Owen Hatherley. The Ministry of Nostalgia. London and New York: Verso, 2017. Hatherley's misapprehension about the origins of Keep Calm and Carry On got me an article in The Conversation, so I figure I owe him a book sale. But I also suspect that he's on to something with his (much) larger argument about the memory of the Blitz (etc) as a form of austerity nostalgia.

Mathew Radcliffe. Kampong Australia: The RAAF at Butterworth. Sydney: NewSouth, 2017. Butterworth was a name I was familiar with growing up, but knew next to little about. For most of the Cold War, it was the RAAF's only permanent air base outside Australia, located in what is now northern Malaysia. The strategic purpose was to defend against communist and Indonesian threats, and RAAF Sabres, Mirages and other aircraft were stationed there from the 1950s through to the 1980s. But this book (based on a PhD) isn't really about that: it's much more a social history, about life in this far-off western enclave of military personnel and their families inside a foreign society at the end of an old empire and the start of a new nation. And I think it will be all the more interesting for it!

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2 thoughts on “Acquisitions

  1. The Radcliffe sounds very interesting - do let us know what you think! I will confess to not having read the Hatherley, only his newspaper articles based on bits of it, but based on his arguments there it seems to me that much of what he decries as austerity nostalgia is rooted not in some desire for a time when people knew their betters but for a time when statist solutions to social justice and equality were actually effective. I'm perfectly willing to be told I've completely misunderstood the book's arguments, though. The

  2. Post author

    Don't worry, I've read about the same amount of Hatherley! My feeling is that's actually part of what he's saying, but also that it's a desire for a time when there were collectivist goals to unify behind. But I think he's also taking aim at the commercialisation of nostalgia, particularly when it's actually opposing or destroying the values it supposedly celebrates. (Surprisingly in this era of Brexit he doesn't seem to have much to say about Europe, at least not directly.) It's not a long read, so maybe I should get around to it sooner rather than later... but then that's true of a lot of books!

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