‘Book received: Democratic Adventurer: Graham Berry and the Making of Australian Politics, by Sean Scalmer’, Honest History, 19 April 2020 updated
This new hardback from Monash University Publishing promises to be a detailed ‘life and times’ of an important player in colonial Victorian (and thus Australian politics). The author’s preface is a thoughtful exposition of ‘the nexus of individual and political power’ which is his theme. The book also attempts to redress a little the balance between ‘baptism by fire at Gallipoli’ accounts of our early decades and ‘the struggles and the achievements of the nineteenth century’, with all their admitted limits.
The book is handsomely produced and well-illustrated. Norman Abjorensen in Inside Story gave it a glowing review. And the author talked to Phillip Adams on Late Night Live.
Sean Scalmer has written a richly detailed account of this now-distant figure [concludes Abjorensen]. His finely nuanced explication of complex issues — private and public — opens a fascinating window on an age that was decisive in shaping Australia’s future. For all his flaws and failings, Berry had an undeniable influence on the course of Australian politics; he was in every sense a democratic adventurer.