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Quarterly Essay 47 Political Animal: The Making of Tony Abbott [Kindle Edition]

David Marr
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Tony Abbott is the most successful Opposition leader of the last forty years, but he has never been popular. Now Australians want to know: what kind of man is he, and how would he perform as prime minister?

In this dramatic portrait, David Marr shows that as a young Catholic warrior at university, Abbott was already a brutally effective politician. He later led the way in defeating the republic and, as the self-proclaimed “political love child” of John Howard, rose rapidly in the Liberal Party. His reputation as a head-kicker and hard-liner made him an unlikely leader, but when the time came, his opposition to the emissions trading scheme proved decisive.

Marr shows that Abbott thrives on chaos and conflict. Part fighter and part charmer, he is deeply religious and deeply political. What happens, then, when his values clash with his need to win? This is the great puzzle of his career, but the closer he is to taking power, the more guarded he has become.

“Since witnessing the Hewson catastrophe at first hand, Abbott has worn a mask. He has grown and changed. Life and politics have taught him a great deal. But how this has shaped the fundamental Abbott is carefully obscured. What has been abandoned? What is merely hidden on the road to power? What makes people so uneasy about Abbott is the sense that he is biding his time, that there is a very hard operator somewhere behind that mask, waiting for power.” – David Marr, Political Animal

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Shallow Man September 17, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Firstly, a brief word about using Kindle to access "The Quarterly Essay." I found the experience to be entirely positive. I downloaded the journal while travelling overseas. Cheaper than a hard copy and, obviously, immediately available. Highly recommended.

As to the edition covering Tony Abbott, I found myself quite engrossed by David Marr's work. Arguably, little new about the man was revealed except the allegation of violence whilst Abbott was a student politician. However, the article paints the picture of a shallow man. Despite being a Rhodes Scholar, Abbott does not present as a man of intellect. He seems particularly unread and totally devoid of big ideas. Instead, we see a man simply grasping for power. While Abbott's lunge for power may come to pass, at the time of writing, there can be no guarantees. Abbott might yet still snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

David Marr is to be commended for his efforts. He has sought to unravel some of the enigmatic characteristics of Tony Abbott. This is absolutely essentially. In any modern democracy, it is always positive that we gain a good understanding of those who seek to represent us. David Marr's work has revealed a man of little depth. It will be interesting to see how the forthcoming months pan out.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars very interesting May 2, 2013
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Great read about what events and decisions have shaped Tony Abbott. It does take quite a level of concentration to read this essay but if want to know more about Tony Abbott and who has influenced him and what motivates him its a decent read.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Tony a man whose yime is now gone..... December 8, 2012
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It worries me that such a political animal could become the prime minister of Australia.
Im not sure that he has much compassion for the ordinary person.
He seems fixed on replaying the record of the Howard Years which were not in the time of our present world.
Genuine cpmpassion is not there - only winning and wanting to be king of the castle
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Abbott may have what it takes to be a successful PM October 29, 2012
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Last Sunday I had the pleasure of lunching with the former British treasurer, Norman Lamont. During the meal, he revealed that the current British Prime Minister, David Cameron, was his former speechwriter. Naturally, we asked what Lamont thought of Cameron. His reply was interesting. He said: "A British reporter recently asked me the same question on TV. I told him that David was very bright, very articulate and very keen to become prime minister. On the other hand, even though we worked together for some time, I still do not know what David's convictions are, and I don't think he knows either."

Lamont then went to say that shortly after speaking to the reporter, he met Cameron himself, who told Lamont his answer was spot-on and admitted he was not sure what his convictions were.

This got me thinking about Tony Abbott. He is intelligent and articulate and that necessary EQ component of all leaders, the desire to win (which in this case is becoming the prime minister) and spends much time putting down his opponent. And in case anyone thinks this only occurs in Australia, may I suggest they watch the US presidential debates.

However, Lamont raised an interesting idea: whether a prime minister (or any leader) can be deemed to be successful unless she or he has convictions. I have just finished reading journalist David Marr's recent essay The Making of Tony Abbott. Marr is bemused by Abbott - he tries to understand what makes him tick but fails.

