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ANZSOG’s Summer reading guide: 5 books to read this holiday season

14 December 2017

News and media


Summer is here, and for those lucky enough to be taking some time off, it’s the perfect opportunity to sink your teeth into a good book.

Here are a few options from the ANZSOG team, to help you make the important decision.

Ken Smith – ANZSOG Dean and CEO

Title: 4321

Author: Paul Auster

What’s it about?

It’s a big novel (more than 1000 pages) tracing the lives of one character, Archie Ferguson in the post-war years in the US. The story traces different life possibilities of a young Jewish boy traversing the family, personal and political events that shape a life and its dramatically different courses and consequences.

Why should we read it?

It is an excellent piece of fiction from a great American author. It’s great if you’re interested in identity and personal meaning, and how they are impacted by events beyond one’s control.

Where can I get it?

Dare I say, at any good book store.

Catherine Althaus – ANZSOG Associate Dean

Title: Reluctant Representatives: Blackfella Bureaucrats Speak in Australia’s North

Author: Elizabeth Ganter 

What’s it about?

A critical analysis of representative bureaucracy as it applies to Aboriginal public servants in the Northern Territory. Elizabeth Ganter exposes massive tensions in the concept of representation as it applies to our First Peoples. The experience of Indigenous public servants leads Ganter (2016:20) to conclude unequivocally that governments are in an impossible position.

Why should we read it?

The book is amongst the first sustained studies of the unique role of Indigenous public servants in the Australian setting. Public service commissions across Australia have sought laudably to ensure public services ‘mirror’ the people they serve. They set targets to ensure representation but along the way fail to articulate how representation is meant to operate in practice. Ganter’s research – providing poignant and frank accounts from some 76 individuals from the Territory – shows that there is far more to the story.

Where can I get it?

Available here.

Professor Michael Mintrom – Academic Director of ANZSOG’s Executive Master of Public Administration

Title:The Captain Class: The Hidden Force That Creates the World’s Greatest Teams

Author: Sam Walker 

What’s it about?

The founding editor of theWall Street Journal’s sports section asked: What are the greatest sports teams of all time? And, what did the best teams have in common? Walker found that each of these teams had the same kind of captain, and those people exhibited characteristics like determination, emotional control, empathy, and tactical savvy. 

Why should we read it?

This is a great read. It’s perfect for anyone interested in leadership, talent development – and sports! – this is a great read. 

Where can I get it?

Available from Booktopia and Amazon.com.

Sophie Yates – ANZSOG Research Fellow

Title: Curing Affluenza: How to Buy Less Stuff and Save the World

Author: Richard Denniss

What’s it about?

Richard Denniss explores ‘affluenza’ – the dissatisfaction we experience with our wasteful consumerist lifestyles

Why should we read it?

This book provides a great opportunity to reflect on the difference between consumerism (the love of buying things, which always needs feeding) and materialism (valuing things we already have) – and in the process, think about how we can make better decisions for the world we live in.

Where can we get?

Available here

Ken Smith – ANZSOG Dean and CEO (bonus recommendation)

Title: Without America. Australia in the New Asia (Quarterly essay)

Author: Hugh White

What’s it about?

An analysis of a strategically important topic for Australia, balancing its trade and economic and historic security and defence ties.

Why should we read it?

The Quarterly Essay is always topical and author’s selected provide a thought provoking analysis of their topic. The next issue is Mark McKenna on Australian History.

Where can I get it?

Newsagents or via subscription