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Issue Details: First known date: 2017... 2017 The Enigmatic Mr Deakin
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AbstractHistoryArchive Description

'This insightful and accessible new biography of Alfred Deakin, Australia’s second prime minister, shines fresh light on one of the nation’s most significant figures. It brings out from behind the image of a worthy, bearded father of federation the gifted, passionate and intriguing man whose contributions continue to shape the contours of Australian politics.

'The acclaimed political scientist Judith Brett scrutinises both Deakin’s public life and his inner life. Deakin’s private papers reveal a solitary, religious character who found distasteful much of the business of politics, with its unabashed self-interest, double-dealing, and mediocre intellectual levels. And yet politics is where Deakin chose to do his life’s work.

'Destined to become a classic of biography, The Enigmatic Mr Deakin is a masterly portrait of a complex man who was instrumental in creating modern Australia.' (Publication Summary)

Publication Details of Only Known VersionEarliest 2 Known Versions of

    • Melbourne, Victoria,: Text Publishing , 2017 .
      image of person or book cover 4297496167449287881.jpg
      This image has been sourced from Booktopia
      Extent: 512p.
      Note/s:
      • Published 14th August 2017

      ISBN: 9781925498660

Works about this Work

A Man of Only Relative Autonomy Geoff Robinson , 2018 single work review
— Appears in: Arena Magazine , August no. 155 2018; (p. 56-57)

'For decades now, the temptation for students of the life and career of Alfred Deakin has been to define him as a man of policy and a nation-builder. The policies at issue here are those of old Australian economic interventionism: tariffs and industrial arbitration, and authors either praise or condemn Deakin according to their attitudes towards these institutions. In The Enigmatic Mr Deakin, Judith Brett is less interested in this than previous analysts and for this reason her focus is more on Deakin’s nineteenth century experience than the well-trodden path of post Federation civic construction. Instead, she focuses on the manner in which Deakin constructed himself out of the available materials, and the crucial role that religion played in the life of the country’s most famous liberal. Brett also teases out the ultimate paradox: Deakin’s unconventional personal journey led to an utterly conventional political destination, a fused liberal-conservatism.'  (Introduction)

Tim Winton, Helen Garner, Paul Keating, Deng Adut : The Stories behind the Year's Best Biographies Tim Winton , Deng Adut , Bernadette Brennan , Joan Healy , Judith Brett , Troy Bramston , 2018 single work column
— Appears in: The Guardian Australia , 12 July 2018;

'Six authors nominated for the National Biography awards reveal what most surprised them about their subjects.' (Publication abstract)

Judith Brett : The Enigmatic Mr Deakin Bernard Whimpress , 2018 single work essay
— Appears in: The Newtown Review of Books , June 2018;

'The Enigmatic Mr Deakin, the new biography of Australia’s second, fifth and seventh Prime Minister, is a magnificent sweep of a book that demanded to be written.' (Introduction)

[Review] The Enigmatic Mr Deakin Marian Quartly , 2018 single work review
— Appears in: Australian Historical Studies , vol. 49 no. 2 2018; (p. 276-277)

— Review of The Enigmatic Mr Deakin Judith Brett , 2017 single work biography

'Australian scholars have written some excellent biographies, and Judith Brett's The Enigmatic Mr Deakin is amongst the best of them. It stands tall alongside recent triumphs like Jill Roe's Stella Miles Franklin and Mark McKenna's An Eye for Eternity: The Life of Manning Clark. Like Roe and McKenna, Brett draws her readers into a sympathetic understanding of a complex and often contradictory subject. And beyond that, to a new appreciation of the society that shaped him and was shaped by him. Not since Allan Martin's Henry Parkes has an Australian biography captured so well the spirit of the age.'  (Introduction)

The Enigmatic Mr Deakin By Judith Brett James Walter , 2018 single work review
— Appears in: Australian Journal of Politics & History , March vol. 64 no. 1 2018; (p. 144-145)

'Alfred Deakin, thrice prime minister in the first Commonwealth decade, was unusually gifted and complex — indeed, enigmatic. Earlier analysts have presented multiple facets of this intriguing figure. Walter Murdoch’s “sketch” (1923) captured Deakin’s charismatic appeal, but not the mixed reactions of his contemporaries; John La Nauze produced a meticulous account of the federal political career (1965), but skimmed Deakin’s formative period in colonial politics and ignored the challenges of his inner life and religion; Al Gabay gave us some grasp of the “mystic” Deakin’s religious and spiritual dimensions (1992); and John Rickard provided an engaging interpretation of the “family romance” from which this cosseted prodigy emerged (1996). ' (Introduction)

