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The Enigmatic Mr Deakin

This insightful and accessible new biography of Alfred Deakin, Australia’s second prime minister, shines fresh light on one of the nation’s most significant figures. It brings out from behind the image of a worthy, bearded father of federation the gifted, passionate and intriguing man whose contributions continue to shape the contours of Australian politics.

The acclaimed political scientist Judith Brett scrutinises both Deakin’s public life and his inner life. Deakin’s private papers reveal a solitary, religious character who found distasteful much of the business of politics, with its unabashed self-interest, double-dealing, and mediocre intellectual levels. And yet politics is where Deakin chose to do his life’s work.

Destined to become a classic of biography, The Enigmatic Mr Deakin is a masterly portrait of a complex man who was instrumental in creating modern Australia.


Sydney Morning Herald
Read Judith Brett on Turnbull and Deakin in the Conversation
Radio National Late Night Live
ABC The Conversation Hour (6:20:00)
Saturday Paper

Judith Brett
About the Author

Judith Brett is the award-winning author of Robert Menzies’ Forgotten People, emeritus professor of politics at La Trobe University and one of Australia’s leading political thinkers. She contributes regularly to the Monthly and has written three Quarterly Essays.

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Text publication date:
14 August 2017
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Praise for Judith Brett
andThe Enigmatic Mr Deakin

‘A biography of immense power that will restore Deakin to his proper place in the national imagination: the mystic politician who gave us Australia.’

‘Judith Brett has resurrected a gallant democrat just when democracy seems most in need of redemption. This is a deeply engrossing portrait of a hero for our times, a complex, charismatic man with a unique capacity to build, to lead, to speak and to dream. Masterful, tender and utterly compelling.’

‘A fresh, revealing and insightful portrait of one of the great figures who shaped Australia.’

‘This excellent biography will appeal to general readers, students and anyone interested in historical biography.’ 

Other editions ofThe Enigmatic Mr Deakin
  • The Enigmatic Mr Deakin
    ISBN: 9781925410884
    14 August 2017
    Buy ebook