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Separating faction from fiction in history

Talking about the past – from The Great World Wars that shaped our place as a nation to America’s Civil War – may seem boring to some. That is unless you have engaging speakers like Bob Carr and Steven Daisley at the microphones. And the audience gathered at the Byron Bay Writers’ Festival weren’t disappointed.

Bob Carr,  the longest serving premier of New South Wales, spoke passionately about his latest work, My Reading Life, in which he discusses what he enjoys reading, and his passion behind this love of words. A bedside book on what we should read during our lives.

Steven Daisley, former soldier and first time novelist from New Zealand, talked about his debut novel, Traitor, in which he discusses the conflict of an Australian soldier in World War One who befriends a Turkish medic on the battlefields.

Chair Russell Eldridge stated, in reference to the session title – The fiction and faction of history – that he had no idea what ‘faction’ meant, but steered the discussion towards the themes in the books, and to Carr’s and Daisley’s thoughts on history. Carr gave the push for everyone to read James Joyce’s Ulysses, repeatedly.

“Like I told the high school students [visiting Southern Cross University] on Thursday on Shakespeare, I will tell you now on Ulysses. Consider it an order from your Premier, and read this book.”

The young and the not-so-young audience hung on every word as the three-man panel entertained and informed our thirsty minds. Bob Carr told stories about the Civil War in America, the discovery of a lost ancestor and about the heroism shown by troops after the Fall of Singapore in World War Two, provoking many thoughts and laughs among the crowd. Discussions included the true meaning of the ANZAC spirit, and why it became our first monumental achievement as a nation.

Listening to both a politician and a Kiwi discussing the ANZAC legacy, it reminds us how united we are. But, we’re still going to beat them in Rugby.

Amelia Turner, Southern Cross University Media Student

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