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In the service of one’s country, Mary Varnham

Le Quesnoy 1918: New Zealand’s Last Battle
Christopher Pugsley
Oratia, $45.00,
ISBN 9780947506490

My father served on the Western Front, having signed up at the age of 17 or thereabouts. He came from a lonely farm in the Akatarawa Valley, so joining a bunch of other young men and sailing to the other side of the world must have seemed alluring and exciting. The use of the word “serve” is interesting, though. I’m sure he had no intention to serve anyone or anything other than himself. It was a great escape. Few of the estimated 74,000 New Zealanders who, like my father, found themselves stumbling through oozing mud, running across open ground under fire, or clambering for miles through torturous forest undergrowth, would have seen this as something they had wanted or expected to do.

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Posted in Non-fiction, Review, War

Moments of brilliance — Mary Varnham

Mary Varnham surveys the reviewing industry from behind the publisher’s desk. Save me, please. A publisher writing an article about book reviewing and reviewers is akin to a chef writing about restaurant critics: may as well stick your head in

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Between rocks and hard places, David Hill

The Real McKay Graham Bishop Otago University Press, $45.00,  ISBN 9781877372223 The Amazing World of James Hector  Simon Nathan and Mary Varnham (eds) Awa Press, $25.00, ISBN 9780958275071 The first time I went on a Geological Society field trip, we

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Posted in Biography, History, Non-fiction, Review

Values, principles and faith, Mary Varnham

The House of Reed 1907-1983: Great Days in New Zealand Publishing Edmund Bohan Canterbury University Press, $39.95, ISBN 187725732X Books and Boots: The Story of New Zealand Publisher, Writer and Long Distance Walker Alfred Hamish Reed Ian Dougherty Otago University

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Posted in History, Literature, Non-fiction, Review

The triumph of reinvention, Mary Varnham

Wellington – The First Years of European Settlement 1840-1850 Gavin McLean Penguin Books, $29.95, ISBN 0140288635 Wellington’s Heritage – plants, gardens, and landscape Winsome Shepherd Te Papa Press, $49.95, ISBN 0909010730 Kirkcaldie & Stains – A Wellington Story Julia Millen

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Posted in History, Memoir, Natural History, Non-fiction, Review, Sociology

Comment, Mary Varnham

Restrained discourse in a windowless room: Writers and Readers Week 1998 The literary stars have come out. The firmament crackles with dramatic disclosure. Questioners leap to their feet, arguing electrifyingly for wild and esoteric points of view. There are young

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