The Enigmatic Mr Deakin by Judith Brett

Cover image of the enigmatic mr deakin

The Enigmatic Mr Deakin by Judith Brett (Text Publishing) 

Judges' Comments 

Alfred Deakin is one of the most significant figures in Australian political history, one of the instigators of a federation of the separate British colonies in the Southern Hemisphere (including New Zealand, until they withdrew), and the second Prime Minister of the newly federated nation. Yet he was also a complex and contradictory man, an intensely religious person who believed in spiritualism and attended seances, a politician who did not like politics, an orator with the skills of an actor.

Judith Brett has produced a major work in the tradition of large-scale Australian political biographies, bringing a fresh eye and a historian’s authority to a well-recorded life. This is not hagiography. The author is unflinching in her analysis of Deakin’s devious politics and frequently grubby finances. Yet he emerges as a giant. The Enigmatic Mr Deakin is a beautifully organised biography with a strong narrative drive and a finely judged perspective of what mattered in those chaotic, ever-shifting political times.