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Political Animal: The Making of Tony Abbott

(Quarterly Essay #47)

3.94  ·  Rating details ·  308 ratings  ·  40 reviews
Tony Abbott is the most successful Opposition leader of the last forty years, but he has never been popular. Now Australians want to know: what kind of man is he, and how would he perform as prime minister?

In this dramatic portrait, David Marr shows that as a young Catholic warrior at university, Abbott was already a brutally effective politician. He later led the way in d
Paperback, 135 pages
Published September 2012 by Black Inc.
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3.94  · 
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 ·  308 ratings  ·  40 reviews

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Oct 08, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: biography, politics
Excellant essay by David Marr. He does not seek to torpedo Abbott. This is no way a polemic. It is a measured and reasoned piece of journalism on a divisive political figure who has spent half his life baiting any progressive forces particularly woman and gay rights activists.
Abbott takes his Catholicism seriously and Marr takes him at his word. Marr makes the links between the university politics of the noisy far right Catholic NCC and Abbott's politics. The quixotic defending of unpopular cons
Angela Elizabeth
Sep 17, 2012 rated it really liked it
A brilliant, balanced argument that tries to expose the real Tony Abbott. Marr pulls few cheap shots, his research is exceptional and he doesn't bow to pressure to give a character assassination. Instead, he tries to understand how Abbott functions, both as a politician and a human being. This is not a hatchet job by any stretch. I may not agree with many of Abbott's views and policies, but I feel like I understand them better. Marr has also corrects a number of misplaced assumptions I, and many ...more
Christopher Dean
Sep 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: politics
In "Political Animal", David Marr excels as a long-form reporter.

Contrary to some of the negative opinions expressed by some Good Readers, I found this piece to be very well balanced. So much of what passes for reportage these days is uninformed opinion or unsubstantiated facts and half truths, and so it was with pleasure to see that most of the events depicted in the Essay are fully sourced and footnoted at the end of the document. This, of course, is an important part of the format of the Quar
Lyn Elliott
Mar 03, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone interested in Australian politics
Shelves: biography, australia
Tony Abbott is likely to become Australia's next prime minister when the next Federal election is held later this year. Marr's extended essay on Abbott is lively, well researched and a welcome reminder of what good journalism can be.
In his days as a right wing student activist, Abbott fought for values consistent with his Catholic faith and his first political mentor, Bob Santamaria, a major force on the right of Australian politics in the decades after World War II. The tactics he used then wer
James Purkis Purkis
Oct 02, 2012 rated it really liked it

Another brilliant political biography by David Marr. Like his infamous piece on Kevin Rudd, he is able to remind the reader of what we knew but had forgotten while exposing new truths along the way. His discussion of Values Abbott and Political Abbott should worry the Coalition because Marr has pin pointed the very fears that keep voters from giving Abbott the popularity to ensure victory at the next election. Moreover, he exposes the contradiction at the heart of Abbott: a conviction politician
Oct 16, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Charismatic? Likeable? As true to journalistic impartiality as David Marr's writing presents, I can now substantiate why this man, who we now must call our prime minister, gets under my skin. Whether Values Abbott or Politics Abbott we are and always will be poles apart in our thinking, motivation and vision for Australia and the world. A cringeing yet informative read.
Matt John
Apr 07, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
David Marr’s book has been expanded from the Quarterly Essay of the same name from which it is based. Marr paints a rather disturbing picture of the man who wants to be the next Prime Minister of Australia. From Abbott’s early days at university where he took opposition against the homosexuals and women’s rights (including the now infamous incidents of losing his temper) to his more recent history as member of the Howard government and the current opposition leader. Marr relies on many who have ...more
Sep 09, 2012 rated it really liked it

Interesting. And concerning. As a Christian who believes that people of faith can take their faith into politics, I am not as automatically opposed to 'Values' Tony Abbott as Marr is. But I am saddened that the Catholic values that Abbott is wedded to are the conservative ones we hear from Archbishop Pell, rather than those of Catholic Social Teaching. Of course anyone who follows the Vatican line will oppose the full equality of GLBT people, but at the very least shouldn't we also get some conc
Sean Kennedy
Sep 19, 2012 rated it really liked it
This should be compulsory reading for every Australian. If Abbott wins the next election we're all screwed. The shenanigans of the recently elected Queensland government will pale in comparison.

