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Literary conference: 3 new history books

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This week, Jeff Popple reviews three fascinating new history books. More of Jeff’s reviews can be found on his blog: meurtremayhemandlongdogs.com

king richard by Michael Dobbs

Scribe, $ 35

The chaos of the Trump presidency and the various impeachment attempts have often cited misinformed references to President Nixon’s final days. Now with King Richard, American journalist Michael Dobbs shows what really happened when the Nixon presidency fell. Drawing on thousands of hours of recently released tape recordings, many of which were secretly made by Nixon, Dobbs offers an intimate and gripping tale of the last hundred days of the Presidency. With great clarity, it reveals the behind-the-scenes maneuvers, as the Watergate burglars and their masters turned on each other, revealing their direct connection to the White House and Nixon’s response. An exciting and informative read.

Condemned Port Arthur by David W. Cameron

Viking, $ 34.99

Convict-Era Port Arthur by prolific Canberran historian David Cameron takes us back to the dark days of Australia. With his usual readable style, Cameron provides a comprehensive and well-researched history of the Port Arthur Correctional Facility from the first arrival of convicts until its closure in 1877. Using a variety of sources, including detailed records, Cameron tells the story of Port Arthur through the words of the soldiers, convicts and administrators who stayed there. With a keen eye for detail and history, Cameron brings to life what it was like to serve a sentence in Australia’s most feared convict prison. Recommended.

The platoon commander by John O’Halloran with Ric Teague

Hatchet, $ 34.99

Well-informed accounts and stories about Australia’s involvement in the Vietnam War are now regularly published and this personal memory of John O’Halloran is a much appreciated addition. O’Halloran was a boy from Tamworth called up for national service at the start of the war. As a tough and determined 21-year-old, he guided his platoon through some of the war’s greatest conflicts, including the Battle of Long Tan and Operation Bribie, where he led a fixed bayonet charge against a stronghold of the Viet Cong jungle. Long respected for his role in the war, O’Halloran’s personal story is compelling read and deserves a wide audience.

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