Three new political biographies reveal the strengths and weaknesses of the genre.
Australian political biography can be divided into three categories: The Job Application, The Post-Career Apologia, and The Proper History. The Job Applications are about those MPs voted most likely to be PM. These are men and women who are already a bit famous and powerful, and wish to be even more famous and powerful. Their books are either produced by the politicians themselves or penned by a sympathetic journalist. They’re cheap, cheerful, and dashed off to a tight deadline. They supply what all ambitious politicians need: their own personally vetted version of the “log cabin to the White House” narrative. If politics is show business for ugly people, then these books are the political equivalent of the celebrity biography…
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