Recommendation: It’s not like there’s a lot of judicial biography to choose from…
Where to read: Light summer reading for the legally obsessed
Read with: Tea**
In brief: This is not so much biography as hagiography. Indeed, one begins to suspect rather early in the piece that the subject had a certain degree of editorial control.
Let’s be honest, the title does rather give the game away… this is a kind of literary black and white photograph or bronzed mirror. I’d say it pulls its punches but that would imply that there was anything vaguely resembling a punch to pull. Written to flatter, it displays a remarkable lack of critical thought – I would suggest that you check your legally trained, enquiring mind at the door for this one.
It also goes further than just making him look good, mounting a staunch defence of judicial conservativism and, for that matter, social conservatism. The latter half in particular is effectively just a mouthpiece for his views on the horrifying dangers of Australian republicanism with some snarky comments about Mabo thrown in. It’s also hilariously pro-Queensland, not precisely surprising considering the funding source, but quite funny to read, and it name drops like no one’s business.
The real interest, at least for a young’n, comes when you read it as a historical artefact, a snapshot of public discourse and the legal profession in the ‘90s.
**In honour of the Tea Club.