For Reasons Known Only to Himself Norman Abjorensen , 2017 single work review
— Appears in: Inside Story , August 2017;

— Review of The Enigmatic Mr Deakin Judith Brett , 2017 single work biography
[Review] The Enigmatic Mr Deakin Marian Quartly , 2018 single work review
— Appears in: Australian Historical Studies , vol. 49 no. 2 2018; (p. 276-277)

— Review of The Enigmatic Mr Deakin Judith Brett , 2017 single work biography

'Australian scholars have written some excellent biographies, and Judith Brett's The Enigmatic Mr Deakin is amongst the best of them. It stands tall alongside recent triumphs like Jill Roe's Stella Miles Franklin and Mark McKenna's An Eye for Eternity: The Life of Manning Clark. Like Roe and McKenna, Brett draws her readers into a sympathetic understanding of a complex and often contradictory subject. And beyond that, to a new appreciation of the society that shaped him and was shaped by him. Not since Allan Martin's Henry Parkes has an Australian biography captured so well the spirit of the age.'  (Introduction)

[Review Essay] The Enigmatic Mr Deakin FL , 2017 single work essay
— Appears in: The Saturday Paper , 19-25 August 2017;

'When he was 22 and a mint-new member of the Victorian parliament, Alfred Deakin won wild applause with a maiden speech in which he tendered his resignation. In a political career spanning almost 40 years, Deakin would nearly always be on the verge of resigning.' (Introduction)

The Forgotten Leader : Rediscovering Alfred Deakin John Rickard , 2017 single work
— Appears in: Australian Book Review , September no. 394 2017; (p. 8-9)

'There has been an argument going on in the Liberal Party about the nature of the Menzies heritage – was Robert Menzies, the founder of the modern party, a liberal or a conservative? Notably absent from this discussion has been the national figure who was the first leader of a united anti-Labor party and who also happens to have been a father of Federation, Alfred Deakin. If our politicians still read books – and sometimes one does wonder – Judith Brett’s new biography, The Enigmatic Mr Deakin, should be required reading. As Brett has pointed out, the minority governments of the Federation’s first decade were extraordinarily productive in laying the legislative foundations of the new Commonwealth, in stark contrast to the parliamentary paralysis of recent years.' (Introduction)

Wily Statesman All but Forgotten Troy Bramston , 2017 single work review essay
— Appears in: The Weekend Australian , 16 September 2017; (p. 20)

'A few weeks ago I climbed a creaking staircase and walked along the corridor­ to the old banquet hall at the majestic 19th-century Shamrock Hotel in Bendigo, outside Melbourne. Today, it is a popular spot for wedding­ receptions. But it was here in 1898 that Alfred Deakin delivered a mesmerising speech that galvanised national politics.' (Introduction)

Success Dogged Him Mark McKenna , 2017 single work essay
— Appears in: The Monthly , September no. 137 2017; (p. 52-53)

'Writing biography,” as Judith Brett confides in the opening pages of The Enigmatic Mr Deakin  (Text; $49.99), “is an invasive business, and perilous”. Sifting through the “surviving evidence” for “plausible paths”, the challenges are daunting: separating myth from fact, establishing intimacy and retaining distance, liberating and controlling the subject’s voice, being fearless in judgement while maintaining fairness and compassion, embroidering the private and public lives, retrieving life both as it was lived (a phantom) and as it was remembered - and, finally, deciding whether or not to break free from the tidal force of chronology. There are as many ways to write biography as there are to live.'  (Introduction)

The Enigmatic Mr Deakin By Judith Brett James Walter , 2018 single work review
— Appears in: Australian Journal of Politics & History , March vol. 64 no. 1 2018; (p. 144-145)

'Alfred Deakin, thrice prime minister in the first Commonwealth decade, was unusually gifted and complex — indeed, enigmatic. Earlier analysts have presented multiple facets of this intriguing figure. Walter Murdoch’s “sketch” (1923) captured Deakin’s charismatic appeal, but not the mixed reactions of his contemporaries; John La Nauze produced a meticulous account of the federal political career (1965), but skimmed Deakin’s formative period in colonial politics and ignored the challenges of his inner life and religion; Al Gabay gave us some grasp of the “mystic” Deakin’s religious and spiritual dimensions (1992); and John Rickard provided an engaging interpretation of the “family romance” from which this cosseted prodigy emerged (1996). ' (Introduction)

Last amended 17 Oct 2018 11:01:45
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