Two and a half stars
We’re already drowning in news. That’s what makes this collection of political articles curious: why would anyone read last year’s fish-and-chip wrappers? Then again, as editor Eric Beecher observes, 2008 was an extraordinary year. From Rudd’s debut and apology to the stolen generations, through to the global financial crisis and the election of Barack Obama, last year was nothing if not newsworthy.
Beecher sources his material from a very narrow range: the serious newspapers – mainly the Australian – with cameos from the Monthly, Griffith Review and (his own) Crikey. The content is generally unsurprising but occasionally thought provoking, with the collection on Indigenous affairs (as well as the full text of Rudd’s apology) by far the standout. Here, the writers (including Marcia Langton, Paul Toohey and Don Watson) challenge our assumptions, hearts and minds.
But this section also betrays the book’s limitations: while it’s interesting to read Noel Pearson’s nuanced analysis from the day before the apology, what did he think after it? And what does he think now? This is a book for newshounds and political animals.