About the book

John Murphy’s Evatt: A Life is a biography of Australian parliamentarian and jurist HV Evatt. Remembered as the first foreign minister to argue for an independent Australian policy in the 1940s and for his central role in the formation of the UN, Evatt became leader of the Labor party in the 1950s, the time of the split that resulted in the party being out of power for a generation. Murphy places Evatt in the context of a long period of conservatism in Australia, treating his personal life as just as important as his controversial and eventual tragic public career.

Book cover of Evatt: A life by John Murphy
Published by: 
NewSouth Publishing

About the author

Professor John

John Murphy is a professor of politics at the University of Melbourne. He is also Assistant Dean in the Faculty of Arts. He writes prolifically on Australian social and political history and is editor of the Australian politics and policy series in Melbourne University Publishing's Academic Monograph series. He is author of many books, including Harvest of Fear: A history of Australia's Vietnam War (Allen & Unwin, 1993); Imagining the fifties: Private sentiment and political culture in Menzies’ Australia (UNSW Press, 2000) and was a contributor to Half a Citizen: Life on Welfare in Australia (Allen & Unwin, 2011).

Image of author John Murphy

Judges’ comments

This is an excellent book, by an established and respected scholar. With polish and complete control of the material John Murphy has written a book that captures the extraordinary public and private life of Evatt.  

Murphy’s portrait of Federal Labor leader Herbert Vere “Doc” Evatt is revealing and definitive. Murphy’s careful research has shown Evatt to be a combination of brilliance and dedication though occasionally foolish; given to grandiosity. Across a career that led him from jurist to the youngest High Court judge onto a NSW State and later Federal politician; and perhaps most importantly as Australia’s foreign minister involved in the establishment of the United Nations.

This book revises the orthodoxy of Evatt and provides valuable insights into Australia’s political and social history. The work is mature and objective, yet it is a very accessible book at the same time. Undoubtedly this will be the “go to” book on Evatt in future years.