Australian Biographical Monographs 19
Paperback, 110 pages, $19.95
May 2023 Release
Sir Joseph Cook was Australia’s sixth Prime Minister and a truly remarkable man. His greatest political achievement was becoming the first leader of the Australian centre-right to win a federal parliamentary majority in their own right, directly shaping the enduring and unique understanding of what liberalism means in this country. This political story is inherently intertwined with an astounding personal one, as Cook lifted himself up by the bootstraps from an adolescence spent providing for his family in an English coalmine to become a knight and statesman.
Cook’s life demonstrates that Australia was and is a land of tremendous opportunity and social mobility - and that is precisely why he argued passionately for the necessity of individual freedom and personal responsibility as the true driving force behind national progress. These values were informed by a profound belief in Christian tenets, and the agency, autonomy and duty of each human being. Initially entering NSW Parliament as a foundational member of the Labor Party before leaving on a principled opposition to the caucus pledge, Cook’s career charts the how and the why of the emergence of the Australian party system and the philosophical lines of cleavage which continue to shape our nation.
Dr Zachary Gorman is the Academic Coordinator for the Robert Menzies Institute at the University of Melbourne. A professional historian who has specialised in the history of Australian liberalism, he has a PhD from the University of Wollongong where he worked for several years. He has authored two other books, Sir Joseph Carruthers: Founder of the New South Wales Liberal Party, and Summoning Magna Carta: Freedom’s Symbol Over a Millennium. He also edited Captain James Cook, R.N.: 150 Years After, and The Young Menzies: Success, Failure, Resilience 1894–1942.