For Cap and Country
The theme that links these interviews with Australian cricketers – even if the phrase ‘‘baggy green’’ is over-used – is the significance of the cap both to the game and the players. To Steve Waugh, who more than others turned it into a national symbol (his own tattered, bloodied one especially), it is the thing that links the present to the past, an image of an evolving tradition. Refreshingly, the selection of players is varied, from the greats to those who barely played a test – to women cricketers such as Ellyse Perry who don’t get the chance to play enough tests. Then there are the enigmas – Shaun Tait, who had the gift of devastating speed but was constantly injured and played only three tests. Michael Kasprowicz, one of the first to be officially presented with a baggy green, speaks eloquently about the strength of the symbol. An interesting selection of those for whom the cap fitted and who wore it.
The phrase ‘‘dark arts’’ comes to mind when reading Christopher Wylie’s account of his time with the now defunct Cambridge Analytica, the right-wing political counselling firm. But it’s not magic, it’s intelligence facilitated by technology. In an alarming report, Wylie takes us back to his Canadian upbringing as a disabled, gay kid attracted to the power of knowledge. He was inspired by the sophistication of Obama’s campaign in 2007, became an expert and eventually entered the murky world of Cambridge Analytica. After Brexit, Trump and observing Russian political influence in the west, he turned whistleblower. The activities of CA became a scandal – among other things, says Wylie, it was accessing the accounts of 87 million Facebook users, using the data to target potential voters and, he adds, ‘‘Facebook was just letting CA do it’’. Welcome to the dystopic present. Not dark arts, but scarily close.
Harvard University Press, $74
The romance of the cigarette was once as ubiquitous as the smoke that hung in bars, cafes and restaurants. Sarah Milov traces the emergence of the reality behind the romance and the rise of non-smoker activism in the face of massive tobacco industry opposition. The 20th century may have been the cigarette century but it also saw the Marlboro Man ride into the commercial sunset for the last time. Clearing public places of smoke and getting the facts of smoking publicly acknowledged so that legislation could follow was always going to be a dirty fight. It threw up unlikely alliances such as capitalists and unionists, with the industry playing on the doubts surrounding medical research – not unlike climate change deniers today. An in-depth study of the filter-tipped country of the past where we did things differently.