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on October 23, 2007
This book will remind you that politicians and businesses are crooked everywhere, that the indigenous always get screwed, and that little countries are often mistreated by their larger "friends." Pilger is ferocious and he is happily much more intellectually honest than say, Michael Moore. His socialist hopes for Australia seem dated considering the country's amazing financial success under Mr. Howard, but his fears of media concentration and the purchase of influence seem particularly timely. Pilger makes a strong argument that Australia's relationships with Britain and the USA are coercive and exploitative. The thoughtful reader will find themselves re-examining the nature of the Alliance and "special relationship" and what these ought to be like.
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on January 18, 2011
"A Secret Country" examines controversial issues that need adressing in not only Australia but most of the world: genocide, public amnesia, the worth of capitalism, political corruption, unemployment, media manipulation by not only governments but private enterprise, and most importantly, man's inhumanity to man.

Pilger's intention for writing this book is clear: to explode the myths Australia adopted, and by doing so, drag the Australian psyche through a kind of confrontational therapy. Australian's finding their "true identitiy" through the examination of her past is the only way for the country, "To break free from our imperial past; and for us, like everyone else, breaking free is our only future."

Two of the most powerful chapters examines the savage genocide of the true Australian's, the Aboriginals, is a fact that most white Australians are aware of but refuse to think or talk about, and continue to turn a blind eye.

The most controversial issue of white oppression is Aboriginal "deaths in custody," Pilger writes, "Black Australians continue to die in custody on an average of about one death every fourteen days."

A Royal Commision was formed which made 339 recomendations, but after the fog cleared, so to speak, the bottom line, Pilger writes, "There was no call for criminal charges and not a single conclusion of foul play in cases that went back nine years." There is certainly "something rotten in Denmark." (From Hamlet)

There are many other issue raised in this text and anyone interested, will find this book both fascinating and terribly disturbing.
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on December 28, 2014
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on March 21, 2007
In order to gain a critial understanding of this book it is important to understand the genre of writing it typifies. Succinctly put, true to its journalistic origins, it is close to the thick description of an ethnographer, but lacking any of the associated methods or comparative data which would have helped to contextualise the claims. Along with other contemporary practitioners of this dubious art, such as Bill Bryson for example, once having read Pilger, one is simply left wondering about the clear (over) reliance on anecdotal evidence. How representative are the claims? Is Pilger any more insightful, or rather less glib and superficial, than the object of his critique i.e. those who have a vested interest in preserving/marketing the officially sanctioned national mythologies of Australia?

Judged by this criteria, Pilger is unsuccessful in his endeavours. A more useful starting point would be to question the extent to which Australian society is the product of an internal developmental process. Some data for contextualising the country in such global terms can, for example, be found in the excellent comparative study, "How Australia Compares". Complementary to this piece, a more sophisticated [than Pilger]theoretical attempt to flesh out the social forces shaping Australia can generally be found in the work of sociologist Peter Beilharz. For an informative attempt to weigh up the extent of any ideological manipulation of Australian history, it is worth checking out the writings of Stuart MacIntyre, including the co-edited volume, "The History Wars". Finally, a search for Elaine Thompson's research on Australian egalitarianism would assist in rounding out a critical understanding of this important topic.

My concern is that without the benefit of understanding causation, process etc, readily available in these aforementioned works, Pilger by extension leaves his readers with nothing other than the cliched inference that all countries attempt to suppress secrets/social divisions for the sake of the upkeep of their nationalism. But in the final analysis, how informative are these kinds of generality, really?

Or rather, to turn against Pilger the kind of simplistic analogy frequently deployed by journalists of his ilk, one might conclude that he has succeeded only in holding a magnifying glass up to his topic . What is clearly needed though is a more penetrating x-ray vision.
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on January 12, 1999
As is so often the case with Pilgers writings, his excellent research into the origins of Australian society is lost in hearsay and unverified gossip. At times the book represents little more than an expanded version of "Who Weekly".
Perhaps more exasperating is the underlying disquiet that Pilger expresses about Australian society in general. Like other former Australians (Germaine Greer etc) Pilger has become content to sit comfortably at home in England critising a society in which he has not truely participated for 20 years. No number of smiling photos in the outback, or wistful stories of childhood in Bondi will disguise the underlying fact that he is still stung by 60's Australian society, and apparently believes that little has changed here since that time.
The timely revelation of decades of abuse against indigenous Australians was skillfully and appropriately composed, but much of the rest of the book is grossly self indulgant
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on June 11, 1999
Mythology, falsehood, prejudice and spite masquerading as history. Pilger never lets the facts influence his distorted ideology. As journalist and a PhD in History I find it insulting to my discipline.
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on January 8, 2001
I guess if it smells like a conspiracy, looks like a conspiracy, sounds like a conspiracy, well it must be the truth.
Apparently, Australian politics throughout the 80's was held together by a bunch of 'mates'. The rule of the fat!
Everyone was a mate - politicians, business leaders, trade unionists. This would make Australia the friendliest country in the world! Not the worst.
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