Daily Archives: January 10th, 2006

The History Wars

I got this book about 2 years ago from the bro in law; I have only just got around to reading it, basically because I was expecting it to be a moderately tough read. How wrong I was… Stuart McIntyre is a remarkable writer, making this a very readable read. I don’t think I ever ran into him at Melbourne Uni; I rather wish I had – he comes across as quite personable.

I would bet that some people (like those he has a bit of a go at in the book) have accused McIntyre of being partisan to the left… he certainly doesn’t pull any punches, as far as I can tell, and I think he probably does lean left. However, he acknowledges the good on both sides, and some of the things people on the left need to improve or that they have done not so well. And besides – at least according to the book – it is the right that has tried to be revisionist and take Australian history and even culture back to some idealised ’50s idea.

A recommended book for people looking to understand the controversy over the use of history in the public domain (politics, museums, the Bicentennary, schools). Also interesting for how it talks about how Howard has used history and how he has used it – or at least his understanding of it – to portray himself.

Good Night, and Good Luck.

This was a magnificent movie – I saw it yesterday at Nova (oh yeh, cheapo Monday). I knew it was going to be black and white, but I didn’t really know what else to expect in terms of the film. It was almost like a doco in many ways; I loved the way they used the original footage in the film – it was incredibly well done (the Liberace interview was hilarious). They obviously studied Murrow’s originals very closely… otherwise it just wouldn’t have worked. Clooney was pretty good; David S… whatever… was marvellous as Murrow. The music was also great.

I was surprised at how short it was: maybe 90 minutes at the most. It felt longer, but in a good way. I was also surprised at just how short the period McCarthy was doing his witch-hunting actually lasted. I’m sure it felt like an eternity to the people involved, and it was a long time in politics I guess, but the interviews and investigations ‘only’ lasted about 2 years; I had always got the impression it lasted longer.

I cannot recommend this highly enough. You don’t have to be all that politically minded, either, which I think is a positive; it is fairly obvious, with the choices of speeches etc, just what was going on. Very clever, very good.