October 12, 2016
‘The great Australian silence’. It’s a phrase I’ve heard, referring to our country’s whitewashing of its history with its Indigenous people, but one I’ve never really understood. Having read Stan Grant’s Talking to My Country, I feel like I’ve begun to amend my ignorance.
Grant is a Wiradjuri man and journalist who has worked for numerous Australian news networks, as well as internationally for CNN. He has long been an advocate for Aboriginal issues, but has risen in prominence this year on the back of a powerful speech at the Ethics Centre IQ2 Debate in January 2016.
Talking To My Country is a brave, honest and raw book that communicates how it feels to be Aboriginal. It covers, briefly, the history of European and Aboriginal contact: the occupation of land, the genocidal government policies, the theft of children, the sundering of culture, the racism, both official and societal, that plagues Australia to this day. It talks, too, of how the dominant narrative ignores the many atrocities committed by the British during the frontier wars. Read the rest of this entry »
January 29, 2012
A well-written biography of an old-school Yakuza, providing an unvarnished account of the underworld and the underclass in early 20th century Japan.
What I loved
A lot of history focuses on leaders or the elite, whose names are committed to the ages by circumstance, ability or privilege. Confessions of a Yakuza provides a window into the lives of the other half: the poor, the outcasts and the criminals, who inhabit a world where the importance of guts and luck are less veiled, and where it is harder to hold illusions about human nature.
It is the biography of Ichiji Eiji, as told to a country doctor, Junichi Saga. Eiji is not an overly complicated character: he is tough, amoral and self-serving. He upholds a sense of yakuza honour, but mostly out of self-interest. At the age he recounts his tale, he is unconflicted about his past and given to only occasional reflection. He also has a weakness for woman, which, throughout his storied career, causes him to lop off a few fingers in penance, as per the yakuza code. Read the rest of this entry »