture, for FREE.

Reading the tea-leaves for the next three years
Sean Kelly

Crisis on high “Deep in the Himalayas sits a remote research station that is tracking an alarming trend in climate change, with implications that could disrupt the lives of more than 1 billion people and pitch the most populated region of the world into chaos. The station...

Evidence of ‘torture’ of children in Darwin detention centre uncovered “Video of the tear gassing of six boys being held in isolation at the Don Dale Youth Detention Centre in Darwin in August 2014 exposes one of the darkest incidents in the history of juvenile justice in...

Read More
Current Issue
Max Richter brings his nocturnal odyssey ‘Sleep’ to the Sydney Opera House
By Anwen Crawford
“I’ve always thought that one of the more interesting things about music performance is how it relates to the space,” Max Richter tells me by telephone. The German-British composer describes the Sydney Opera House as the product of a modernist architecture that had “great faith...
July 2016
The Newtown Jets rugby league team has a loyal – and increasingly urbane – suburban following
By Alex McKinnon
Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the Eighth Wonder of the World! Henson Park, the home of RRRRUGBY LEAGUE and the mighty NEWTOWWWN JETS!”
June 2016
There’s a new contender in Sophie Mirabella and Cathy McGowan’s battle for Indi
By John van Tiggelen
On the face of it, Marty Corboy, the National Party’s candidate for Indi in north-eastern Victoria, has at best a ringside seat to one of the more keenly anticipated battles of this coming election.
Current Issue
Image of Sydney University graduate
Where has demand driven our universities?
By Thornton McCamish
Earlier this year Professor Glyn Davis, vice-chancellor of the University of Melbourne, published an essay in which he warned that Australia’s public universities should heed the fate that befell the monasteries in England under Henry VIII. Like the ancient monasteries, he wrote, universities are places apart, places that can become preoccupied with their own concerns.
Current Issue
Australia’s solar champions face an uncertain future
By Ceridwen Dovey
If you haven’t already heard, the solar cell efficiency race is on, and once you’ve dusted off your periodic table, it’s a race as scintillating as any big-ticket derby. The stakes, however, are much, much higher.
May 2016
Australia’s car industry has met policy failure head-on
By Richard Denniss
In 2000, as the Olympic torch wound its way around Australia en route to Sydney, the car leading the relay was an Australian-made, electric–petrol hybrid, the ECOmmodore. But during the decade that followed, Holden decided there was no future in Australian-made electric cars. It...
June 2016
The coral bleaching signals a defining environmental shift
By Jo Chandler
Many of today’s marine scientists blame Jacques Cousteau, who surfaced in their lounge rooms during their formative years, for luring them into the water. Others were hooked by the psychedelic barrage of coral gardens and sea creatures in National Geographic. Through the ’60s...
June 2016
An ideology of savagery
By Robert Manne
Two years ago, the armies of the group that would soon call itself the Islamic State, a group that already controlled large swathes of territory in Iraq and Syria, entered Mosul, the second city of Iraq.


September 2016
Still from Captain Fantastic
Matt Ross’ ‘Captain Fantastic’ is a portrait of a family in the wilderness
By Luke Davies
The opening moments of Matt Ross’ Captain Fantastic (in national release 8 September) introduce us to the rugged, pine-forested world of an ideal – or idealised – family living far off the grid in the woods of Washington State.
July 2016
Puzzling out the singular Degas at the National Gallery of Victoria
By Sebastian Smee
Whether it was more difficult to be friends with Edgar Degas or simply to be him is impossible to say. But isn’t it often like that with brilliant, prickly people? There is so much static around them that we struggle to see the doubt, the fear, their yearning to make contact.
June 2016
Beyoncé’s powerful ‘Lemonade’
By Anwen Crawford
Beyoncé in Lemonade
“The most disrespected person in America is the black woman,” said Malcolm X, on 5 May 1962. It was part of a wide-ranging speech on racism that he gave at the funeral service of Korean War veteran and Nation of Islam member Ronald Stokes, who was shot in the back by Los Angeles...
August 2016
Tom Griffiths’ ‘The Art of Time Travel’ is a thoughtful look at some of Australia’s most prominent historians
By Barry Hill
Cover of The Art of Time Travel
This is not so much a history, as an epic poem; and notwithstanding, or even in consequence of this, the truest of histories. – John Stuart Mill, ‘Carlyle’s French Revolution’
July 2016
‘Play School’ celebrates 50 years of preschool education and entertainment
By Russell Marks
Allan Kendall, an Australian Open quarterfinalist, university dramatist and qualified teacher, returned to Sydney from the European tennis circuit in the mid 1960s and was given the task of bringing Play School, a BBC show for preschoolers, to the ABC.