cover image A Secret Country: The Hidden Australia

A Secret Country: The Hidden Australia

John Pilger. Knopf Publishing Group, $23 (305pp) ISBN 978-0-394-57462-2

An Australian-born journalist and documentary filmmaker now living in London, Pilger provides a bracing rebuttal of the conventional view of his native land as an egalitarian nation with homes and jobs for all. Praising the innovative social reforms that made turn-of-the century Australia famous as a ``Workers' Paradise,'' Pilger contends that these benefits have been abrogated in the '80s as a result of the Conservative Labor Party government's tax giveaways to the ``Order of Mates'' (including media mogul Rupert Murdoch and beer baron Alan Bond), which has resulted in an economic crisis. In addition, the author argues, white Australians have never acknowledged that their country was founded on the genocide of the aborigines, still discriminated against today, and has been run ever since as a colonial tool, first of Great Britain and now of the United States--the CIA, the author suggests in convincing detail, connived in the 1975 overthrow of a Labor government unpopular with the U.S. Pilger's strong tone may alienate those who don't already agree with him, but he backs up his contentions with careful documentation. Overall, though, his thoughtful book will appeal to those seeking a more realistic understanding of the land Down Under. Photos not seen by PW. (Jan.)