Jonestown promised to be
an important and rare book. Although talkback radio is one of Australia’s
most popular, and popularly derided, media forms, it has attracted remarkably
few books. There are only two biographies of John Laws, and still none of Jones.
Compare this with the United
States, where at least 11 books have been
written about Rush Limbaugh. More liberal defamation laws in the United States
have undoubtedly helped to foster the publication of critical biographies of
major media and political identities.
All the speculation
in recent days about Jonestown‘s
contents, and the insistent use of the badge “unauthorised”, have somewhat
overlooked the author’s intentions. Masters has previously stated that he set
out to write “an examination of Jones’s power” instead of doing “a Jones on
Jones”. It’s not the way I work. People who hate him blindly are as
uninteresting as people who love him blindly’.
This is the
second biography of Alan Jones to fall over. By January 2004 his friend, former
cricketer Bruce Francis, was at Tweed Heads hard at work on a biography, while
Chris Masters was up at Pearl
Beach dealing with the first
legal appraisal of Jonestown. Susan
Wyndham reported in the Sydney Morning
Herald [10 January 2004] that Francis had
conducted 11 three-hour interviews with Jones, and had been given access to 140
folders of letters, as well as to friends and associates. Francis wanted
readers to ‘feel they have been at dinner with Alan and understand his values’:
‘I like Alan Jones; I think he’s a
wonderful person’. In late 2004 Random House declined to publish the manuscript
because it ‘wasn’t what we commissioned’ [SMH, ? December 2004].
As people resume
their wait for Jonestown, they will
all have to make do with ‘Alan’s Biography’ on the 2GB website.