MIS­CEL­LANY

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Books - TONY MANIATY

ENGLISH artist John Con­sta­ble thought it ‘‘ al­most as bad’’ as an­cient Mex­i­can paint­ing, but the Bayeux Ta­pes­try — de­pict­ing the Bat­tle of Hast­ings in 1066 — has sur­vived crit­i­cism, world wars, bad stor­age and be­ing copied for movie ti­tle se­quences ( The Vik­ings, Bed­knobs and Broom­sticks and Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves). Carola Hicks’s lively study shows a trea­sure that has been em­ployed over­time for its sym­bol­ism: Napoleon be­lieved it re­flected his vic­to­ries, while the Nazis saw in the ta­pes­try their ul­ti­mate ob­jec­tive, an in­va­sion of Eng­land. AT 19, hav­ing caused the death of an­other mo­torist, Adam Sut­ton was sen­tenced to prison, a con­fine­ment that re­flected his se­cre­tive­ness about be­ing gay. Out of jail, he not only found his pas­sion — work­ing with horses — but also sum­moned the courage to come out: Mum, I’m me. I’m happy now.’’ The celebrity over­tones in Sut­ton’s story, through his work on and friend­ships with Heath Ledger and other Hol­ly­wood stars, are coun­tered by hard- won in­sights into a life of be­ing coun­try gay’’. When the Press Fails: Po­lit­i­cal Power and the News Me­dia from Iraq to Ka­t­rina By W. Lance Ben­nett, Regina G. Lawrence and Steven Liv­ingston Univer­sity of Chicago Press, 263pp, $ 39.95

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STUN­NINGLY ho­moge­nous out­comes’’ across the main­stream out­lets, a dras­tic re­duc­tion in the pub­lic watch­dog role of jour­nal­ism, lock- step cov­er­age of the Bush White House agenda; since 9/ 11, the US me­dia has fallen into cri­sis, ar­gue the au­thors of this cri­tique. Why is the me­dia not work­ing as it should? Blame the

strange mu­tual de­pen­den­cies’’ be­tween re­porters and of­fi­cials at the core of the

Wash­ing­ton power game’’, which chal­lenges the Amer­i­can prom­ise of free­dom, democ­racy and ci­vil­ity’’.

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just

Ned Kelly

‘‘ Fox­bats Over Di­mona: The Sovi­ets’ Nu­clear Gam­ble in the Six- Day War By Isabella Ginor and Gideon Re­mez Yale Univer­sity Press, 287pp, $ 52 WAS the 1967 Six- Day War a re­gional clash be­tween Is­rael and its Arab neigh­bours or a strate­gic play in the Cold War? Isabella Ginor and Gideon Re­mez, dig­ging through ex- Soviet files for this 40th an­niver­sary tome, make a star­tling claim: the con­flict was en­gi­neered by Moscow to pro­voke Is­rael into a pre- emp­tive strike that would jus­tify use of Rus­sian bombers to de­stroy Is­rael’s nu­clear re­ac­tor at Di­mona. Far­fetched? The ev­i­dence seems strong. The con­se­quences for the Mid­dle East and the world may well have been nu­clear war. The Bayeux Ta­pes­try: The Life Story of a Mas­ter­piece By Carola Hicks Vin­tage, 358pp, $ 27.95 Say It Out Loud: Jour­ney of a Real Cow­boy By Adam Sut­ton and Neil McMa­hon, Ran­dom House, 285pp, $ 34.95

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still

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