Road to Ruin

In the textual equivalent of a late-night junk food binge, after baby Thomas woke me when I’d just got to sleep at 10pm, I bought Niki Savva’s Road to Ruin: how Tony Abbott and Peta Credlin destroyed their own government on my Kindle. (I’d resisting doing so for a couple of weeks – I have much more important things to read, like Suzanne Falkiner’s 900 page Stow biography!) I have been ashamedly engrossed in reading about just how dysfunctional the Abbott government was, and Savva’s source-gathering is impressive, but it’s a badly written book. David Marr drew me into polit-lit, and I stupidly assumed that it would tend to be written as well as he writes. Instead, I suspect he’s the high watermark and most of the genre has little literary merit. In this case, the narrative is shambolic, jumping all over the place without the sense of quiet control and ordering the best non-fiction writers show. It’s also repetitive and veers between a journalistic style and chatty, cringing prose. But I grant it had to be written in a hurry and it’s horribly fascinating.

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About Nathan Hobby

At work on a biography of Katharine Susannah Prichard for a PhD at the University of Western Australia. Also a novelist and librarian. View all posts by Nathan Hobby

8 responses to “Road to Ruin

  • Lisa Hill

    The Spouse has just bought this, but I reckon I’ve spent enough time reading reviews of it to know that there’s probably not much more to know.
    But your review is the first to mention the poor quality of the writing…
    (I suppose one wouldn’t expect fellow journos to comment on that, eh?)
    I haven’t read any of them, but I suspect that most of the recent crop of hastily written, dish-the-dirt on politicians books are all the same, hastily written as you say, and if the Rudd titles are anything to go by, they’re probably spiteful paybacks with a bonus gotcha moment to lure buyers in.
    I’m interested in politics, but I’m more interested in thoughtful ideas books, like Lindsay Tanner’s Sideshow, and Clare O’Neill’s Two Futures, and I also like proper biographies. David Day’s bios of Chifley and Curtin are great, have you come across them?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Nathan Hobby

      I think you’re spot on. Probably just as in literary biography most political biographies need some time and distance to be great. Haven’t read David Day – be interesting to contrast. I should add I’m glad there’s some scrutiny of recent events, and Killing Season showed it could be done well on TV at least (book version of that to come out soon).

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      • Lisa Hill

        Agreed, but I think we’d do better if there were not this unholy alliance between journalists and political media advisers. I don’t blame them – no journalist’s job is secure nowadays especially in the print media, and they need to keep open the option of working as a media adviser for one side or the other, but once they fly their flag to the mast it is so obvious which side these journalists are on. It makes it difficult to find an objective POV…

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    • Mary Liesch

      Thx Nathan, & Lisa, confirmed my decision not to buy, not even borrow from a library. Admittedly rarely agree with Savva on anything written or when she is on TV talk of any kind. Was actually surprised she wrote this.

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  • wadholloway

    I love politics, and to some extent, business politics, as much as I love football, and for much the same reason, because I have a side to support. I read 3 newspapers a day, follow all the ABC news (and sport) programmes, and lots of book reviews, but immediacy is the thing. I think the last book I read about current politics was Daniel Cohn-Bendit, Obsolete Communism in 1969. Still, hopefully Savva’s will go into your thesis as a how-not-to.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Nathan Hobby

      Obsolete Communism was probably the talking point of the day, right? But I suppose current affairs books fade quite quickly. I will be stretching things to work Savva’s books into my thesis, but you’re right – I’m always weighing up whether I could!

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      • wadholloway

        Not obsolete communism as in Berlin Wall falling, but obsolete as a path to revolution. Cohn-Bendit was one of the anarchist leaders of 1968 Paris riots/insurrection

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