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Nosing out the story, Lawrence Patchett

Breaking Ranks: Three Interrupted Lives
James McNeish
HarperCollins, $35.00,
ISBN 9781775540908

Partway through Breaking Ranks: Three Interrupted Lives, James McNeish stops his narrative to admit his own bias. “At this point,” he writes, “I had better come clean and declare my own interest.” His declaration relates to his account of Peter Mahon, the judge who led the inquiry into the 1979 Erebus disaster. Yet it applies to his approach to the other figures of Breaking Ranks, too: the psychiatrist John Saxby and the decorated soldier Reginald Miles.

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The headlock of myth, Mark Reason

Seelenbinder: The Olympian Who Defied Hitler James McNeish Steele Roberts, $35.00, ISBN 9780947493011 “After a certain time a life exists not for what it is in reality, but for its mythological qualities”: in that one sentence, James McNeish defines his

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Posted in Fiction, Literature and Review

Self-portrait with encounters, Martin Edmond

Touchstones: A Memoir James McNeish Vintage, $30.00, ISBN 9781869799328 The first book I was ever asked to review, way back in the early 1970s, was James McNeish’s Mackenzie – a work as idiosyncratic, obdurate and strange as the man it

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Brave or innocent, Bernard Carpinter

Slaughter Falls Alix Bosco Penguin Books, $39.00, ISBN 9780143203995   The Crime of Huey Dunstan James McNeish Vintage, $36.99, ISBN 9781869793159   The Fallen Ben Sanders HarperCollins, $29.99, ISBN 9781869508760   The field of crime writing is an expansive one,

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Posted in Fiction, Literature and Review

Myth and reality, David Colquhoun

Lovelock  James McNeish Vintage, $36.99, ISBN 9781869791230 Jack Lovelock. No other New Zealand sporting star has had so much written about him, in so many different ways. There have now been three biographical studies. His journals have been published, and

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Reds under the bed, Redmer Yska

The Sixth Man: The Extraordinary Life of Paddy Costello James McNeish  Vintage, $34.99, ISBN  9781869418915 James McNeish’s masterly life of Paddy Costello tells how, in the summer of 1953, this Paris-based New Zealand diplomat escorted National PM Sid Holland around

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Posted in Biography, History, Non-fiction, Politics & Law and Review

The gang of five, W H Oliver

Dance of the peacocks: New Zealanders in exile in the time of Hitler, Stalin and Mao Tse-tung James McNeish Vintage, $34.95, ISBN 1869415647 This is an engaging and readable book. James McNeish tells a multitude of stories about a number

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At last, some mayhem, Howard Warner

Mr Halliday and the Circus Master James McNeish David Ling, $19.95, ISBN 0 908990 38 3 The Opawa Affair Edmund Bohan Hazard Press, $19.95, ISBN 0 908790 61 9 Payday in Saudi Selwyn Carson Arrow, $17.95, ISBN 1 86941 285

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Posted in Fiction, Literature and Review

Ironies with wry detachment, Iain Sharp

My Name is Paradiso James McNeish David Ling, $24.95 ISBN 0908990278 On the back cover of his seventh novel, there’s a head-and-shoulders photograph of James McNeish taken by his wife, Helen. The author has been caught midway through the process

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Maritime and general short reviews, Gavin McLean

Waitemata Ferry Tales Sally Fodie, Collins, Auckland, 1991, $19.95 Sally Fodie was the first woman master of an Auckland harbour ferry. Waitemata Ferry Tales, her short collection of nautical anecdotes, shows that it was not easy to elbow her way into this

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Posted in Health, Maori, Memoir, Natural History, Non-fiction and Sociology
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