Gideon Haigh In conversation with

28 Jul 2021

ANU Meet The Author Series

Gideon Haigh and Frank Bongiorno will be in conversation on Gideon’s new book, The Brilliant Boy: Doc Evatt and the Great Australian Dissent

‘Doc’ Evatt is mainly remembered now as the hapless and divisive opposition leader during the long ascendancy of his great rival Sir Robert Menzies. Yet long before we spoke of ‘public intellectuals’, Evatt was one: a dashing advocate, an inspired jurist, an outspoken opinion maker, one of our first popular historians and the nation’s foremost champion of modern art.

Through Evatt’s innovative and empathic decision in Chester v the Council of Waverley Municipality, which argued for the law to acknowledge inner suffering as it did physical injury, Gideon Haigh rediscovers the most brilliant Australian of his day, a patriot with a vision of his country charting its own path and being its own example – the same attitude he brought to being the only Australian president of the UN General Assembly, and instrumental in the foundation of Israel.

A feat of remarkable historical perception, deep research and masterful storytelling, The Brilliant Boy confirms Gideon Haigh as one of our finest writers of non-fiction. It shows Australia in a rare light, as a genuinely clever country prepared to contest big ideas and face the future confidently.

‘This new biography of HV Evatt lifts the lid on his early life as a brilliant barrister and creative Justice of the High Court of Australia. It reveals the wellsprings that gave birth to his humanitarian and internationalist values that later helped in the creation of the United Nations. It helps to explain Evatt’s valiant defence of liberty in fighting off the attempt to ban the communists in Australia. We need to constantly renew our acquaintance with such values. This book reminds us of Evatt’s flawed genius but deep motivations, lest we ever forget.’ The Hon Michael Kirby AC CMG

Gideon Haigh has been a journalist for almost four decades, published more than 40 books and contributed to more than 100 newspapers and magazines. His books include The Cricket Wars, The Summer Game and On Warne (which won numerous prizes) on cricket, and works on BHP, James Hardie and how abortion became legal in Australia. His book The Office: A Hardworking History won the NSW Premier’s Literary Award for Non-Fiction. He has appeared widely on radio and TV.

Frank Bongiorno, AM, FRHistS, FASSA, FAHA, is Professor of History in the College of Arts and Social Sciences, ANU. He is the bestselling author of the award-winning books The Sex Lives of Australians: A History and The Eighties: The Decade That Transformed Australia and a regular contributor to media outlets, such as Inside Story and The Conversation.

John Kerin, AO, AM, FTSE, who held several senior ministerial positions in the Labor government of Bob Hawke, will give the vote of thanks.

In accordance to the current COVID-19 guidelines in the ACT, attendees may have to wear masks to attend the event. Attendees are requested to review and follow ACT Health guidelines before attending the event.

6:00 pm

T2, Kambri Cultural Centre

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