John Curtin's War
This tremendous counter-point to John Howard's The Menzies Era is volume one of a major new biography of arguably our greatest (and one of our most underrated) Prime Ministers, who shaped modern Australia. Curtin was Menzies' great rival, taking over from him as Prime Minister at the start of the war with arguably a greater political legacy. Curtin - who died in office - is one of our more intriguing Prime Ministers. A slightly timid socialist boozer with a wall-eye - from WA to boot - he was the utter opposite of Menzies. Yet this quiet man made our nation into modern Australia.We think of Australia as being made in WW1, at Gallipoli, but in this landmark work of history, John Edwards shows that the Depression and WW2 were the central events to the creation of our nation. The Depression (covered in this book) taught Curtin and the nation how cruelly Britain's bankers could treat its colonies, and how great the consequent suffering. Inspired, we became the world's greatest social democratic country. WW2 (covered in volume two) taught us that we couldn't rely on Britain for militarily support either, but that America might be our new best friend.This is a major achievement, replete with tremendous scholarship and great detail, worthy of its two volumes. These two books will be the definitive word on the subject.
John Edwards is a member of the board of the Reserve Bank of Australia and Nonresident Fellow at the Lowy Institute. He is also an adjunct professor at both the University of Sydney School of Business and the John Curtin Institute of Public Policy at Curtin University. For many years Dr Edwards was the Chief Economist for HSBC Bank in Australia and New Zealand. He was formerly senior economic adviser for Treasurer and then Prime Minister Paul Keating. His account of the former Prime Minister, Keating- The inside story, published by Penguin, was a bestseller.