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A Life in Words

Collected writings from Gallipoli to the Melbourne Cup

The forward to A life in words is by Les Carlyon’s son, Patrick offers a very personal look into the life a man who became a legend in his time; a man known for his craftsmanship with words, and a definite flair for storytelling. It is a perfect way to commence visiting and revisiting some of the many stories he wrote over many years of reporting on just about everything of importance that made up the very diverse times of his long life.

Carlyon’s career in the media was nothing less than stellar, winning two Walkley Award’s for his work before going on to be awarded the coveted Graham Perkin Journalist of the Year Ward. Over the many years of his career, he reported on everything from politics to horseracing, managing to be able to drill down to the very core of the matter under discussion with a care for accuracy, always mindful of being able to deliver a ‘good ’story, a story that the readers would accept as the truth and as credible news.

A prolific writer the works gathered within the covers of A life in words capture the very essence of the man, his passion for news and this love of creating not just a news story, but a story that was redolent with the emotion of moment, captured on the page of news print for eternity. He was once asked if he ever wrote a bad story. His answer was no!

Separated into nine sections, his many years of reporting on the news of the day offers a retrospective look the stories that have formed the history of modern Australia and in many instances, the world.

He reflects on the almost magical, tragic life of Diana Princess of Wales in Goodnight, Princess, a small piece in which he ponders the legacy left, the tragedy that was her, as if he is trying to understand how her legacy has had the power to remain alive so many years on.

Looking back, he writes of the history that is the second world war in Hirohito; each-way punter offering a very different take on Hirohito and his very deliberate double standards.

A delightful section is Satire which is immensely enjoyable and shows a playful and yet very clear understanding of people in Illness thoughts, reflecting on a time when he was laid up in bed recovering from an illness; a time when one is drawn to reflecting on the nature of the cosmos and many other such weighty matters.

Maggie Thatcher, Paul Keating, Bob Hawke, John Howard and many others rub shoulders in Politics, a section which allows a very interesting perspective of Australian and world politics, now retrospective, to be delivered. That this section is retrospective will no doubt to younger readers be food for thought, research and discussion, but for older readers it may help explain what once was considered unexplainable by the masses.

Not a book to be devoured in a day, or even a week, the work of Les Carlyon deserves to be savored, enjoyed and treasured. Perhaps, in the modern world of ‘fast turnaround news gathering’, his work should be used as a yardstick for reporting on a story and always ensuring a good story is presented.

Author Les Carlyon
Publisher Allen & Unwin
ISBN 9781760879723
Distributor Allen & Unwin
Released August 2021