Summer days are here. And whether they include a bucolic seaside holiday, or just a staycation bathed in long warm evenings in the backyard, it is the time to read.
Books provide us the liminal space between our life and the life of others, be they characters in a story or real-life participants of human history. Books assist us to break away from the hurly-burly of work-life that colonised our psyche during winter.
We asked four Neos Kosmos journalists to provide a title.
Neos Kosmos recommends these four books as essential summer reading
1. Bulldozed: Scott Morrison’s fall and Anthony Albanese’s rise – Niki Savva published by Scribe
This is catnip for politicos. Savva, herself a senior media adviser to former Liberal treasurer Peter Costello, is an insider. The journalist, and author of many political books, provides an energetic, gripping, and detailed background of how the former prime minister Scott Morrison was his own worst enemy. She talks to many from the Coalition who take shots at Scot Morrison for his tin-ear and inability to read the room, concerned at how quickly his popularity evaporated as did the trust of the Australian people.
Savva also shows how a professional and astute Labor party opposition learnt from its 2019 failed campaign and could sense victory. She examines and looks at the rise of the Teals, many of them professional women who were aghast at the sexism withing what was a ‘blokey’ club.
Scot Morrison is portrayed as a narcistic, bullying leader, absent of empathy, who hooks himself with three lines. His infamous justification for his mid-bushfires Hawaiian holiday, “I don’t hold a hose, mate”; the oft used “It’s not job” here when referring to the lack of rapid antigen tests, at the height of the pandemic; and “It’s not a race” when it really, really, was a race to get vaccinations into Australia again at the height of the Covid pandemic. Savva’s book is excellent, it is riveting and will stand as testament of how not to lead.
2. Salonika Burning Gail Jones – published by The Text Publishing Company
“By midnight all was blaze and disintegration. A group of soldiers standing on the hill watched with indecent pleasure.”
This as an historical novel, a book about humanity and love in war and one with a unique Australian and Greek connection. Gail Jones’ book was also selected in the Victorian Premier’s short list. It is set in Greece, 1917. The great northern city of Thessaloniki is engulfed by fire and Europe is ravaged by war. Amid the destruction, there are those who have come to the frontlines to heal: surgeons, ambulance drivers, nurses, orderlies, and other volunteers. Four of them—Stella, Olive, Grace, and Stanley—are at the centre of Gail Jones’s astonishing novel, which takes its inspiration from the wartime experiences of Australians Miles Franklin and Olive King, and British painters Grace Pailthorpe and Stanley Spencer. In Jones’ imagination these four lives interlace and alter, each bound by the desire to create something meaningful in the ruins of a broken world.
Immersive and gripping, Salonika Burning illuminates not only the devastation of war but also the vast social upheaval of the times. It shows Gail Jones to be at the height of her powers. Gail Jones has received numerous literary awards, including the Prime Minister’s Literary Award, the Age Book of the Year, the South Australian Premier’s Award, the ALS Gold Medal, and has been shortlisted for the Miles Franklin Literary Award, the International Dublin Literary Award.
3. Australia Calling: The ABC Radio Australia Story by Phil Kafcaloudes published by ABC
An excellent book on the role of ABC Radio Australia as a constant voice in international broadcasting for more than 80 years. This is an account of Australia’s international radio service from its earliest days as an anti-propaganda service in the opening days of WWII. It tracks the service’s evolution through the tumultuous shifts in geopolitics and media technology of the twentieth century, and into a new era of dialogue across the Pacific region.
Written and researched by one of ABC Radio Australia’s long-term journalists, this book is a timely account of this much valued international service and a reflection of Australia’s evolving place in the world. Dr Phil Kafcaloudes is an author and broadcast journalist who presented the breakfast program on the ABC’s Radio Australia for nine years, broadcasting across the Pacific and Asia on FM. This earned him a highly commended as the ABU International Radio Personality of the Year in the 2007 awards. For the ABC, he worked in 12 countries and hosted the corporation’s first English-language program from China. Phil has also taught journalism at La Trobe University and at RMIT.
4. Grecian Adventure: Anzac Trail Stories and Photographs – Greece 1941 Jim Claven
Jim Claven takes the reader on a journey across Greece in April and May 1941, following the Anzac trail throughout the Greek campaign, from the northern Greek battlefields of Vevi and Servia, through Brallos and Corinth, to Kalamata and the Mani, and on to Crete.
The reader is guided by the individual stories and photographs of some of the Australian soldiers who served in that desperate and fateful campaign. The soldiers featured include Private Syd Grant and Sergeant Alfred Huggins, both from Western Victoria.
The book is a fulsome one which comprises 335 pages,13 maps, and 48 pages of archival photographs. There are nearly 100 original photographs of Greece during the campaign, from the collections of Syd and Alfred, two collections which the author assisted in their donation to Melbourne’s State Library of Victoria.
The book is a great addition to the literature of the campaign, a celebration of this important part in the Hellenic link to Australia’s Anzac tradition, following on from the author’s previous publication, Lemnos and Gallipoli Revealed.
5. The Children of Aphrodite: Cypriots in Australia by Professor Anastasios Tamis published by Cyprus Community of Melbourne and Victoria
The Cyprus Community of Melbourne and Victoria commissioned The Children of Aphrodite: Cypriots in Australia book by Greek community historian Professor Anastasios Tamis. At a time when post-war generations pass it is a timely book laden with primary source material of the community’s development and many first-hand accounts. This is an important historical tome on Cypriots in Australia which covers 100 years of Hellenic Cypriot migration and settlement in Australia. It is extensive and documents many accounts of struggles and successes that would otherwise be lost to us.