At the Lowy Lunch in August 2008, Don Watson, one of Australia's most distinguished writers and public speakers, explored themes in his latest book, 'American Journeys', a narrative of the modern USA.
He talked about the genius, optimism and freedom of the United States -- and its pervasive fears and failings- The Lowy Institute for International Policy
Don Watson is one of Australia's most distinguished writers and public speakers. He grew up on a farm in Gippsland, took his undergraduate degree at La Trobe University and a Ph.D at Monash and was for ten years an academic historian.
He wrote three books on Australian history before turning his hand to TV and the stage. For several years he combined writing political satire for the actor Max Gillies with political speeches for the former Victorian Premier John Cain. In 1992 he became Prime Minister Paul Keating's speech-writer and adviser and his best-selling account of those years, Recollections of a Bleeding Heart': Paul Keating Prime Minister, won both the The Age Book of the Year and Non-Fiction Prizes, the Brisbane Courier Mail Book of the Year, the National Biography Award and the Australian Literary Studies Association's Book of the Year.
In addition to regular books, articles and essays, in recent years he has also written feature films, including "The Man Who Sued God," starring Billy Connolly and Judy Davis.
His 2001 Quarterly Essay Rabbit Syndrome: Australia and America won the inaugural The Alfred Deakin Prize in the Victorian Premier's Literary Awards. Death Sentence, his book about the decay of public language, was also a best seller and won the Australian Booksellers Association Book of the Year. It was published in the UK and the US. Watson's Dictionary of Weasel Words was published in 2004 and continued to encourage readers to renounce what he perceives to be meaningless corporate and government jargon that is spreading throughout Australia and embrace meaningful, precise language. More recently Don contributed the preface to a selection of Mark Twain's writings, The Wayward Tourist.
His latest book, American Journeys, is a narrative of modern America from Watson's travels in the United States post-Hurricane Katrina. Traveling the railways and highways, he writes about religion, race, class, places, politics and people; the noble dreams and confounding paradoxes of the world's greatest democracy and superpower. It was published by Knopf in 2008 and again won both the The Age Book of the Year Non-fiction and Book of the Year Awards.