Labour History: A Journal of Labour and Social History

“Our Side of the Story”: The Political Memoirs of the Rudd-Gillard Labor Cabinet

Labour History: A Journal of Labour and Social History (2021), 120, (1), 69–94.

Abstract

Political memoirs and autobiographies are an increasingly prolific form of political and historiographical communication. Few attempts have been made to explain why Australian politicians have written these books, beyond the observation that they can be self-serving narratives. This paper identifies some of the major causes of and motivations for political memoir writing in Australia, adopting the Rudd-Gillard Labor cabinet as a collective case study. Using a combination of empirical, literary and oral research methodologies, I argue that political memoirs are manifestations of political and historiographical purpose, written in response to and enabled by particular political and market environments. This case study explains the rapid proliferation of political memoirs at a particular moment in the mid-2010s, but also leads toward a more structural explanation as to why these books have been published prolifically in Australia since the mid-1990s. Politicians have considered themselves antagonised by hostile political and media narratives and, following internal and electoral defeat, have been presented with publishing opportunities with which to tell their side of the story or, as they see it, to “set the record straight.”

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Author details

Black, Joshua