Ben Chifley: A Biography, Longmans, Croydon, Vic, 1963; first published 1961
Classic Australian political biography, though criticised by some as hagiography. Particularly useful on the period after World War II, when Chifley as Prime Minister and Treasurer dealt with the aftermath of war and the reconstruction of an economy on the basis of full employment, in contrast with the depression years before the war.
The book was reviewed in 1962 by JW Burton, Crisp’s great rival in the small Canberra Labor pond, another former young head of a Commonwealth department turned academic, not as close to Chifley as Crisp was, and a man of rather different views. Burton described Crisp’s biography as ‘the description of a mythical figure rather than the person’. Still, the book is essential reading for anyone dealing with the political history of Australia in the first half of the twentieth century.