What they’re saying about ‘A Coup in Canberra’

“The historical and political ride of the decade” – Bob Carr

 “The book is totally unpredictable, shot through with zany and erudite qualities. Like a river in Australia’s tropical north, it overflows its banks in all directions. But any reader should fasten their seat-belt, because this is the historical and political ride of the decade, reviving this flawed, quirky, curious Australian leader, John Grey Gorton.” – Bob Carr, Australia’s Minister for Foreign Affairs (2012-2013), NSW Senator and longest-serving Premier of NSW (1995-2005). Married to Malaysian-born Helena Carr, a successful businesswoman

“Only one of Australia’s great political story-tellers could finally reveal the inside story of one of Australia’s most overlooked and misunderstood prime ministers.  An intriguing political whodunit written with Alex’s trademark wit, wisdom and historical detail.” – Kerry-Anne Walsh, former journalist, political commentator and author of the award-winning The Stalking of Julia Gillard. Founder of KA Communications, she now devotes herself to advocating for under-privileged public interest groups

“Don’t be misled that this entertaining tome is just about John Gorton. In fact there are whole chapters that are a captivating read, but mention Gorton only in passing. It is more accurate to describe it as an interpretation of Australian and world history in the 20th century through the eyes of Alex Mitchell. It is a wonderful read – refreshing, at times outrageous, and often very amusing. I highly recommend it.” – Colleen Ryan, journalist, author, US and China correspondent and the first woman to edit The Australian Financial Review

“In his rollicking recollection-cum-historical record, Alex Mitchell reveals how exactly an elected Prime Minister was no match for the cabal of Mass Murdoch, CIA Director Richard Helms, ESSO-BHP, Pig-Iron Bob and the Melbourne Club, who left their dirtiest work to the ‘slimy white things that crawl out of sewers,’ as Gorton called journalists.” – Humphrey McQueen, Brisbane-born writer, historian, activist, poet and economist

“With inimitable forensic skills and mastery of detail, Alex Mitchell crafts an engaging history of Prime Minister John Gorton’s colourful life and significant achievements. This political thriller keeps readers waiting for the story’s final chords – another intriguing Canberra coup.” – Professor Stuart Rees AM, founder of the Sydney Peace Prize, academic, human rights activist and author. In 2005 he was honoured for “service to international relations” by the Australian Government

“An original and quirky look (this is Alex Mitchell, after all) at an equally quirky and original Prime Minister, who will be unknown to most young Australians casting their first votes this year. Looking ahead at the dreary crew the Liberals plan to parade before us in a few months, it’s hard to imagine that the dry, lifeless party of Scott Morrison could have produced such a lively, determined and colourful leader as John Grey Gorton. Who, let’s face it, scared the pants off them.” – Tony Clifton, journalist and war reporter, born in Benalla in country Victoria, now resident in his beloved Collingwood. For 40 years he was a writer, editor and bureau chief for the Melbourne Herald, London Sunday Times and Newsweek.

“A Coup in Canberra is bursting with illuminations of recent but faintly remembered history. John Gorton was Australia’s 19th Prime Minister and there have been 12 since, none as raw, craggy and rambunctious as Jolly John. No wonder the Liberal Party got out its sharp cutlery. Alex Mitchell brilliantly unravels the forces that shaped Gorton – including a dismembered upbringing, Shore and Geelong Grammar, Oxford, Spain, Nazis, the war, Menzies, women and booze – not necessarily in that order. His career played out against the backdrop of the Cold War, Vietnam, Harold Holt and Murdoch, with spirited moments at Chequers nightclub and the US embassy. Engrossing … Sparkling … Unputdownable.” – Richard Ackland, multi-award-winning journalist, lawyer and founder-publisher of Law Press of Australia, and offshoots, Justinian, the Gazette of Law and Journalism, and 500 Words. He is co-winner of a Gold Walkley for exposing the cash-for-comment rorts. In 1998-99, he presented Media Watch for ABC-TV before becoming a columnist for The Sydney Morning Herald. In September 2016 he was awarded a Doctor of Letters by Macquarie University, and is now Legal Affairs Editor of The Saturday Paper.

“Alex Mitchell has brought to the surface an important and submerged part of Australian history – the political assassination of John Gorton, the only Liberal Party Prime Minister to be ousted by his own party while in office. The viciousness of the campaign against Gorton made more recent leadership spills seem like 20 lashes with a peacock feather.” – Mike Smith OAM, former editor, foreign correspondent and investigative reporter for The Age, Life Member of the Melbourne Press Club and creator of the Australian Media Hall of Fame. Joint owner of crisis management firm Inside PR.

A Coup in Canberra brilliantly identifies the omissions and misrepresentations of John Gorton’s life and premiership, and expertly unravels the forces behind the scenes: the bullying from London and Washington, and the misinformation and disinformation, forces still at large today. Mitchell’s colourful and adventurous subject also allowed him to draw on his own expertise, and revisit the social and political convulsions that shaped the 20th century. Coup is a tour de force, and also a great read.” – Peter Pringle, journalist and author, former foreign correspondent for the Sunday Times, the Observer and the Independent. Author of several books including Those Are Real Bullets, Aren’t They? on Bloody Sunday with Philip Jacobson, The Nuclear Barons with Jim Spigelman, former Chief Justice of NSW, and Big Tobacco at the Bar of Justice.


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