Saturday, October 11, 2014

Optimism: Reflections on a Life of Action, by Bob Brown

Staff Review by Chris Saliba

Bob Brown's Optimism is both autobiographical and inspirational.

Bob Brown opens his new book with a great quote from Bertrand Russell, the  British philosopher: “The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt.”

Brown says we need to get over our timidity and start challenging the bullies in power. Optimism isn’t really a call to action as such. It’s more, as the subtitle says, a series of reflections. Brown mixes introspection with activism to produce something quite original. Most political memoirs are an exercise in defending reputations or squealing on colleagues. They can be self-serving or sensationalist. Brown’s is a gentle and poetic voice. He aims to inspire and share his appreciation of the world’s beauty. Not just the natural world, but its people too.

The book is presented in a series of vignettes covering Brown’s life, starting as a doctor in Tasmania and ending as a federal parliamentarian. There is much that is also very personal between Optimism’s covers, such as Bob’s struggle with his homosexuality.

This is indeed an inspiring memoir. Bob Brown writes beautifully and simply. It’s a book to be enjoyed slowly; it offers wisdom and an alternative path.

Optimism: Reflections on a Life of Action, by Bob Brown. Published by Hardie Grant. ISBN:  9781742707662 RRP: $39.95

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