BOOK REVIEW: The Kingdom and the Quarry: China, Australia, Fear and Greed (David Uren, Black Inc.)

Australia’s relationship with China is at the forefront of public discourse yet it is portrayed in wildly different ways. On the one hand China is the foundation of our prosperity and on the other it is a threat to our very way of life. David Uren shows how the actions and policies of our business and political leaders have swung between these polar opinions. It’s a complex relationship in which economic and strategic imperatives intertwine and often conflict, which is further complicated by our partnership with the US. Uren’s book traces the often rocky path of Sino-Australian relations and is full of insider detail, including what the Chinese really thought of Kevin Rudd’s language skills. The character sketches of Australian and Chinese politicians and business leaders are astute and sharply drawn. Uren shows that the biggest source of friction has been caused by mutual suspicion and distrust, and that this still threatens to derail the relationship. This is a fascinating book that is sure to get a lot of press. It will appeal to a broad audience but especially readers of quality Australian current affairs books, such as Peter Hartcher’s The Sweet Spot and David Marr’s Panic. Uren is a journalist for the Australian and author (with Lenore Taylor) of Shitstorm: Inside Labor’s Darkest Days.

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 April/May issue of Bookseller+Publisher Magazine. View more pre-publication reviews here.