Here are some of the best and worst books by Australian politicians in recent times. You be the judge on which one to demand at Christmas time …
There’s been a resurgence in the hallowed tradition of politicians writing books in Australia. Here are some of the most memorable of recent times. This list is not exhaustive; feel free to add more books (and brief reviews) in the comments section online. All these authors are current or former federal MPs unless otherwise noted.
Tony Abbott (Liberal).Battlelines, written well before Abbott became PM, is an assemblage of Abbott’s thoughts and reform proposals. Has sold a respectable 20,000 copies.
Kevin Andrews (Liberal). Wrote the 438-page Maybe ‘I Do’: Modern Marriage and the Pursuit of Happiness in 2012. This examines how to “create more successful marital unions”. There is also a concise edition available (183 pages).
Cory Bernardi (Liberal). Has published several books, including The Conservative Revolution.
Julie Bishop (Liberal). Controversial. Wrote a chapter for Peter van Onselen’s book Liberals in Power, but got busted for having it ghostwritten (and plagiarising to boot).
Bob Brown (Greens). Has written quite a few books from the 1980s until today, including Wild Rivers and Memo for a Saner World.
Bob Carr (Labor). His recent Diary of a Foreign Minister contained enough gems about pajamas in business class etc to ensure plenty of media coverage. It’s selling well at 9000-odd copies to date.
Greg Combet (Labor).The Fights of My Life, co-written by former staffer and journo Mark Davis, comes out in late July. Contains a fair bit on his career pre-politics.
Peter Costello (Liberal). The Costello Memoirs, co-written with his father-in-law Peter Coleman, sold well at 42,000 copies. It came out not long after the Coalition lost government.
Bob Day (Family First Senator). His book The Sales Doctor is released this month. It’s a self-help guide for business, which includes Day’s principles such as “no one likes being sold to, but everyone likes to buy”, and “don’t just find out what your customers want, find out why they want it”.
Gareth Evans (Labor). His diary from 1984 to 1986, when he was in government, will be published in late August. Apparently he dictated his diary for 20 minutes every evening. He’s already published 10 books, mostly on foreign affairs.
Tim Fischer (Nationals).Holy See, Unholy Me — 1000 days in Rome is Fischer’s memoir of being ambassador to the Holy See. “With his trusty black Akubra, Tim learned to navigate this strange new world and has lived to tell the tale!” the blurb reads.
Malcolm Fraser (Liberal). Co-wrote his memoirs with journalist and academic Meg Simons, Malcolm Fraser: The Political Memoirs, which sold quite well. Especially when you consider dollars per page — it’s 864 pages and weighs 1.45kg in hardback. Recently published Dangerous Allies about foreign policy and the US alliance.
Peter Garrett (Labor). His book is due in 2015. His career has spanned music, conservation and politics, so may attract a wider audience. Rumoured to have received a big advance.
Julia Gillard (Labor). Her memoir My Story is due in October and is quite a long read at 450-odd pages. There’s a huge buzz in publishing circles about it. Rumours abound that her advance was between $400,000 and $600,000. Could it sell as many as Howard’s biography?
Bob Hawke (Labor). His memoirs (published in the 1990s) sold an impressive 75,000 copies.
John Howard (Liberal). His autobiography Lazarus Rising is the gold standard; it sold 100,000 copies across three editions. It’s pretty long at 500-odd pages. His new book The Menzies Era comes out in October, and covers the period 1949 to 1972. Will it have he same appeal?
Paul Keating (Labor). It’s been rather forgotten, but in 2000 he published Engagement: Australia Faces the Asia-Pacific about foreign policy when he was PM. Has vowed not to write his memoirs.
Cheryl Kernot (Dems / Labor). Wrote Speaking for Myself Again in 2002, in which she dumps on Labor for her problems as an MP for the party. Details of the affair with Gareth Evans are not in here.
Joan Kirner (Labor, former Victorian premier). Co-wrote The Women’s Power Handbook on why women should want power and how to get it.
Mark Latham (Labor).The Latham Diaries sold well at 55,000 copies. He has written seven other books and has a new one, The Political Bubble: why Australians distrust politics, coming out later this month.
Carmen Lawrence (Labor, former WA premier). Wrote Fear and Politics in 2006, arguing that fear and xenophobia were increasingly dominating politics.
Maxine McKew (Labor). The former journalist wrote Tales from the Political Trenches about her time in politics and where Labor went wrong. Not sympathetic to Julia Gillard.
Rob Oakeshott (Indep). With the scintillating title of The Independent Member for Lyne, Oakeshott’s recent memoir traces his time in the balance-of-power. Generally well-received by critics.
Graham Perrett (Labor). Has written two racy novels, The Twelfth Fish and The Big Fig, which included sex scenes. The tabloids took a dim view of this.
Christopher Pyne (Liberal). Somewhat unusually for a government frontbencher, Pyne released a book midway through the Abbott government’s first term. Titled A Letter To My Children, it’s a personal account of why he decided to be a politician.
Kevin Rudd (Labor). Co-wrote the children’s book Jasper and Abby and the Great Australia Day Kerfuffle, which stars Rudd’s pets Abby and the late Jasper. Has Rudd secured a publisher for a more serious book? Crikey hears whispers he’s planning to write something new …
Wayne Swan (Labor).The Good Fight: six years, two prime ministers and staring down the great recession is out next month. It looks at how Australia coped with the GFC, plus Swan’s take on the Rudd/ Gillard ructions.
Lindsay Tanner (Labor). Established author. Recently wrote Sideshow: dumbing down democracy about what’s wrong with the political system and the media.
Malcolm Turnbull (Liberal). Wrote The spy catcher trial: The scandal behind the #1 best seller (he was involved in the case) and The Reluctant Republic (1994). Surely there’s another book in him?
Gough Whitlam (Labor). Wrote Gough Whitlam: The Truth of the Matter, about the events leading up to his sacking by infamous then-governor-general Sir John Kerr.
Andrew Wilkie (Indep).The Axis of Deceit was published in 2004, well before Wilkie entered Parliament. It deals with his time as an intelligence analyst who resigned over the Iraq War, earning the ire of the Australian government.
* Which is the best/ worst book by an Australian politician? Tell us your thoughts in the comment stream online.