Don Watson

A Single Tree: Voices from the Bush

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'Don Watson’s new book, A Single Tree, is fascinating ... it brings alive the bush during a long span of Australian history. The writers chosen by Watson range from explorers and ecologists to poets, novelists, anthropologists and historians. All briefly ‘‘say something about what it means to live in this land and some say what it will mean when we learn how to live with it’’. In discovering and selecting them Watson was often moved, ‘‘even mysteriously so’’.' Geoffrey Blainey, The Australian, 26 November, 2016.

'To understand the destruction of a forest, says Don Watson, we need to know what it takes to fell a single tree. The big picture requires details. And  the casual details can sometimes be the most shocking: Emily Caroline Creaghe noting in 1883 that a visitor has arrived with "a new gin … a rope around the gin's neck". Shepherd George Everard provides a glimpse of colonial theatre, blowing his wages in the city: "The house laughing … during the most tragic scenes". Poet Oodgeroo Noonuccal​ creates a moving portrait of dispossession.'  The Age, 3 February, 2017.

'Watson’s panoptic approach allows him to draw in a fascinating spread of material – everything from bits of measured observation and eloquent insight, to items of innocent misapprehension or wilful ignorance ... Don Watson’s ‘fragmentary history’ stands as an excellent and thoughtfully arranged non-compendium, non-anthology that gets satisfyingly close.' Angelo Loukakis, Australian Book Review.

'Flicking through the pages of A Single Tree provides an absorbing read, giving an insight into the thoughts and humanity — or otherwise — of many ... The authors spring to life with a passion for the land or a remarkable insight into what drives us, or what we know so little about still.' Courier Mail, 8 January, 2016.

Article - Fragments of the Bush. Don Watson introduces A Single Tree: Voices from the Bush. Buy now.

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The Bush: Travels in the heart of Australia (2014) Penguin Books. Overall winner in the 2015 Indie Book Awards and Book of the Year in the 2015 NSW Premier's Literary Awards.

At once magisterial in scope and alive with telling, wry detail, The Bush lets us see our landscape and its inhabitants afresh, examining what we have made, what we have destroyed, and what we have become in the process.

'Don Watson's magnificent, celebratory, contradictory study of the Australian bush will challenge the national imagination . . . An amiable, learned, playful and engrossing book . . . [A] great, succulent magic pudding of a book . . . Most of what we read is nothing like we would have expected . . . There is a sense that an amiable and eloquent uncle is telling us everything piquant he knows about theology and culture and land use and the beasts and flora and families of the bush.' Thomas Keneally, Weekend Australian

''Flawlessly elegant writing . . . But this is excellent, hard-headed history, too . . . Utterly mesmerising and entrancing . . . A challenge to contemplate what it really is about this country that makes us who we think we are . . . A literary-historical odyssey.' Paul Daley, The Guardian (Australia).

'One of my favourite reads this year. What a writer he is . . . You find yourself sneaking off from others to be with it.Kathleen Noonan, Courier Mail

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Worst Words, Random House, 2015.

Don Watson - with his trademark wit and wisdom - says enough already! The English language is complex and evolving, and can win minds, hearts and nations. Why don't we try using it?

Read the introduction here

'While Worst Words will improve the writing of whoever reads it — every corporate tearoom should have one — they may also become more likely to snarl at the TV or read council circulars aloud to their significant others in a mocking voice.' Owen Richardson, Sydney Morning Herald.

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Bendable Learnings (2010) Random House Australia

New customer-focused edition with extra strategic alignment. More key challenges for readers going forward.

'He should have his own show.' Alan Jones, 2GB.

 'Watson offers witty, acerbic insights into an embarrassing use of language that bears no relation to real life.' Courier Mail

 'The book is worthwhile just for Watson's hilarious introduction.' The Adelaide Advertiser

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American Journeys (2009). Random House Australia. Winner of The Age Book the Year (and Non-Fiction) 2008, The Indie Non-Fiction award 2008, and Walkley Best Non-Fiction award 2008.

'The best book by an outsider about America since - forever.' David Sedaris

'This is not travelogue, it is dazzlingly eloquent and perceptive.' Tom Kenneally

'There are passages in the book so good they demand to be read aloud.' Glyn Davis, Australian Book Review.

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10th anniversary edition of Don Watson's award-winning biography of Paul Keating, Recollections of a Bleeding Heart  (2011). Winner of the National Biography Award 2003, The Courier Mail Book of the Year 2002, The Age Book of the Year 2002 (and Non-Fiction prize).

'... no insider has ever done it better.' Les Carylyon, Bulletin.

'... will be ranked with some of the great political biographies of the last 100 years.' Noel Turnbull, Courier-Mail.


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Caledonia Australis: Scottish Highlanders on the Frontier of Australia (2009) Random House Australia. Vintage Watson with a new introduction from Inga Clendinnen.

After their military defeat in 1745 the Scottish Highlanders suffered a worse humiliation. They were displaced from their ancestral lands and became curiosities: objects of romantic nostalgia, charity, scorn, anthropology - and emigration. This is a tale of their dispossession.It also tells the rout of another people, the Kurnai of Gippsland in south-eastern Australia.

‘This is a brilliant, original book.’ Neal Acherson, Times Literary Supplement.

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Watson's Dictionary of Weasel Words,Contemporary Cliches, Cant & Management Jargon (2005) Random House Australia

'... I reached for my trusty copy of Watson’s Dictionary of Weasel Words, Contemporary Clichés, Cant and Management Jargon, the Australian-authored manual of verbal sewage, published in Sydney 12 years ago and essential reading for all readers and listeners.' Robert Fisk in The Independent, 30 June, 2016.

Don Watson says enough is enough already! The English language is complex and evolving, and can win minds, hearts and nations. Why don't we try using it?

Depending where you are on the change continuum, a quick pulse check will be in order, an alignment of goals and values and a scan of forthcoming weather events before you can move forward with your strategy.

The level of customer-centric vigilance remains below acceptable benchmarks: managerial drivel and all kinds of weaselling continue to fill our mailboxes, inboxes, idiot boxes and our minds. Don Watson will make you cringe with recognition, and perhaps shame, and encourage you to rise up against the virus that has stolen truth and beauty from the language...

Read the introduction here.

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Death Sentence: The Decay of Public Language (2004). Random House Australia

A reflection on the state of public language.

(In UK: Gobbledygook, Atlantic, in the US: Death Sentences, Gotham)

‘Witty, excoriating and horrifying’ Robert Drewe, Age

‘The Book of the Year …witty erudite and funny. Awfully funny.Simon Hughes,Australian Financial Review

 ‘A marvellous polemic.’

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