A review essay of B.A. Santamaria, A Most Unusual Man by Gerard Henderson (Miegunyah) and While We Were Young and Foolish: A Memoir by Greg Sheridan (HarperCollins).

When Bob Santamaria was in the final hours of his life, he was visited at his deathbed by the then-prime minister, John Howard. Such a visit was inevitable. Howard's hero, Robert Menzies, had been kept in power for 16 years by the Labor split, the result of a process Santamaria had put in train. Howard himself had won power by campaigning against the "elites" and "political correctness", a campaign made possible by the culture war staged by the vast array of right-wing front groups that Santamaria had founded, from the Australian Family Association to the Council for the National Interest. And a favoured son of Santa's, Tony Abbott, was by that time a rising star in the Liberal Party and spoken of as a future prime minister. Proper respect was being paid.