His essay focuses on Abbott's nurture but spends little time on his nature. He spends an inordinate amount of time on Abbott's time at university. However what you do get from reading the essay is that Abbott is a conviction politician.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Makings of Abbot October 9, 2012
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As usual David Marr produces a captivating read. An interesting insight into the formation of the conservatives conservative. According to this account, and I have no reason to believe otherwise, Abbot likes to root himself in the dogmatism of catholicism and the ancient regime, while attempting to straddle his world of values and politics.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Abbott and leadership October 8, 2012
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A good insight into the person who may well be the next leader of Australia. Much more impartial than I had expected. Very readable but you need to have an idea on Australian politics and history to get the most out of it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Book October 7, 2012
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This is a very well written and researched book, presenting a balanced and thoughtful assessment of Tony Abbott. Although some reviewers and most members of the media who have read it have focussed largely on the revelations about Abbott's aggressive behavior during his days as a student, the most important insights seemed to me to be those about what drives him and who have most influenced his views on moral and political issues. These are the factors which will determine what he would do if he were to find himself to be Prime Minister next year.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Politics Tony Vs Values Tony: the showdown September 27, 2012
Format:Audible Audio Edition
His observation of the relationship which commenced between Abbott and the (to become) shock jock Alan Jones after Abbott's winning of the seat of Warringah in 1993 (p41, I'm not spoiling it) is an example of both the humour and, more importantly, the correctness without being politically correct that Marr can risk as a very open commentator. The transformation that he subtly charts in Abbott's choices, in particular the extent to which they are influenced by day-to-day politics or by his values, is reminiscent of many politicians, notably Kevin Rudd in Marr's earlier Quarterly Essay and the John Howard in the biography by Errington and Van Onselen. That Marr nominates Politics Abbott or Values Abbott as the author of various decisions is none too subtle, but the evolution of this dichotomy is the story Marr tracks skilfully. This is a strength of Marr as a biographer - that he achieves this in the brevity of a Quarterly Essay rather than in, say, the luxury of his tomely Patrick White bio, makes this essay all the more a rewarding read.

The Quarterly Essay series is the ideal medium for authors to tap the detail of the rough and tumble of the last few decades of Australian politics, as well as the many other diverse topics they chronicle. Previously, Laura Tingle and David Marr, as political correspondents for much of this period, exemplify this. Marr utilises his credentials to build this essay up to a political crescendo as the Politics and Values Abbotts alternatively seize the moment against a minority government. Alas, history has not revealed the denouement, so neither could Marr, even if Abbott's interview had allowed quotations.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars If they had only known they were to get the ...
If they had only known they were to get the DLP dressed up as Cardinal Pell as the next PM
Published 26 days ago by terry hilsz
5.0 out of 5 stars Serious journalism
There is not much of it about these days, but this is serious, thoughtful and well researched journalism. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Ben
2.0 out of 5 stars A biased view from the author.
I thought the bias of the author showed out. He went in with the pre-disposition that Tony Abbott was not up to the task.
Published 19 months ago by Barry
5.0 out of 5 stars unputdownable
david marr does it again. beautifully written. and very frightening. required reading for anyone who seeks to understand this real prospect of a PM
Published 23 months ago by S G BURKE
5.0 out of 5 stars Compelling read.
A well written essay that will help people to understand what drives Mr. Abbbott's decision making, whether you agree with him or not.
Published 23 months ago by Autumn Nocturne
5.0 out of 5 stars Well, written and incisive study of the man who would be PM
Marr is a great writer and this eassy is compelling reading. In this essay Marr reveals to us the ambitions and motivations of the man whose desperate desire is to be the next... Read more
Published 24 months ago by Amazon Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars Balanced Appraisal
I found this essay interesting, well written an well balanced. The fact that David Marr is left-leaning makes this assessment of Tony Abbott's character and past even more... Read more
Published 24 months ago by John Hacking
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