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Books – Australia

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Australian Marxist Review

The AMR is the CPA’s periodical magazine of ideas, theory, policies, experience and discussion. In this issue – #57 – December 2014 : the world-wide struggle against capitalism and imperialism.

(Also available online for free including an extensive archive – donations to the Guardian Press Fund welcomed.)

$25 for a four issue subscription.

Date or issue number you wish to begin with:

An Undivided Heart – An anthology of poetry by Vic Williams

by Vic Williams
New Age Publishers for the CPA, Australia, 2014
Paper back – 32 pages

My mates all call me Banjo Bill,
and sing this song as we throw and fill,
our backs are bent but our arms are strong,
and swing in time to our drawling song.

From “Banjo Bill”.

Forward by Hannah Middleton.


But now we want the land back

by Hannah Middleton
New Age Publishers, Sydney, 1977
Paper back – 202 pages

This is the first Marxist analysis of the history of the Australian Aborigines. It is a partisan book, carefully documented but also human and moving. The Aborigines have lived in Australia for at least 60,000 years; white people for 220. In the book the balanced and cooperative nature of Aboriginal traditional society, the brutal and tragic story of white colonisation and the growth of organised black resistance to discrimination and exploitation are analysed.

In the final section the place of the Aboriginal national minority in the Australian nation is shown and the role of the capitalist establishment, the media and ultra radical ideology in destroying the crucial land rights campaign and in splitting the Aborigines from their white working class allies is exposed. It ends with an assessment of the future for the first Australians and an appeal for unity in the struggle for their rights.

This book is essential reading for anyone committed to justice and equality for the Aboriginal people of Australia.


Cold tea for Brandy – A Tale of Protest, Painting and Politics

by Joan Coxsedge
Vulcan Press, Victoria, 2007
Paper back – 432 pages

Joan did not grow up on easy street. She started life in the Depression years in Ballarat and knows what it is to be evicted and to go without. Alcohol and gambling ate up the meagre family income. This personal, lively account of her early days is a reminder to older readers of those tough times and for younger readers a powerful picture of those days and how much has been achieved since then by the labour, women’s and other social movements.


Eureka and Beyond: Monty Miller – his own story

Editor Vic Williams,
Paper back – 110 pages

Eureka and Beyond: Monty Miller – his own story is a first-hand account of one of Australia’s most historic events written in a colourful and entertaining style. At a young age Monty Miller fought and was wounded in the Eureka Stockade in 1854. At 85 he was sentenced to six months hard labour for his leadership in the anti-conscription struggles in 1917.

As well as Monty’s own description of the Eureka Stockade, the book contains extracts from “Labour’s Road to Freedom” with an introduction by the great Communist writer Katharine Susannah Throssell (Pritchard). There is an introduction by Vic Williams along with his poem “Are You Ready Monty Miller?”


Finding the Threads

by Tricia Bowen
Paper back – 54 pages

In October 2005, Feltex Carpets retrenched 165 workers from its Braybrooks site. Some had worked there for 40 years. These are their stories – stories of shared lifetimes, families, food, friendship, injuries, jokes, fights, strikes and struggle and of many languages and cultures forging a community.

Finding the Threads captures the comradeship, the wisdom and the connections of this group of retrenched Feltex workers.


Flowers to Make Daguragu Pretty:
The Gurindji 1966-2016

by Hannah Middleton
Paper back – 36 pages

On August 22, 1966, a group of Aboriginal people walked off Wave Hill station where they were employed and the whole community walked to the local Welfare Settlement where they made camp on the banks of the Victoria River and began a strike for better wages and working conditions.

Later they moved on to Daguragu in the Northern Territory on the banks of Wattie Creek. It became clear that they wanted more than equal wages and working conditions but their land back and to take control of their lives.

Hannah Middleton lived and worked with the Gurindji at Daguragu from April 1970 to February 1971. Her booklet, Flowers to Make Daguragu Pretty: The Gurindji 1966-2016, published for the 50th anniversary of the walk-off, tells the story of the past 50 years and her small part in it.


Martin Place

by DH Crick
Published by the Australasian Book Society
Hard cover – 249 pages

An Australian novel, set against the background of a finance company in Martin Place and life in the Sydney suburb of Glebe. A young, ambitious school leaver is excited when he gets a job as a junior clerk in the National Assurance Company. But life in the company is not quite what he expected and throws up choices that challenge his values and ambitions. In many respects Martin Place has parallels with today although in 1963 paper ledgers took the place of today’s computers. It is a great Australian novel. Copies are preloved but reasonable condition.


Slipped Through the Net – The story of Melrose Desmond Donley

by Elly Inta
Paper back – 158 pages

Taken from his mother at the age of six months, Des Donley became a ward of state, in and out of foster homes and then on to a Salvation Army Orphanage. At 15 he was farmed out to a family as virtual slave labour, working from 3.30 in the morning until 9 at night, sleeping in shed with a prickly straw pillow. Only at the age of 18, he ended his isolation, entered the paid workforce, found girls, dancing, music and had a few drinks. He became a union delegate, joined the Communist Party and spent a life fighting for others. The fair skinned Des was in his 60s when he learnt of his Aboriginality. He is still fighting, at the age of 94, for his stolen wages.


The Best Hated Man in Australia: The Life and Death of Percy Brookfield 1875-1921

by Paul Robert Adams
Published by Puncher & Wattman Biography
Paper back – 377 pages

The biography of militant unionist and outspoken politician Percival (Jack) Brookfield is as much an history book as a biography. Brookfield’s name is largely forgotten to people outside of the mining town of Broken Hill, yet Brookfield was one of the most controversial and outspoken characters of his time. He rose quickly from being a miner working underground to local and national fame. He fought on the streets as a unionist and in the anti-conscription campaign, and held the balance of power in the NSW Parliament when he was shot and later died in 1921. Fifteen thousand of the town’s 24,000 population followed the coffin from the Trades Hall to the cemetery, such was his popularity amongst those who admired him. He was also hated by many others, hence the name of the biography. This book recounts in a life-like manner his life up until the funeral.


The Traeger Kid

by Margaret Sharpe
Alternative Publishing Cooperative, Australia, 1983
Paper back– 108 pages

A delightful novel by Margaret Sharpe telling the story of an Aboriginal girl in Central Australia and her journey to Brisbane. It is revealing in its details, full of the warmth and joy of a child who gains pride in her own language, Aranda, and loves her country. There are a number of sub-themes about Aboriginal lifestyle and culture, differences between city and country life, the impact of land clearance by White settlers.

Written in the early 1980s, it is a trip down memory lane for older readers. Dr Sharpe knows her subject well. It is a book for children and adults alike. An enjoyable read.

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