Up against the likes of Paul Barry’s titillating biography of Shane Warne, Spun Out, and Susan Mitchell’s biography of Margaret Whitlam, this was a one-horse race. Chris Masters’ Jonestown is a fascinating but flawed account of a fascinating but flawed man whose life story absolutely needed to be written. Most of the attention over this book concentrated on slamming the innuendo about Jones’s private life — criticism which is at least partly justified. This was unfortunate because the book is really about the much more significant issue of Jones’s vast and vastly disproportionate influence on Australian politics and public life. Through detailed research and interviews, Masters manages to reconstruct the life of a tarnished but highly successful operator who spends his time adjusting powerful levers of influence while purporting to be just one of the mob.

*Most scandalous biography of 2006 is a new award.

Peter Fray

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