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Kerry O'Brien A Memoir

Walkley award winning ABC journalist, Kerry O'Brien, reflects on social and political upheavals he has witnessed and the personalities who have made history.

Born the day after the first American occupying troops landed near Tokyo in August 1945, Kerry O'Brien's life has spanned the post-war era through the maelstrom of the nuclear and digital age-a remarkable time of intense and dynamic change that has no match in human history. He has witnessed life changing events, interviewed the great and good, and explained the intricacies of the world to millions of Australians as we sat in the comfort and safety of our lounge rooms.

Whether strolling the history-laden corridors of the White House unhindered while waiting to interview Barack Obama, or talking with Nelson Mandela on his first day in the presidential residence in Pretoria in a room filled with the blood-soaked ghosts of apartheid, or receiving a haughty rebuke from an indignantly regal Margaret Thatcher, or exploring ideas with some of the great artists, philosophers and scientists of our time, Kerry O'Brien has sought to unearth the truth behind the news. In Australia, he has watched thirteen prime ministers come and go and has called the powerful to account without fear or favour.

In this intimate ground-breaking account told with wit and insight O'Brien reflects on the big events, the lessons learned and lessons ignored, along with the foibles and strengths of public figures who construct our world. The end result is a memoir like no other - an engrossing study of a private life lived in the public eye and wrapped in nearly three-quarters of a century of social and political history.
RRP $34.99
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PRODUCT DETAILS

  • Title: Kerry O'Brien A Memoir
  • Author: Kerry O'Brien
  • Publisher: Allen & Unwin
  • ISBN: 9781760296438
  • Languages: English

RATINGS & REVIEW

30/06/2019 8:07:23 AM - Edward
A good read with numerous inaccuracies
This book has considerably more documentation (and length) than Mike Willesee's memoirs and much more coverage of political developments. It is a readable and in many respects carefully done account. However, the book's content does not altogether justify O'Brien's description of himself as a "stickler for accuracy" (p. 333) and as someone whose on-air journalism gave no indication of "my old Labor connections" (p. 277). Some examples: 1) Page 204 says that Malcolm Fraser's prime ministership amounted to "the first time the term ['dole bludgers'] entered common usage in Australia." In contrast, Laurie Oakes' book Crash Through Or Crash (1976, p. 241) states that in 1975 the Whitlam Government was believed to be unpopular in part because of "emotive issues - dole bludgers, Whitlam's overseas travel, and the power of the unions." 2) Page 204 also says "Fraser met Milton Friedman... in America in the early months of his government," but the endnotes provide no documentation. I would like to see evidence they met in 1976 (as implied here). 3) Phillip Lynch is said to have been Treasurer when chairing Fraser's razor gang (p. 204). He had actually left the Treasurer position by then. 4) Page 300 criticizes Thatcher for following "tough" free-market policies with "great enthusiasm" and contrasts this posture with the Hawke Government's embrace of market policies (usually praised in the book as "reforms" and "fundamental change"), on the grounds that Labor cushioned the labor force with an Accord, the social wage, and Medicare. But Thatcher presided over a system of universal health coverage (the NHS) from day 1 (so there was no Medicare to introduce) and actual real wages grew under Thatcher, while they fell or stagnated under Hawke. 5) Page 308 says "the possibility of it [a Keating-Hawke agreement that the latter resign after the 1990 election] didn't occur to even the most imaginative journalist." I suggest that O'Brien check Richard Carleton's 1990-election-campaign joint interview with Hawke and Keating (for 60 Minutes), in which Carleton asked if there was a deal and they both denied it. 6) G.H.W. Bush's name was never "George Bush Senior" (p. 314); his middle initials do not fully coincide with his son's. And it is Baroness Thatcher, not "Baronet Thatcher" (p. 370). 7) Page 337 says 1992 was "against a background of other global economies sinking into recession." First, the word "global" is out of place here. Second, some economies, like the USA and UK economies, were growing by end-1992. 8) Page 340 observes that "some viewers might have thought I was going after Hewson more than Keating" in the course of the 1993 TV debates. That would be a reasonable judgment to make on the basis of the debate in which O'Brien premised his question to Hewson on the notion that government spending cuts automatically raise unemployment. As many studies have emphasized, Australia's record of federal government spending cuts in the late 1980s indicates that such cuts have no necessary implications for unemployment; the tightening of federal fiscal policy in 1985-1989 was associated with declining unemployment. 9) Page 344 refers to "the two Willesee debates on A Current Affair with Keating and Hewson." There were not two such debates. There was a single such debate. I believe O'Brien is misremembering the Willesee/Hewson "cake" interview in the 1993 election campaign as a second debate. 10) Page 345 states that John Dawkins confronted PM Hawke and told him to resign at a meeting "three years" before 1993. This is incorrect; it was five years. 10) Page 363 gives 1974 as the time of the Nixon bombing of Hanoi. It was actually 1972. 11) page 713 refers to "qualitative easing (interest rate cuts)." The term is quantitative easing, not qualitative easing, and it does not refer directly to interest-rate cuts, for then it would be an easing effected by varying prices (prices of assets), not by varying outstanding quantities of assets.
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