By all accounts the bidding war for the upcoming Peter Costello memoir was a willing affair, a cheque book duel that will set the victorious publisher, Melbourne University Publishing, back by some multiple of five noughts. Which is a lot for a book, even one written by Peter Costello’s father-in-law.

The expectation is clear, that Costello will at last deliver a detailed insider’s perspective of the Howard government. That Costello, the man who never quite was, will at last put compelling flesh on one of the most bitter running enmities in Australian politics. We will want to read the dirt, the true story of how one man thwarted another’s ambition through jealous, pigheaded, egomaniacal obstructionism and in the end snuffed an abundant political talent.

It’s soap with elements of almost classical tragedy. Costello will need to summon the pluck to deliver a frank and wart-laden account. He will do his party great damage in the process. He will re-open old wounds and cut new ones. He’ll need courage. He’ll need honesty. He’ll need, at last, to stand up to be counted. Some chance.