Short reviews: Reg Saunders: An Indigenous War Hero / Radical Newcastle / The Rise and Fall of Gunns Ltd

Reg Saunders: An Indigenous War Hero

Reg Saunders: An Indigenous War Hero

Hugh Dolan and Adrian Threlfall

NewSouth Books

2015

$19.99

This book tells the little known story of Reg Saunders, the first Indigenous Australian to become an officer in the army. Reg Saunders MBE (1920–90) not only survived the World War II battlefields in the Middle East, North Africa, Greece, Crete and New Guinea, but excelled as a military leader. He was recommended for officer training and, in 1944, returned to New Guinea as a platoon commander – the first Aboriginal Australian to serve as a commissioned officer. What happened during the war to transform a determined young man from country Victoria into a war hero – one who would go on to serve with distinction in the Korean War, and become a pioneering figure for Indigenous rights?

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Radical Newcastle

Radical Newcastle

Edited by James Bennett, Nancy Cushing, and Erik Erlund

NewSouth Books

2015

$39.99

The Star Hotel in Newcastle has become a site of defiance for the marginalised young and dispossessed working class. To understand the whole story of the Star Hotel riot, it should be seen in the context of other moments of resistance such as the 1890 Maritime Strike, Rothbury miners' lockout in 1929 and the recent battle for the Laman Street fig trees. As Australia's first industrial city, Newcastle is also a natural home of radicalism but until now, the stories that reveal its breadth and impact have remained untold. Radical Newcastle brings together short illustrated essays from leading scholars, local historians and present day radicals to document both the iconic events of the region's radical past and less well known actions seeking social justice for workers, women, Aboriginal people and the environment.

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The Rise and Fall of Gunns Ltd

The Rise and Fall of Gunns Ltd

Quentin Beresford

NewSouth Books

2015

$32.99

Quentin Beresford illuminates for the first time the dark corners of the Gunns empire. He shows it was built on close relationships with state and federal governments, political donations and use of the law to intimidate and silence its critics. Gunns was single-minded in its pursuit of a pulp mill in Tasmania's Tamar Valley.  It was also embedded in an anti-democratic and corrupt system of power supported by business, unions and both main political parties,. Simmering opposition to Gunns and all it stood for ramped up into an environmental campaign of a scale not seen since the Franklin Dam protests. Fearless and forensic in its analysis, the book shows that Tasmania's decades-long quest to industrialise nature fails every time.

From Chain Reaction #123, April 2015, national magazine of Friends of the Earth, Australia, www.foe.org.au/chain-reaction/editions/123

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