Book review

June 13, 2018

The former Liberal Party Trade Minister’s autobiography explores his troubles with depression.

Black Dog Daze: Public Life, Private Demons

— Andrew Robb

In adult life the author became a victim of depression which manifested itself in the morning hours, leaving him feeling unable to cope with anybody or anything. Then eventually the mood would lift, and his usual dynamic style clicked in.

After several failed trials, the condition was treated successfully with drugs, thus allowing him to to get on with life.

So, reverting to standard autobiography, he tells us his story.

His childhood was fairly tough, with parents who worked hard in physically demanding jobs, and who loved their children. His schooling was also tough, but he coped with it and went on to tertiary-level education and good jobs.

Clearly he was clever, and he eventually found a challenging niche in politics.

The book is a detailed account of his various positions in national politics, using every conceivable effort to either unseat a government or get another into power.

He was a strongly-committed big-L Liberal involved in either the attempted appointment of prime ministers, or the demise of those currently in power.

Although he rarely goes into specific ploys, it is clear that some decidedly clandestine tactics were used, and no doubt still are by the power-brokers of today.

Electronic tools were mighty useful, especially where speed was needed to suppress or emphasise information when required.

Although the author does not always say it in so many words, the reader is left in no doubt about who he admired and who he did not in the highest echelons of business and politics. He tries to be fair.

He acknowledges the importance of his family in his success, and interestingly, he credits his battle with depression for giving him the inner strength and possibly the power to succeed in his forays into big business and the world of Canberra.

Inevitably a lot of ego, but an interesting read.

— Lee Stephenson

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