The sad fact is, however, that this essay will probably only be preaching to the converted and not reaching those it really needs to influence.
Sep 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This is a book that is essential reading for every Australian today. This man may be our next prime minister.
Jun 03, 2013 rated it really liked it
My opinion of Rhodes Scholars is greatly diminished after reading Marr's essay.
Maggie Emmett
Oct 11, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: australian, political
I think David Marr is a great researcher and tries very hard to be be fair and balanced in his approach in this book. He tells Tony Abbott's story in an easily comprehensible and capable manner, leaving plenty of space for the reader to draw their own conclusions. The two Tony's is a neat way to try and present the two versions of the man Marr shows us. It reminds us, of course , of the questions re the REAL Julia.
Having read this first, followed by several articles in The Age and several review
Tim G
Apr 22, 2013 rated it liked it
Perhaps I'm one of the few reviewers to read this book from a conservative viewpoint. I didn't really warm to David Marr's writing style to begin with but he definitely has an agenda here. It seems he's trying to say look at this... see... the man's a monster, but I actually only really came away with an understanding that David Marr has an axe to grind. I guess many of us thought the world was black and white when we were at university - and passions boiled? How things have changed since then! ...more
Jul 19, 2013 rated it liked it
An interesting insight into the Australian leader of the opposition. I didn't really enjoy the construction of this essay. I would have enjoyed the read more if it had been set out in a more linear way, as events took place. At times I found it a little difficult to follow, but the overall insight into the man, Tony Abbott was enlightening and worrisome.
I must admit, I have never really been a fan of the guy, but was interested to read this account to learn more about him and his motivations as
Kathy Fogarty
Sep 29, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I think I hoped for a psychological explanation of Abbott's character. I guess I'm left with the impression that he was idolised within his own family - destined for Pope or Prime Minister according to his mother. Being ordinary was never an option. He was brutal and bigoted at university and his values went out the window if there was ever a clash between politics and values, particularly in his ministerial years. He seems to have taken on all the conservatism of Catholicism and left behind the ...more
Andrew Saul
Dec 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Don't believe any of the tripe that has been printed about this essay. David Marr is fair and balanced in his background to Tony Abbott as you would expect of a journalist of his calibre. Abbott is neither the monster nor saint he is variously portrayed as.

I went into this book not being a fan of his (Abbott) and I came away liking him more than I did. But most importantly I felt I understood him more than I previously had.

Like it or otherwise he is now our PM, so it pays to understand the man
Matt Harris
Sep 12, 2012 rated it really liked it
Interesting account of the man who "would be" if he could be.
Beautifully written, illustrative of the path Tony Abbott took to the Opposition leader - how Santamaria and Howard indelibly shaped him, as well as the Church.

And how he has learned to be more subtle projecting his views and morals in among his policy or politics.

If this is to be the next PM of Australia, it behooves us to get to know him. It will be the Howard years part 2, that's for certain.
Grace Sunflower
Feb 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Dripping with eloquence and wit. Marr's brilliantly entertaining essay exposes how such an unpopular politician has managed to become the Leader of the Opposition via employing two ignoble strategies. Firstly, consistently employing bullying tactics and, secondly, concealing his true beliefs, so as not to alarm voters.
Mark Glidden
Remarkably, this concise overview of Tony Abbott's political career is quite fair. Whilst there is, in certain areas, a distinct leftist bias, "Political Animal" doesn't seek to condemn Abbott as an outdated relic (as does the vile "Tony Abbott: A Man's Man") but nor does it laud him as a statesman extraordinaire.
Benjamin Farr
Excellent analysis of Tony Abbott. I read this long after Tony Abbott won the Prime Ministership, and the words of David Marr almost read as a prophecy. Although this book was written prior to Tony Abbott becoming Australia's Prime Minister, I highly recommend this book and encourage all to read - especially those interested in the man behind the mask. I hope David Marr writes a follow-up book.
Alex Rogers
Feb 16, 2016 rated it it was ok
I tried to get into this, but I'll have to leave the date completed out, as I never got close to finishing it. I realised only a few pages in that my antipathy to Tony Abbott is so strong that I'm going to make myself angry every time I read this - so I'd much rather not. Goodbye Tony - I'd far rather never read anything about you again.
Sep 13, 2012 rated it it was ok
The most frustrating thing about Marr's essay is that he does not reveal the things Tony Abbott said to him since it was all 'off record'. Whilst this essay does add some limited new information to the public record, it doesn't fundamentally change the public understanding of Tony Abbott.

One wonders if Tony Abbott said anything of interest at all when interviewed.

Competently written.
Aug 27, 2013 rated it liked it
Makes for a revealing read on the verge of the Australian Election. Most likely the political fate of the nation rests in his hands.
Just what this will mean for Australia and Tony Abbott himself remains to be seen. In the result of unprecedented power and support of the people, Political Abbott vs Values Abbott remains an internal battle to unfold.
Sep 29, 2012 rated it it was amazing

Brilliant! Such a great insight into Tony Abbott, his values and beliefs. I feel like I have a much better understanding of what makes him tick and why he does what he does. David Marr's writing is crystal clear, amusing, and compelling.
Jun 17, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Deeply disturbing; I find myself hoping that the 'bleak reassurance' David Marr describes in the final chapter might be right: 'Everybody says he's going to be absolutely terrible and the end of the world but he can't be that bad. He can't possibly be like that.'
Aug 24, 2015 rated it really liked it
This a longer version of David Marr's essay about Tony Abbott. I found this a well researched book which was interesting to read. It helped flesh out the man behind the headlines in what appeared to be a well balanced way.
Sep 15, 2012 rated it it was amazing
If the purpose of this piece is profiling Tony Abbott, then it is as good as any piece of extended journalism Australians can write. Once you read it, you would say I don't get the guy (to misquote an old slogan for fish sauce) — and I think that is the point: he doesn't get himself either.
Oct 17, 2012 rated it really liked it
Great insight into Abbott. On the whole, scary as hell, but also points out his strengths of which I thought there were none at all.
The first Quarterly I've read that I could consider suspenseful.
Jul 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing
In the lead up to the 2013 Federal Election, David Marr's essay on the ideology and politicking of Tony Abbott is a must read. Marr's short-and-sharp writing pulls no punches here.
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Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name. See this thread for more information.

Eminent Australian journalist, author, and progressive political and social commentator. David Marr is the multi-award-winning author of Patrick White: A Life, Panic and The High Price of Heaven, and co- author with Marian Wilkinson of Dark Victory. He has written for the Sy

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