From the ashes of the darkest event in human history, Australian Jews built a thriving community, one with proportionally more Holocaust survivors than anywhere else in the world bar Israel. Mark Leibler grew up in this community, and in time became a leader of it. This book shows how Leibler rose to a position of immense influence in Australian public life by skilfully entwining his roles as a Zionist leader and a tax lawyer to some of the country’s richest people.
The book vividly paints a cast of Australian characters – among them Paul Keating, John Howard, Julia Gillard and Noel Pearson – who came to know Leibler and to call him a friend, along with people like Kevin Rudd and Bob Carr, who see Leibler as no friend at all. Finally, the book charts the surprise turn in Leibler’s life, when a social and political conservative became a committed advocate for radical reform on behalf of Australia’s Indigenous people.
This many-layered book is a portrait of Jewish life in Australia, of the interaction between private wealth and politics, and of a man whose energy, formidable work habits and forcefulness that often tips into pugnacity have made him a highly effective player in Australian affairs.
‘He taught me about power – how to get it and how to use it,’ says Noel Pearson. Through one man’s story, this book shows how power works in Australia.
Michael Gawenda is one of Australia’s best-known journalists and authors. In a journalism career spanning four decades, Michael has been a political reporter, a foreign correspondent based in London and in Washington, a columnist, a feature writer, a senior editor at Time Magazine and the Editor and Editor in Chief of The Age in Melbourne from 1997 to 2004.
He has won numerous journalism awards including three Walkley awards, the Australian equivalent of the American Pulitzer prizes. Michael Gawenda was the inaugural Director of the University of Melbourne’s Centre for Advancing Journalism and is now an honorary research fellow at the Centre.
He is the author of three books: American Notebook, A Personal and Political Journey, Rocky and Gawenda: The Story of a Man and his Mutt and Leo Meo: Songs To My Grandson.