BOOK REVIEW: The Sweet Spot (Peter Hartcher, Black Inc.)

Peter Hartcher’s new book is a 21st-century reply to Donald Horne’s classic The Lucky Country. Hartcher argues that while Australia enjoys unprecedented prosperity, security and freedom, this has very little to do with luck. Rather, what transformed Australia from the world’s biggest prison into one of the most desirable countries in which to live was courageous and prudent governance. Hartcher cites the economic reforms started by Hawke and Keating and continued by Howard and Costello, which set up Australia as a social and economic model for the rest of the world, and helped the Rudd government to steer Australia through the financial crisis. Yet despite their success, Howard and Rudd lost their jobs with little thought given to their sound economic management, and Gillard and Abbot’s embrace of populism could bring this ‘Australian Model’ undone, suggests Hartcher. This is another cracking book from publisher Black Inc., which will appeal to readers of Hugh McKay and Bob Ellis. Hartcher, a well-known journalist and political and international editor of the Sydney Morning Herald, should attract plenty of reviews and media coverage. This should be a big seller in nonfiction this Christmas.

Dave Martus is the manager of Dymocks Neutral Bay in Sydney. He has many years’ experience as a bookseller and buyer in Australia and the UK. This review first appeared in the November 2011 issue of Bookseller+Publisher, available online here.