About Jacquie

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Jacqueline Kent is… a writer of non-fiction and biography, fiction, general articles and literary journalism. Her working background includes radio interviewing, print journalism, radio and TV scriptwriting, editing books, ghostwriting, teaching editing and creative writing, and arts administration.
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Beatrice Davis, 1902-1992, was Australia’s most acclaimed book editor, the ‘backroom girl of Australian literature’.

As general editor at Angus and Robertson from the late thirties to the early seventies, she nurtured the talents of a host of well known writers, including Thea Astley, Miles Franklin, Xavier Herbert, Ruth Park, Hal Porter and Patricia Wrightson. Her position as a judge of several major prizes, including the prestigious Miles Franklin Award, reinforced her pivotal role in Australia’s literary culture a role that saw her by turns respected, feared, courted and berated.

Jacqueline Kent’s compulsively readable, erudite and witty biography portrays a woman whose passion for living was as great as her passion for Australian literature.

WINNER 2002 National Biography Award

‘A sharp-eyed, warm-hearted portrayal .. this book succeeds on every level’ The Age

‘Adroitly written, well structured and entertaining’ Network Review of Books

‘A lucid, well researched and essential literary biography’ National Library of Australia

Review of Take Your Best Shot ...

This succinct, clear-sighted review of Julia Gillard’s three years as prime minister suggests history will judge her leadership more kindly than she was judged during her time in power.

An add-on to Kent’s 2009 biography The Making of Julia Gillard [in fact, it’s a completion of the 2010 update The Making of Julia Gillard Prime Minister], this gives us a portrait of a woman of composure and resilience gifted with an ability to get things done in the face of overwhelming odds. Despite hostility from the media and opposition, and hamstrung by a hung parliament, Gillard achieved the highest rate of passing legislation of any prime minister in our history.

Her refusal, Kent says, to bag the media — especially the unrelenting negativity of the Murdoch press — ‘verged on the heroic’. Kent doesn’t shy away from Gillard’s weaknesses — ‘misguided communication, less than adroit political timing and some decisions that needlessly antagonised sections of the electorate’ — but keeps them in perspective.

Fiona Capp, Sydney Morning Herald, September 14-15, 2013: Pick of the Week

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Take Your Best Shot cover

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No Australian prime minister has had to face such a difficult and challenging political environment as did Julia Gillard. Her impressive legislative record was overshadowed by pitched battles with jealous rivals and a remarkably hostile media, as well as her own struggles to communicate effectively with the public. Following her successful The Making of Julia Gillard, award-winning biographer Jacqueline Kent analyses our first woman prime minister’s tumultuous term in office, drawing on a range of views and including an exclusive new interview with Gillard herself. Take Your Best Shot is an insightful, revelatory and immensely readable account of Julia Gillard’s leadership – and its abrupt ending.

 

 

 

 

Independent? Seriously?

It’s axiomatic that if anyone or anything has to insist on a particular quality, they no longer have it. (Stale biscuits are called fresh on the packet, adulterous spouses insist on their fidelity.) At the moment, nowhere is this truer than in the case of the Sydney Morning Herald. Having over the past few months joined a large part of the mainstream media in helping Tony Abbott run his election campaign, its masthead states in tasteful capitals: ‘Independent. Always’.

For me the last straw, almost, came on Monday 26 August. Kevin Rudd, reported to have abandoned a briefing on the situation in Syria so he could film an episode of the ABC-TV show Kitchen Cabinet, described this as ‘100 per cent false’ and said that if the Herald had bothered to contact his office, they would have confirmed this. The episode was reported under the headline ‘The dummy spit’.

Which is manifestly unfair, not to mention a bit on the trivial side. Not that I have any brief for Kevin Rudd: the events of the last three years have clearly shown the kind of man he is. If he’d given the focus and commitment to governing that he did to undermining his own party and Julia Gillard — aided and abetted by the media, including the SMH —  the ALP would never have needed to replace him as PM three years ago.

But saddest is the decline of the Herald, the paper that my Dad, and others of his generation, treated with the respect accorded Holy Writ. Now it follows the Murdoch press down the rabbit hole of inconsequentiality:  it gives few details of party policies, very little analysis. It’s all bells and whistles and photo opportunities. And if you should want to know how and why this has happened, I recommend Colleen Ryan’s splendid The Rise and Fall of Fairfax. Salutary reading.

 

Dr Evil and Team Rudd

My review of Kerry-Ann Walsh’s The Stalking of Julia Gillard in the Australian Book Review