Return of a King: The Battle for Afghanistan

Posted on Feb 03 in History, What We're Reading by

In 1839 the British invaded Afghanistan for the first time in an attempt to return a leader of their liking, Shah Shuja, to the throne. With almost 20,000 troops, they established control of the country, attempting to sure up the interests of the East India Company. Within two years, the first British occupation foundered and Britain suffered it’s greatest humiliation of the nineteenth century. The British were forced to withdraw at the beginning of an Afghani winter in October 1841. Of the approx 16,500 that left Kabul for India, only one man would make it down through the pass (see famous painting above).

The 16,500 retreating party included 4,500 military personnel and 12,000 camp followers - sepoys, servants, wives, children - many died as a result of the unceasing military ambushes by Afghan tribal groups seeking retribution and plunder. The rest of the party starved or froze. ‘Lord Auckland’s folly’, the name by which this disastrous campaign is often referred, not only cost lives and reputations, but almost bankrupted the East India Company, weakening Britain’s position in the Great Game. more…

Soundsystem – The Art of Jamaican Music

Posted on Jan 23 in Featured, Music by

For over 50 years now Jamaican music has been incredibly important in contemporary music, from the invention of Ska, Rocksteady, Roots, Dub and onto Dancehall. This tiny island has produced one of the richest and most innovative veins in popular music, it has influenced rap and then hip-hop, MCing … Not to mention its injection of cool and gansta into contemporary urban culture.

Soul Jazz Recordings have been all over the music, and now their publishing off-shoot has produced two great books in the history of Jamaican music: Soundsystem: Mento to Dancehall – 60 Years of of Original Reggae Album Cover Art, and Soundsystem 45: Original Label Art of the Reggae 45 Single. See also other great books produced by Soul Jazz such as Cover Art of Studio One Records and Voguing and the Ballroom Scene of New York 1989-92.

Beautiful Ugly: John Gollings

Posted on Jan 05 in Architecture, Photography by

Beautiful Ugly: The Architectural Photography of John Gollings. I hadn’t heard of Gollings until I read this book.  Beautiful Ugly collects a lifetime of architectural photography in Australia and around the world. While overtly an architecture book, this really is a photography book by a photographer of great skill and understanding of his architectural subjects. In the text by Joe Rollo suggests that Gollings’ skill - understanding how to present a building - is usually better than than the architect of the building. & indeed some of the photos seem almost philosophical.

How Music Works by David Byrne

Posted on Jan 01 in Biography, Music, What We're Reading by

Not wanting to do the age-ing rocker autobiography, David Byrne has produced a book that is a larger overview of the history of contemporary music. That said, Byrne does allow a potted history of his own career (a word you get the feeling he’d hate), and of Talking Heads. But perhaps the most interesting aspect of the book is its attempt to explicate the nuts n bolts of making music, and making money from the music industry. Byrne’s account in enjoyably intelligent and passionate. As his been his way musically, he is intellectual without being wanky, punky without the spit and snot. At the end of the book, Byrne sets out a practical range of models that a new band might adopt in an effort to make a living from making music in this new era. How Music Works is a great read for all who love music (and art generally) and are disheartened by the unending cycle of appropriation of art and artists by corporates who apply their MBAs to art and wonder why they wreck it.

To the Highlands by Jon Doust

Posted on Dec 29 in Fiction, What We're Reading by

To the Highlands, by local author  Jon Doust, is an engaging and honest tale of a young Perth man’s coming of age in the strange and foreign setting of PNG. Five years after Doust’s Boy on a Wire, Highlands again features Jack Muir, a young and listless boy from the WA country. Now at the end of the swinging sixties, when the world is full of change and revolution, Jack is sent to the islands as a bank Johnny. This new novel follows Jack’s journey of self-discovery from rising bank star, to trouble maker and finally to the highlands, where Jack questions who he is as a person and the invisible laws that come between love and people of different colour. Doust is a master of imagery and is particularly adept and displaying Jack’s disorientation. more…

Italian Rapier Combat

Posted on Dec 08 in Sport, Uncategorized by

Ridolfo Capo Ferro was a legend of Italian fencing (apparently). Italian Rapier Combat is a reprinting of his 1610 treatise on swordsmanship, including 43 cool plates demonstrating the panache of this most lethal of weapons, the rapier.


Posted on Nov 20 in Art, Featured, Graphic Novels by

New publication from IDW, Monocyte has only been available digitally before. Now in a collectible edition with 60 pages new material. Includes local illustrator Ben Templesmith, as well as illustrators Ashley Wood, Bill Sienkiewicz, George Pratt, Phil Hale, Barron Storey,  Riley Rossmo, Christopher Mitten, David Stoupakis, and Chris Newman.

Judith Lucy in conversation

Posted on Oct 20 in Biography, In-Store Events by

Judith Lucy will be at Crow Books in a couple of weeks to talk about her new book, Drink Smoke and Pass Out. In this second book of memoir, Judith sets off to explore various spiritual paths in an attempt to make sense of the big questions. With her typical wit and dry humour, Judith investigates what happens when alcohol & vice fail to create a fulfilling life.

Due to demand and space restrictions, this event (free) will be strictly RSVP only. See further details below:

Where: Crow Books, 900 Albany Hwy, East Vic Park

When: Tuesday, 6th November, 6.30pm


Whisky Charlie Foxtrot by Annabel Smith

Posted on Oct 15 in Fiction, In-Store Events, What We're Reading by

Annabel Smith will launch her new book Whisky Charlie Foxtrot at Crow Books. A great tale of the lives of identical twin brothers, Charlie and Whiskie. Rent from the novel’s opening by a tragedy that creates a dramatic tension that rips you through the story.

Launch will be Tuesday 30th October. All welcome. Wine & nibbles provided. All welcome.


Reading Moondyne Joe

Posted on Sep 22 in History, In-Store Events, Poetry by

John Kinsella and Niall Lucy will be at Crow Books on Monday 1st of October to read from the book and to talk about the legacy of Moondyne Joe.

Moondyne Joe is a much-mythologised character of early West Australian colonial history. A serial escapee, Joe was a cult figure of the convict era but little concrete is known about him. In The Ballad of Moondyne Joe, acclaimed West Australian poet John Kinsella and writer/academic, Niall Lucy, attempt to fill in the gaps with poetry and essays that, in tone, reflect Joe’s anti-establishment reputation.

This will be Kinsella’s first reading in some years, and comes after being recently twice-shortlisted for the 2012 Victorian Premier’s Prize for Armour (poetry), and In the Shade of a Shady Tree (fiction).

Niall Lucy has published widely, particularly in theory, but more recently Vagabond Holes, a tribute to Dave McComb and The Triffids, and the collation of McComb’s poetry, Beautiful Waste. more…